Suge Knight’s fiancée takes plea deal for violating court order by selling video to TMZ
The fiancee of former rap impresario Marion “Suge” Knight took a plea deal Thursday for her role in orchestrating the sale of sealed video evidence from Knight’s murder case.
Toi-Lin Kelly, 36, pleaded no contest to violating a court order for helping to arrange the sale of the video to the celebrity news website TMZ. She was placed on probation for five years, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
Kelly’s attorney, Dmitry Gorin, said his client was also ordered not to have any contact with Knight or members of his legal team.
Kelly’s case stemmed from her fiance’s legal saga.
Knight, 52, is accused of barreling his red truck into two men in the parking lot of a Compton burger stand in late January 2015 after an argument on the set of a commercial for the N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton.”
One of the men, Terry Carter, 55, died. Knight has pleaded not guilty to the murder charge and says he acted in self-defense. In separate cases, he is also accused of robbery and threatening the film’s director, F. Gary Gray.
But it was evidence from the murder case — grainy surveillance video from Tam’s Burgers of Knight’s red Ford F-150 Raptor pickup ramming into the men — that led to Kelly’s indictment.
Prosecutors say Kelly, along with Knight, a member of his defense team and Knight’s former business partner, Mark Blankenship, hatched a scheme to sell the video to TMZ. A judge had signed an order barring release of the video, which was given to Knight’s defense team as discovery in the case, to the public or the media.
After obtaining a warrant to search Kelly’s phone, detectives found she exchanged texts with a TMZ corespondent in March 2015 negotiating a price for the surveillance footage.
“I can’t wait to get this video to you,” Kelly wrote, according to the indictment.
Though Kelly and Knight communicated in code about a plan to sell the video for up to $150,000, prosecutors say the actual sale price was $55,000. (Kelly was ordered Thursday to pay $55,000 in restitution to Tam’s Burgers.)
At a bail hearing last month, a prosecutor argued that Kelly was a public safety risk, alleging that she’s one of several people close to Knight who tried to bribe or intimidate witnesses in his murder trial.
“Her goal,” the prosecutor said, “is to get Mr. Knight acquitted through illegal means.”
As part of Kelly’s plea agreement, the district attorney’s office dropped two other charges against her: conspiracy to obstruct justice and conspiracy to commit grand theft.
Gorin said his client “maintained all along that some of the attorneys had advised her that the conduct” — selling the video — “was proper.” But Kelly, who faced up to three years behind bars, is satisfied with the resolution and hopes to eventually have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor, Gorin said.
“She can move on with her life and be with her family,” the attorney said.
Gorin said Kelly— who spent 32 days behind bars — was expected to be released Thursday night.
For more news from the Los Angeles County courts, follow me on Twitter: @marisagerber
Times staff writers Alene Tchekmedyian and James Queally contributed to this report.
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