Suge Knight has a defense to the fatal hit and run ... he didn't know he hit and ran.
Sources connected with Suge tell TMZ ... he claims he was in fear of his life when he gunned his truck, striking and killing Terry Carter and injuring Cle "Bone" Sloan.
Suge says he had just been beaten by 2 to 4 guys while he sat hostage in his truck. And he says, he was frail because he was shot 6 times last Summer and on top of that, almost died recently from a blood clot.
Suge says he was so discombobulated when he floored it he had no idea his truck struck anyone.
Here's the problem ... even if this gets him out of a hit and run, cops still believe he intentionally tried to run over Bone and then hit Terry by accident, and if true that would constitute felony murder.