Suge Knight has yet another new lawyer leading one of his criminal cases.
The former rap mogul, who appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom Monday, said Dominque E. Banos was taking over his fight against allegations that he threatened to kill or injure “Straight Outta Compton” director F. Gary Gray.
Prosecutors expressed surprise at the latest turn of the revolving door on Knight’s legal team. They were given no advance notice Banos was replacing Knight’s previous lawyer, Matthew Fletcher.
They also asked the judge to remind Banos that the case was subject to a protective order limiting who can see discovery and communicate with Knight.
Knight, 52, stood for the hearing wearing his orange jail uniform and appeared engaged after a series of health scares.
“One of the things is,” he told Banos in open court, “the judge has got to let me get calls.”
Banos asked Judge Scott Gordon for an order allowing her to speak with Knight by phone. Gordon directed her to petition one of the other judges overseeing Knight’s legal saga.
Knight has been in jail since January 2015 on charges of murder, attempted murder and hit-and-run. Prosecutors say he intentionally mowed down two men in the parking lot of a Compton burger restaurant, killing one of them. The deadly confrontation unfolded soon after Knight visited a production set for “Straight Outta Compton.”
Knight has pleaded not guilty in the murder case, saying he was the victim of an armed ambush and hit the gas on his Ford Raptor because he feared for his life.
Suge Knight is accused of making death threats toward director F. Gary Gray (pictured).
Prosecutors say Knight wanted compensation for the use of his likeness in Gray’s film and knew what he was doing when he ran over production employee Cle (Bone) Sloan and local Compton businessman Terry Carter, killing Carter.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney disputes the presence of guns at the scene and last month charged Knight with making criminal threats against Gray.
A new indictment says Knight made specific threats against Gray in August 2014 that suggested “an immediate prospect of execution,” leading Gray to fear for his safety and that of his family.
Knight’s fiancée, Toi-Lin Kelly, said the threat claims were bogus.
“It is extremely suspicious that three years later they would go before a grand jury and indict Suge on such charges that are false and ridiculous,” she told the Daily News last month.
Knight’s decision to hire his new lawyer came after prosecutors said Fletcher had a conflict of interest in defending Knight. They said Knight and Fletcher discussed the possibility of paying witnesses in his murder case.
“I’ve never paid anyone, period, end of story,” Fletcher told The News.
On Monday, Gordon assigned the criminal threats case to a trial judge and set the next hearing for Oct. 3.