Ex-gang leader pleads not guilty to Tupac Shakur’s murder

Duane Davis appears for his arraignment at the Regional Justice Center on November 2 (AP)
Duane Davis appears for his arraignment at the Regional Justice Center on November 2 (AP)

A man accused of the 1996 killing of one of the fost famous rappers of all time, Tupac Shakur, has pleaded not guilty to his murder.

Duane Keith "Keffe D" Davis appeared in court in Las Vegas on Thursday as the only person ever charged with a crime in the case.

Special public defenders Robert Arroyo and Charles Cano represented him in court.

Davis, 60, was taken into custody on September 29 outside a suburban home where Las Vegas police served a search warrant on July 17.

The former Southern California street gang leader, originally from Compton, remains in custody without bail.

He did not testify before the grand jury that indicted him, and has declined to speak to the media.

The indictment alleges Davis obtained and provided a gun to someone in the back seat of a Cadillac before the car-to-car gunfire that mortally wounded Tupac Shakur and wounded rap music mogul Marion "Suge" Knight at an intersection just off the Las Vegas Strip.

Shakur died a week later – at just 25 years old.

Davis, 60, is originally from Compton, California (AP)
Davis, 60, is originally from Compton, California (AP)
Rapper Tupac Shakur died at just 25 years old (AP)
Rapper Tupac Shakur died at just 25 years old (AP)

Knight, now 58, is in prison in California, serving a 28-year sentence for the death of a Compton businessman in 2015.

Prosecutors allege that Shakur's killing in Las Vegas came out of competition between East Coast members of a Bloods gang sect and West Coast groups of a Crips sect, including Davis, for dominance in the musical genre dubbed "gangsta rap".

The grand jury was told the shooting, on September 7, 1996, was retaliation for a brawl hours earlier at a Las Vegas Strip casino involving Shakur and Davis's nephew, Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson.

Prosecutors told a grand jury that Davis implicated himself in the killing in multiple interviews and a 2019 tell-all memoir that described his life leading a Crips sect in Compton.

Davis has said he obtained a .40-calibre handgun and handed it to Anderson, a member of Davis' gang, in the back seat of a Cadillac, though he did not identify Anderson as the shooter.

Anderson, then 22, denied involvement in Shakur's killing and died two years later in a shooting in his hometown of Compton.

The other back seat passenger and the driver of the Cadillac are also dead.

In his book, Davis wrote that he told authorities in 2010 what he knew of the killings of Shakur and gang rival, Notorious BIG, whose legal name was Christopher Wallace, to protect himself and 48 of his Southside Compton Crips gang associates from prosecution and the possibility of life sentences in prison.

Wallace, also known as Biggie Smalls, was shot and killed in Los Angeles in March 1997, six months after Shakur's death. He was 24.

Shakur is largely considered one of the most influential and versatile rappers of all time.

He had five No. 1 albums, was nominated for six Grammy Awards, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017, and received a posthumous star this year on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

He is the subject of a current Los Angeles museum exhibit: Tupac Shakur. Wake Me When I'm Free.