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  • Ex-Detective Says He Thought Knight Was Linked To B.I.G. Killing

    A retired police detective testified Thursday that he was shocked as clues fell into place suggesting Marion "Suge" Knight was linked to the slaying of Notorious B.I.G., including a prison cellmate who said the Death Row Records founder confessed to him.
    Fred Miller, who retired from the Los Angeles Police Department in 1999 after 29 years on the force and two years investigating the New York rapper's killing, told a federal court jury, "I felt we possibly at one time had enough" evidence to arrest Knight.

    Miller described the alleged confession, gunshot residue inside Knight's Chevrolet sedan and a flurry of calls placed among Death Row associates in the two hours before the killing, but said he was unable to come up with any concrete connection between the rap mogul and the man he thought was the shooter, Amir Muhammad.

    Miller's testimony came in the federal wrongful death trial in which B.I.G.'s family blames the LAPD and city for his 1997 killing. It accuses former officer David Mack of using his police expertise or equipment to arrange for Muhammad to carry out the slaying at Knight's behest.

    Knight, who has unrelated convictions for assault and weapons, was never named an official suspect or arrested, has repeatedly denied involvement and was not named in the suit.

    "It's an indefensible position Mr. Knight is in," his attorney Dermot Givens told The Associated Press. "It's just a strange position to see a court place people in."

    Muhammad became a possible suspect after visiting Mack at the start of Mack's 14-year prison sentence for bank robbery. An informant told Miller a man with a name sounding like Muhammad was the shooter, and Miller said he sent out for a driver's license mug shot of the Fontana mortgage broker.

    "I thought the case was solved as soon as I saw that photograph," he testified. "Very uncanny, the resemblance of the composite drawing done by the witnesses and the driver's license photo of Amir Muhammad."

    However, when Miller took the Muhammad photo and others to three eyewitnesses in New York, they were unable to positively identify him.

    One man who had been with B.I.G. on the night he was killed did, however, identify a photo of Mack. The witness, Damion Butler, told Miller that Mack "could've been there -- he looked like he could've been one of the people standing at the door" to the Petersen Automotive Museum, Miller testified.

    B.I.G., born Christopher Wallace, was 24 when he was gunned down after leaving a party at the museum shortly after midnight on March 9, 1997. The case remains officially unsolved.

    Miller testified that after he presented all his evidence to the Los Angeles County prosecutor following the case, "He just felt we were just not quite there yet."

    Miller, who presented himself as very much the retired detective in a green-and-white Hawaiian-style shirt and regular "Yes, sir" answers, was a one-time partner of LAPD Detective David Poole.

    Poole, also scheduled to testify, has been a much more outspoken advocate for the Knight-Mack-Muhammad theory advanced in the Wallace family's lawsuit. And much of Miller's description of his investigation came during cross-examination, in which City Attorney Don Vincent got him to acknowledge that he never found any evidence linking Mack to the crime.

    Under direct questioning from Wallace family attorney Robert Frank, Miller related his surprise after interviewing Mario Ha'mmond, a cellmate of Knight at a San Luis Obispo prison.

    "I was rather shocked at what he told me," Miller said. "He told me he had spoken with an individual named Suge Knight and that Knight told him that he had had Biggie Smalls murdered."

    Miller said verified part of Ha'mmond's story and still believes "the information he provided us was very good."

    A search warrant affidavit filed by Miller's partner at the time and released this week by Wallace family attorneys quotes Ha'mmond as recounting his conversation with Knight. Miller confirmed its contents Thursday.

    The suit alleges the LAPD covered up Mack's involvement in the killing. Both Mack and Muhammad were dropped from the case this month and have repeatedly denied involvement.

    NBC News
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