The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department on Monday freed three associates of Death Row Records founder Marion "Suge" Knight who were accused of conspiring to kill a gang rival.
Lt. Bob Rifkin said Monday that the three, who were picked up during a sweeping raid Thursday, were freed pending further investigation.
Rifkin said they had to be released because state law prohibits authorities from keeping suspects in custody for more than 48 hours without filing formal charges against them. "There is just a plethora of evidence to sift through," he said.
The three were former Los Angeles Sheriff's Deputy Kordell Depree Knox, 37, and two reputed gang members, Michael Payne, 25, and Theodore Kelly, 29.
They were accused of conspiracy in connection with the June 7 killing of reputed gang rival Eric Letheal Daniel, 29, in revenge for the death of another Knight associate who was gunned down in April.
Two others were picked up during last week's raid on unrelated drug possession charges. One of those, DeShone Lacey, also was released, while the other, Darryl Small, was held in custody on an out-of-state probation violation, Rifkin said.
The raid involved 16 sites, including the Wilshire Boulevard offices of Tha Row, formerly Death Row Records, and Knight's homes.
Sheriff's officials have said Knight is not a suspect in their investigation, which focuses on a string of gang killings, including several in which the victims were Knight employees or associates.