LOS ANGELES — A judge on Friday delayed the murder trial of Marion "Suge" Knight after the former rap music mogul hired the attorney who successfully defended Michael Jackson against child molestation charges.
The appearance of attorney Thomas Mesereau prompted the judge to reschedule a hearing on a motion by Knight to dismiss murder, attempted murder and hit-and-run charges.
The motion was pushed back until July 7 to give Mesereau time to file his own legal documents and get more familiar with the case.
Knight is accused of running over two men outside a Compton burger stand in January, killing one and seriously injuring the other. He has pleaded not guilty.
Mesereau is the fourth attorney to represent Knight since he was arrested.
"I am convinced he is innocent," Mesereau said outside court, adding that he would make no further comments.
Mesereau told Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen that he was concerned about Knight's treatment in jail.
The lawyer said Knight is being denied visits with family and phone calls.
"I don't think he's being treated humanely," Mesereau told the judge.
Coen said that wasn't entirely true and that he had entered a sealed order about Knight's rights in jail at the request of sheriff's officials that prosecutors did not know about.
Knight missed a court hearing Wednesday after telling deputies he was too sick to come to court.
The judge told Mesereau that he had ordered deputies to forcibly bring the Death Row Records co-founder to court if necessary.
"It won't happen again," the judge said of such absences.
Knight was a key player in the gangster rap scene that flourished in the 1990s, and his 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.
Knight has prior felony convictions for armed robbery and assault with a gun.
He pleaded no contest in 1995 and was sentenced to five years' probation for assaulting two rap entertainers at a Hollywood recording studio in 1992.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP.