Knight’s fi­ancee takes plea deal for role in video sale

Los Angeles Times - - CITY & STATE - By Marisa Ger­ber marisa.ger­ber @la­times.com Times staff writ­ers Alene Tchekm­e­dyian and James Queally con­trib­uted to this re­port.

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.

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.

Damian Do­var­ganes As­so­ci­ated Press

TOI-LIN KELLY, fi­ancee of ex-rap im­pre­sario Marion “Suge” Knight, pleaded no con­test to or­ches­trat­ing the sale of video ev­i­dence from his mur­der case.

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