*Suge Knight and his attorney Matthew Fletcher are accused of trying to pay off witnesses ahead of the rap mogul’s murder trial, prosecutors revealed Wednesday.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office based the allegations on a series of prison phone calls between Suge and Fletcher. According to transcripts released by the prosecution, Suge, Fletcher, Suge’s fiancée Toi-Lin Kelly and business partner Mark Blankenship “had an understanding that they were going to assist the defendant in procuring witnesses for his defense, which included payments for fabricated testimony.”
In the recorded phone conversations, Fletcher allegedly discussed paying “witnesses” money to give false testimony during the trial. “I’ll pay anything … if we can get the two or three versions from the bikers on tape,” Fletcher said. “It’s going home time. Right? That’s a fair mother**king investment, you know, 20, 25 thousand dollars to pay to these mother**kers to get home.”
Speaking to the New York Daily News, Fletcher denied the allegations, instead saying the phone conversations discussed an attempt to acquire a second video from the January 2015 incident where Knight ran over and killed Terry Carter while trying to hit Cle “Bone” Sloan outside a promotional shoot for the film “Straight Outta Compton.”
Knight’s legal team claims that Sloan pointed a gun at Suge and, in an attempt to escape, Suge accelerated his Ford Raptor and hit Carter. The false witness testimony Fletcher allegedly hoped to acquire would have provided further proof of their account of the incident.
“I’ve never paid anyone, period, end of story,” Fletcher told the Daily News about the DA’s allegation. “As far as I know, [witnesses] haven’t been paid by anyone. I don’t believe Suge Knight has the money to pay anyone.”
However, after learning of the prison call, prosecutors employed a jailhouse informant to discuss the matter with Suge on a prison bus. The former Death Row CEO told the informant to contact his lawyers, who allegedly offered the informant money to provide false testimony.
“The defendant and Fletcher knew that to secure this testimony, money would have to exchange hands,” prosecutors said. “This is the essence of bribery: to influence a witness in exchange for him providing material testimony in a criminal proceeding.”
While conversations between Knight and Fletcher would usually be confidential, because Knight contacted his lawyer through a third party – often Kelly or Blankenship, who then conferenced-in Fletcher – the conversations were no longer protected by confidentiality laws.
The prosecution has not filed charged following the bribery accusations, but they did ask for a court inquiry into whether Fletcher’s “illegal activities” put him in conflict of representing Knight, the Associated Press reported.
Last week, Knight pleaded not guilty to additional charges of threatening Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray.