‘Suge’ Knight prosecutor uses time-tested strategy on recanting witness
By Marisa Gerber | LA Times
April 17, 2015
For homicide investigators, Cle “Bone” Sloan was a key witness in their murder investigation of Marion “Suge” Knight. Sloan told them the onetime rap mogul had threatened to kill him immediately before running over him and another man with his truck.
But during a preliminary hearing this week, Sloan suddenly became more reticent. He refused to say Knight ran him over and insisted that he could not remember key details of the incident that left him with serious injuries and killed Terry Carter. Under questioning from prosecutors, Sloan cried on the witness stand and declared he was not a “snitch.”
Despite that, a judge ruled Thursday that Knight should stand trial on murder and attempted murder charges.
But prosecutors still face an obstacle as their case heads to trial: Dealing with a reluctant witness.
Sloan’s testimony highlights what legal experts say is a frequent occurrence in the justice system as witnesses insist they have forgotten what they saw or change their stories. Some recant out of fear of retaliation, but experts say others are motivated by a powerful unwritten code against cooperating with police and prosecutors.
Recantations are particularly common in cases where witnesses, the accused or both have gang affiliations — and occur even when witnesses are no longer living the gang lifestyle or are called to testify against members of rival gangs.