Judge recesses hearing, keeping Knight in jail

Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

With yet more witnesses to come, Marion "Suge" Knight's probation hearing broke Friday in the midst of testimony, meaning the founder of Death Row Records must stay in County Jail at least another 10 days.

Amid testimony from an expert for the defense that Knight was not an aggressor during a fight Sept. 7 at a Las Vegas hotel, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge J. Stephen Czuleger called a recess late Friday afternoon.

The judge set the next hearing in the case for Nov. 25, saying it was the first date he was available.

The delay probably means more production problems for Death Row, the nation's top rap label, as it gears up for the lucrative holiday buying season. And it deeply frustrated Knight's family and friends.

"I want him home for Thanksgiving," Knight's mother, Maxine, said as court ended Friday. Referring to Czuleger, she added, "Just like he wants to be home with his family."

Knight has been in jail since Oct. 22 for four possible probation violations, the most serious allegation being that he was involved in the Sept. 7 fight at the MGM Grand Hotel.

Under the terms of a 1995 plea bargain, Knight entered no-contest pleas to a 1992 assault on two aspiring rappers in a Hollywood studio. He received a suspended nine-year prison term and five years probation.

Prosecutors are now seeking to have the probation revoked and the nine-year term imposed.

A hotel surveillance video shows Knight, rapper Tupac Shakur and others surrounding reputed gangster Orlando Anderson, 22, of Lakewood, who is being pummeled. The key issue in the probation hearing is whether Knight is among those assaulting Anderson.

Testifying Friday for the defense, Kent Moyer, a martial arts expert, asserted that a frame-by-frame breakdown of the first three seconds of the video shows Knight with his hands in a defensive posture, not up and ready for action.

Moyer, who said he has choreographed fight scenes for films and is "good friends" with action movie star Steven Seagal, added of Knight: "He's trying to stop the activity from [going] any further."

Moyer, who said he had watched the 10-second video at least 100 times, is due back on the stand when the hearing resumes Nov. 25.

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