Suge Knight associates are arrested in murder probe
A SWAT team raided the Beverly Hills office of rap label Tha Row (formerly Death Row) before dawn on Thursday morning to serve one of 17 murder-related warrants, the Associated Press reports. Suge Knight, the label’s controversial founder, was not a suspect, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said, but three arrests were made, including one at Tha Row and two elsewhere, in a probe of what sheriffs said was the June revenge killing of Eric Daniels, in response to the slaying of Row production manager Alton McDonald in April.
Arrested on charges of conspiracy to murder and held without bail were Theodore Peter Kelly, Michael Leroy Payne, and Kordell Depree Knox. Five other suspects remained at large. Capt. Pete Amico, commander of the Sheriff’s anti-gang unit, told Reuters that the three detainees were all associates of Knight’s. Kelly was arrested at the Row office. Knox is a former sheriff’s deputy who was fired two weeks ago over his suspected involvement in an assault with a deadly weapon, Sheriff’s spokesman Alba Yates told AP, though he didn’t specify whether that assault was tied to the current probe.
Knight’s lawyer, Arthur Barens, told AP that the locations searched included the rap mogul’s present and past homes throughout Los Angeles and Las Vegas. He said he found the raids ”heavy-handed,” noting that officers briefly forced Knight’s pregnant wife Michelle outside and handcuffed her, but he said that Knight would cooperate with investigators. She is also not considered a suspect.
Sheriffs said the probe was not tied to the unsolved slayings of several rap stars, including the murders of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. six years ago, or the New York murder of Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay last month. ”This was strictly a gang-related [investigation],” Amico said at a press conference. McDonald, who was shot to death at a Los Angeles gas station, was with Knight and Shakur in Las Vegas on the night Shakur was gunned down in 1996, the Los Angeles Times reports. Another Row employee, Henry Smith, was shot to death in his car last month.
Knight was released from prison in 2001 after serving five years for violating his probation by fighting in a hotel brawl in Vegas hours before Shakur was shot riding in Knight’s car. Biggie, Shakur’s rival, was shot in his own car in Los Angeles six months later. No one has ever been arrested for either killing, and Knight has denied involvement in both murders.
There are also no suspects in the slaying of Jay, shot by a masked assailant in his New York recording studio two weeks ago.