A former Southern California street gang leader pleaded not guilty Thursday to orchestrating a drive-by shooting that killed Tupac Shakur in 1996 in Las Vegas.
Duane Keith ‘Keffe D’ Davis, the only person still alive who was in the vehicle from which the shots were fired and the only person ever charged with a crime in the case, stood in chains before Clark County District Judge Tierra Jones.
Special public defenders Robert Arroyo and Charles Cano represented Davis in court.
Before entering his plea Thursday, Davis wore a dark blue jail suit and answered a short series of questions, telling the judge that he had attended “a year of college,” that he was not under the influence of any drugs, medication or alcohol, and that he understood that he had been accused of murder.
Suspect Duane Keith “Keffe D” Davis appears for arraignment at the Regional Justice Center Thursday in Las Vegas. Davis, a former Southern California street gang leader, has pleaded not guilty to orchestrating a drive-by shooting that killed Tupac Shakur in 1996 in Las Vegas.
District Court Judge Tierra Jones (photo) presides over a court appearance at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Rapper Tupac Shakur was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas on September 13, 1996. He was 25 years old at the time of his death and has been described as one of the “most influential rappers of all time” .
Davis, 60, is from Compton, California. It was arrested on September 29 outside a house in suburban Henderson where Las Vegas police served a search warrant July 17, bringing renewed attention to one of hip-hop music’s most enduring mysteries.
Davis remains jailed without bail, did not testify before the grand jury that indicted him and refused to come out of jail to speak to The Associated Press.
THE charge alleges Davis obtained and provided a gun to someone in the back seat of a Cadillac before the car-to-car shootings that fatally wounded Shakur and injured the rap music mogul Marion ‘Suge’ Chevalier at an intersection just off the Las Vegas Strip.
Shakur died a week later. He was 25 years old.
Knight, now 58, is in prison in California serving time 28 year sentence for the death of a Compton businessman in 2015. He did not respond to messages from his attorneys seeking comment on Davis’ arrest.
Prosecutors say Shakur’s Las Vegas killing was the result of a competition between East Coast members of a Bloods gang sect and West Coast groups of a Crips sect, including Davis, to dominance in a musical genre nicknamed “gangsta rap”.
The grand jury learned that the Sept. 7, 1996, shooting in Las Vegas was retaliation for a fight hours earlier at a Las Vegas Strip casino involving Shakur and Davis’ nephew, Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson.
Prosecutors told the grand jury that Davis implicated himself in the murder in several interviews and in a revealing 2019 memoir describing his life leading a Crips Sect in Compton.
Davis said he obtained a .40 caliber handgun and handed it to Anderson, a member of Davis’ gang, in the back seat of a Cadillac, although he did not identify Anderson as the shooter .
Davis spoke with former attorney Ross Goodman in court on October 19. Davis lost his bid to hire Goodman. Two weeks ago, the defense attorney said prosecutors lacked key witnesses and evidence, including a gun or vehicle, for the murder committed 27 years ago.
Duane Keith ‘Keffe D’ Davis stood in chains Thursday before Clark County District Judge Tierra Jones as he pleaded not guilty to the murder of Tupac Shakur.
Rap music mogul Marion ‘Suge’ Knight (pictured) was driving the BMW that transported Tupac the night he was shot. Knight is currently serving a 28-year sentence for a 2015 murder.
Anderson, then 22, denied involvement in Shakur’s murder and died two years later in a shooting in his hometown of Compton. The other rear passenger and the driver of the Cadillac also died.
In his book, Davis wrote that he told authorities in 2010 what he knew about the murders of Shakur and his rival. Famous BIGwhose legal name is Christopher Wallace, to protect himself and 48 of his associates in the Southside Compton Crips gang from prosecution and the possibility of a life sentence.
Wallace, also known as Biggie Smalls, was shot and killed killed in Los Angeles in March 1997, six months after Shakur’s death.
Shakur, who was 25 at the time of his death, was widely considered one of the most influential and versatile rappers of all time.