Why Did Suge Knight Go to Jail? The Full Story Explained

By Prison Insight Staff

Updated: May 17, 2023

Why did Suge Knight go to jail? Keep reading to uncover all the details and crucial facts now!

This blog post dives deep to explain the reasons for Suge Knight’s imprisonment, co-founder and former CEO of Death Row Records. We’ll take a closer look at the series of events that led to his incarceration and examine how his criminal past played a significant role in shaping his future.

In this comprehensive analysis, we’ll explore the deadly incident at Tam’s Burgers involving Terry Carter and Cle “Bone” Sloan. Additionally, we’ll delve into Suge Knight’s legal battle and previous felony convictions under California’s three-strikes law which influenced his sentencing.

As we continue our investigation into why Suge Knight went to jail, we’ll also discuss the health issues he faced while awaiting trial as well as dramatic incidents during pre-trial hearings. Furthermore, we’ll shed light on the civil suit filed by Terry Carter’s family members against him.

Last but not least, our exploration would be incomplete without examining Suge Knight’s criminal history before Death Row Records and his experiences as a victim of gun violence prior to the Terry Carter incident.

Table of Contents:

The Deadly Incident at Tam’s Burgers

On January 29, 2015, Suge Knight found himself in a tragic confrontation that would ultimately lead to his incarceration. At Tam’s Burgers in Compton, California, Knight attempted to meet with Dr. Dre but ended up driving into two men instead – local businessman Terry Carter and Cle “Bone” Sloan.

Confrontation near the promotional shoot for Straight Outta Compton

The incident took place near the set of a promotional shoot for the movie Straight Outta Compton. According to witnesses and reports from law enforcement officials, an argument between Suge Knight and Bone Sloan escalated quickly before turning violent. In an attempt to flee the scene after feeling threatened by Sloan, Knight turned his vehicle around and struck both men with his truck.

Turning himself in for questioning hours after Carter’s death

A few hours after Terry Carter was pronounced dead due to injuries sustained during the hit-and-run incident, Suge Knight voluntarily surrendered himself at a Los Angeles police station for questioning regarding his involvement. He was subsequently arrested on suspicion of murder.

In response to these events, Knight testified during trial proceedings that he acted out of self-defense because he believed Bone Sloan had been carrying a gun when their altercation occurred.

Killing Carter and Leaving Death Row Records Behind?

As a result of this deadly incident, Suge Knight’s life took a drastic turn. Not only did he face serious criminal charges for voluntary manslaughter, but his once-thriving music label, Death Row Records, began to crumble as well. With the loss of key artists and mounting legal troubles, Knight served time in prison for violating parole, armed robbery, and voluntary manslaughter. He suffered injuries during his time in jail and Knight turned to religion for solace.

The deadly incident at Tam’s Burgers resulted in the death of Terry Carter and Suge Knight turning himself in for questioning hours after. Moving on, charges and trial proceedings led to a plea deal resulting in voluntary manslaughter conviction which avoided life imprisonment under California’s three-strikes law.

Charges and Trial Proceedings

In the aftermath of the deadly incident at Tam’s Burgers, Suge Knight faced a series of serious charges. He was accused of murder, attempted murder, and hit-and-run in connection with the events that unfolded on January 29, 2015. Despite his attorneys arguing self-defense due to threats from Bone Sloan during their altercation, surveillance video captured incriminating evidence against him.

Plea Deal Resulting in Voluntary Manslaughter Conviction

To avoid a potential life sentence under California’s three-strikes law, Knight eventually accepted a plea deal offered by prosecutors. In September 2018, he pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter for killing Carter and causing grievous bodily harm to Sloan. Knight accepted the plea deal, serving nearly four years in prison before being sentenced to an additional 22.

Avoiding Life Imprisonment Under California’s Three-Strikes Law

By accepting a plea agreement, Suge Knight prevented the potential of a life sentence under California’s strict three-strikes law. The law calls for tougher penalties for those convicted of multiple violent offenses. Pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter instead of facing a murder trial left Knight with a more lenient sentence.

Throughout the trial proceedings, Knight maintained that he had acted in self-defense during the confrontation with Carter and Sloan. Prosecutors maintained that Knight’s conduct was intentional and planned, citing the security video as proof of his culpability. Ultimately, it was this video that played a crucial role in securing Knight’s conviction and subsequent prison sentence.

The plea deal resulted in Suge Knight’s voluntary manslaughter conviction, and he was able to avoid life imprisonment under California’s three-strikes law. Moving on from the charges and trial proceedings, it is important to look at jail conditions and health issues that may have caused delays during pre-trial hearings or any other dramatic incidents.

Jail Conditions and Health Issues

While awaiting trial behind bars since February 2015, Suge Knight complained about jail conditions as well as health issues which further delayed proceedings leading up to sentencing day on October 4th later that year. During these pre-trial hearings, there were several dramatic incidents involving his legal team.

Delays Caused by Health Concerns

Knight’s health concerns played a significant role in delaying the court proceedings. He reportedly suffered injuries from a fall in jail and experienced complications related to diabetes and blood clots. These medical issues led to multiple postponements of his trial dates, prolonging the process for all parties involved. In one instance, he collapsed during a hearing after complaining of chest pains, resulting in yet another delay.

Dramatic Incidents During Pre-Trial Hearings

  • In May 2015, Knight appeared disoriented during a court appearance for his bail hearing and was rushed to the hospital after collapsing.
  • In July 2016, Knight asserted that jailers had administered a drug to him while he was detained in the Los Angeles County Jail.
  • In August 2017, Knight turned himself into authorities after being indicted for making criminal threats against Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray.

The protracted court process, due to Knight’s health issues and the intricacy of his trial, concluded with him being found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and given a 28-year jail term.

The jail conditions and health issues have caused significant delays in the proceedings, but it is important to consider all factors involved. Despite these difficulties, a civil suit was filed by Carter family members which resulted in a mistrial being declared after jurors deadlocked.

Civil Suit Filed by Carter Family Members

In addition to the criminal charges Suge Knight faced, he was also involved in a civil lawsuit filed by Terry Carter’s family members. They sought damages resulting from wrongful death claims brought forth against him. The plaintiffs in this civil suit included widow Lillian Carter, daughters Crystal and Nekaya, as well as other relatives of the deceased.

Mistrial Declared After Jurors Deadlocked

The case went to trial but ultimately ended with a mistrial declared after jurors could not reach a unanimous decision. This deadlock meant that no verdict was reached on whether or not Knight should be held responsible for Terry Carter’s death in the civil court proceedings. A mistrial signifies no resolution due to a lack of consensus among jurors, rather than an acquittal.

While Suge Knight had already been sentenced for voluntary manslaughter in his criminal case, this separate civil suit served as another legal battle he needed to face regarding his actions at Tam’s Burgers back in 2015. Despite facing numerous legal challenges throughout his life – including violating parole, armed robbery, and assault convictions – this particular incident involving killing Carter and causing injuries to Sloan proved especially consequential given its fatal outcome.

Suge Knight’s history of violence has left lasting impacts on those affected by his actions, particularly the families who have lost loved ones due to these incidents. The civil suit filed by Carter’s family members serves as a reminder of the ongoing struggle for justice and closure in such cases, even after criminal proceedings have concluded.

The civil suit filed by Carter family members was ultimately dismissed, signaling the end of a lengthy and complicated legal battle. Suge Knight’s criminal history is one filled with previous convictions related to armed robbery and assault as well as being a victim of gun violence in August 2014.

Suge Knight’s Criminal History

Before founding Death Row Records, Marion “Suge” Knight had already been convicted on multiple occasions involving violence or weapons charges. His criminal history includes serving five years behind bars due to assault-related offenses along with federal firearms violations committed throughout early adulthood.

Previous Convictions Related to Armed Robbery and Assault

In the late 1980s, Suge Knight was convicted of armed robbery and faced multiple counts of battery and assault. In one instance, Suge Knight admitted to the crime of taking a car by force while armed. Additionally, he faced multiple counts of battery and assault over the years as well. Despite these convictions, Knight managed to establish himself as a prominent figure in the music industry by co-founding Death Row Records alongside Dr. Dre in 1991.

Victim of Gun Violence in August 2014

Prior to his incarceration for voluntary manslaughter, Suge Knight also suffered injuries from an incident where he became a victim of gun violence. In August 2014, during a pre-MTV Video Music Awards party hosted by Chris Brown at Hollywood nightclub 1OAK, Knight was shot six times. Fortunately for him, none of the bullets hit any vital organs and he survived this attack.

This violent past eventually caught up with him when Terry Carter lost his life following their altercation near Tam’s Burgers parking lot which resulted in Suge being charged with murder among other crimes including attempted murder and hit-and-run charges leading up towards sentencing day on October 4th later that year. Despite his attorneys arguing self-defense due to threats from Bone Sloan during their altercation, surveillance video captured incriminating evidence against him.


Overall, Suge Knight’s time in jail stemmed from a deadly incident at Tam’s Burgers that resulted in the death of Terry Carter. He faced charges for voluntary manslaughter and violating parole, along with a legal battle that could have led to life imprisonment if convicted of murder. While awaiting trial, Knight suffered health issues and faced dramatic incidents during pre-trial hearings.

In addition to his criminal history before Death Row Records and being a victim of gun violence prior to the Terry Carter incident, Knight also had to face a civil suit filed by Carter’s family members. Despite testifying virtually during the trial, he ultimately served time for his actions.

If you or someone you know is currently incarcerated or facing legal battles as Suge Knight did, visit Prison Insight for resources and support.

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