Marion "Suge" Knight collapsed in court Friday after a hearing during which a judge set bail at $25 million for the rap mogul, who is accused of murder in a fatal hit-and-run at a Southern California burger stand.
During the hearing, Knight sat at the defense table and did not appear in distress. Afterwards, Knight was moved to a holding cell, where his attorney went to speak with him and expressed concern that he was sweating profusely and that his eyelid appeared to flutter.
"He was dripping sweat, like someone poured a bucket of water on him," attorney Matt Fletcher said. "He wiped the sweat off his head and said, 'I haven't had my medication.'"
A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department told NBC4 Knight was offered his medication Friday morning.
Fletcher returned with Knight, 49, to the courtroom to seek a judge's order for medical care. Moments later, Knight collapsed and the judge closed the courtroom. Video from the courtroom showed Knight doubled over in a chair with his head partially under a desk as deputies and his attorney rushed to his aid.
Afterwards, prosecutor Cynthia Barnes was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as saying she believed Knight "did it in front of the cameras." The District Attorney's office declined to elaborate.
Paramedics arrived at the courthouse and his attorney said he remained unconscious for about 10 minutes, but details regarding Knight's condition were not immediately available. He was transported to the jail ward at Los Angeles County USC Medical Center.
The hearing had been delayed after Knight missed an inmate transport bus from jail to the courthouse. After Knight surrended to authorities in January and was booked, the bail level was set at $2.2 million. Before Knight could post it, and before his first court appearance, the District Attorney's office went to a bail magistrate and got it switched to a no bail hold. Friday morning's hearing was requested by the Knight defense.
When it became Fletcher's turn to address the court, he argued that the $25 million level bail level proposed by the prosecution is excessive and unwarranted. Deputy DA Barnes submitted a written memorandum that citied 30 "incidents" alleging illegal activity by Knight, though only a few of them were ever charged or prosecuted. "I was appalled at all these crimes," Barnes told Judge Ronald Coen, who found the $25 million figure "reasonable" in Knight's case, citing Knight's criminal history and a failure to appear in a previous case.
"Shocked, I've never seen a $25 million bail," attorney Fletcher said.
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The Death Row Records co-founder is accused of running down two men in Compton, killing one of them, on Jan. 29. He has pleaded not guilty in what his attorneys have characterized as a case of self-defense, contending a group of men ambushed and attacked Knight.
Security camera video does appear to show three men approaching the driver's side window of Knight's pickup truck after he pulled into the driveway to the parking lot of a Tam's Restaurant in Compton. The three included Terry Carter, 55, who died, and Cle "Bone" Sloan, 51, who was also struck but survived and potentially could be called as a witness. When interviewed by investigators, Sloan acknowledged punching Knight, Fletcher said.
Judge Coen scheduled a preliminary hearing April 13 to determine if there is sufficient evidence for trial.
To be released while the case is pending, Knight would either have to post the entire amount in cash or pay a bond company 8 percent of the bail amount and the company would put up the whole amount, Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Lou Shapiro said. The bond company would keep the 8 percent -- $2 million if bail is set at $25 million -- as its fee, Shapiro said.
But that is unlikely to happen. "I don't know anyone who can afford $25 million bail," Fletcher said.
Barnes' bail motion includes a summary of a heavily redacted police report taken last year from someone who contended Knight issued threats over the film "Straight Outta Compton."
"Knight was angry that he was not compensated for his likeness in the movie," the motion said.It quoted a text message Knight allegedly sent an unnamed victim:: "I will see u in person...u have kids just like me so let's play hardball...'
It added that Knight warned the unidentified victim that he was prepared to attack over the film and would target former N.W.A. members Dr. Dre and Ice Cube.
The prosecutor's motion also cites Knight's 1994 conviction on a federal firearms charge and a 1995 conviction on two counts of assault with a firearm that led to a lengthy prison sentence.
"Since his release from prison custody, defendant Knight has continued his repugnant life of crime," the motion states before listing allegations that include battery, criminal threats, extortion and assault. Sheriff's Sgt. Richard Biddle said detectives began looking into the extortion scheme after Knight was shot six times last year at a West Hollywood nightclub on the weekend of the MTV Video Music Awards.
Friday's courtroom collapse was one of several health-related issues reported by Knight during legal proceedings in the hit-and-run case. Earlier this month Knight told a judge he was suffering from blindness moments before he was taken to a hospital. He said he was blind in one eye and had only about 15 percent vision in his other eye during a brief court appearance. The defendant also stated he had been shot six times last year, had a blood clot in his lungs and other complications, and that he had 35 pounds as a result of his injuries.
Knight also told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Brandlin he had fired attorneys handling his murder case, and complained he was receiving inadequate medical treatment while in custody
He also claimed he was having difficulty comprehending the proceedings and told the judge Brandlin transferred Knight's case to another judge, but he was taken for medical care before his case could be called.