Los Angeles - Marion "Suge" Knight and comedian Katt Williams should stand trial on charges they robbed a celebrity photographer of her camera last year, a judge ruled on Tuesday.
Los Angeles Superior Court Ronald Coen said there was enough evidence to support the robbery charges and a separate charge of felony criminal threats filed against Knight over comments he made to the photographer before she was attacked in Beverly Hills in September 2014.
Attorneys for Williams and Knight said their clients were trying to prevent the photographer from shooting images of Knight's young son. Knight's lawyer Thomas Mesereau denied his client was actively involved in taking the camera, saying the photographer's testimony and surveillance footage supported his contention that the Death Row Records co-founder never touched the photographer or took her camera.
'Any father would do the same'
He said Knight was upset because Leslie Redden and another photographer were shooting images of son just says after Knight was wounded in a nightclub shooting.
"The only evidence that exists is he didn't want his son photographed," Mesereau said. "Any father would have acted as he did."
Williams' attorney, Shawn Holley, acknowledged the comedian briefly took the camera after it was taken by an unidentified woman in Knight and Williams' entourage. Holley said Williams took the camera only to erase any images of Knight's son, who was with his father while they were visiting a Beverly Hills studio in September.
Knight and Williams have pleaded not guilty and are due to be re-arraigned in the case on 27 October.
Redden, a celebrity photographer who goes by the name KAT, testified she suffered a concussion and injuries to her hands and wrist in the 5 September 2014 attack. A confrontation with Knight in which he calls her a "bitch" and tells someone to get her camera was recorded on a video recorder she wore around her neck.
Redden said she never recovered her professional camera, which was taken by a woman who attacked her and Williams.
'It was getting dangerous'
Knight is also seen on the video approaching Redden before she takes off running. "I just remember looking at his eyes and realising it was getting very dangerous," Redden testified on Tuesday.
Redden broke down when describing her injuries, saying; "There's a rip in my wrist. I'm ambidextrous, but my hands don't work," she said.
Knight remains jailed without bail in a separate murder case filed after he ran over two men outside a Compton burger stand in January, killing one and seriously injuring an adviser to the film Straight Outta Compton.
Knight, 50, has pleaded not guilty and already been ordered to stand trial in that case, but no trial date has been set. Coen set a 11 December court hearing to get an update on the case.
Knight was a key player in the gangster rap scene that flourished in the 1990s, and his Death Row Records label once listed Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg among its artists. He lost control of the company after it was forced into bankruptcy.
He faces potential life sentences if convicted in either case because of prior convictions for armed robbery and assault with a gun.
Williams, 44, has starred in several comedy specials and appeared in films such as First Sunday and Friday After Next.