UPDATE: Suge Knight’s former lawyers Matthew Fletcher and Thaddeus Culpepper were indicted Monday on “conspiracy charges to bribe potential witnesses and circumvent the justice system in hopes of freeing their one-time client,” the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. A grand jury returned an indictment on charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to commit subornation of perjury, conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact.
Two of Suge Knight‘s former lawyers were arrested Thursday on allegations that they were “accessories after the fact,” a felony charge that stems from the Death Row Records mogul’s murder trial.
Matthew Fletcher and Thaddeus Culpepper, who both served as Knight’s attorneys on his still-pending murder trial, were taken into custody Friday, five months after prosecutors first accused the pair of bribing witnesses in order to help secure Knight a non-guilty verdict in his trial for the murder of Terry Carter. Both Fletcher and Culpepper denied the charges, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In August, prosecutors presented a 22-page filing detailing how Knight, Fletcher, Knight’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 a recorded prison conversation, Fletcher allegedly discussed paying people to act as “witnesses” during Knight’s trial; the crux of Knight’s defense is that the mogul saw someone brandish a gun outside the Straight Outta Compton promotional shoot in January 2015, potentially rendering Knight’s hit-and-run murder of Carter into an act of self-defense.
“I’ll pay anything … if we can get the two or three versions from the bikers on tape,” Fletcher said in the prison conversation. “It’s going home time. Right? That’s a fair motherfucking investment, you know, 20, 25 thousand dollars to pay to these motherfuckers to get home.” Prosecutors allege Fletcher was discussing witness tampering, while the lawyer previously stated he was talking about purchasing video from bikers that had corroborating evidence to the gun theory.
Prosecutors also accused Fletcher of leaking sealed surveillance video of Knight’s truck running over two men – Carter and Cle “Bone” Sloan,” allegedly Knight’s initial target – to TMZ. While Fletcher denied the accusations – the video appeared on TMZ one day after he took on Knight as a client – both Kelly and Blankenship faced charges for selling the video to TMZ for $55,000.
Prosecutors claimed in the August filing that Culpepper approached a sheriff’s department informant offering to pay for testimony that the informant witnessed the Carter murder and would further Knight’s alibi, the Associated Press reports.
Knight’s murder trial was scheduled to begin on January 8th but has been pushed to a tentative date later this year, the New York Daily News adds. The Death Row Records CEO has cycled though at least five lawyers for the case, including Fletcher, Culpepper, former prosecutor Stephen L. Schwartz and Michael Jackson lawyer and Bill Cosby’s current attorney Thomas Mesereau.