In a US court in Los Angeles, a former gang member who had long said he was involved in the murder of rap star Tupac Shakur 25 years ago pleaded not guilty. Duane “Keefe D” Davis, 60, was charged with murder in September, even though he wasn’t the one with the gun in the Las Vegas gang fight.
Davis, who is 60 years old and used to be in Compton’s South Side Crips gang, has long admitted to being involved in the killing. He says he was the “on-site commander” of the plan to kill Shakur and Death Row Records boss Marion “Suge” Knight as punishment for beating up his nephew.
He did not admit to killing someone with a deadly weapon in order to help or support a criminal gang at a court hearing in Las Vegas. “Not guilty,” Davis told Judge Tierra Jones when she asked him what he thought. Nevada law says that anyone who helps or encourages someone to kill someone can be charged with murder. This is similar to how a getaway driver can be charged with a bank heist even if he never went inside the bank.
On Thursday, prosecutors said they would not be going for the death sentence if Davis was found guilty. The Clark County District Attorney, Steve Wolfson, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal after the hearing, “We talked about it, and I decided that it’s not a case where we should seek the death penalty.”
When he was killed on September 7, 1996, Shakur was a big name in the world of rap. His songs California Love, Changes, and Dear Mama were some of the biggest hits in hip-hop history. He was only 25 years old. He was signed to Death Row Records, which was linked to the Los Angeles street gang Mob Piru at the time. Mob Piru had a long-running grudge against the South Side Compton Crips.
Soon after Davis was arrested, prosecutors said that they had known a lot about what happened the night of the murder for years, but they did not have enough proof to move the case forward. Things started to change when Davis wrote a book and talked about the crime on TV. He was said to be the only person in the car that night who was still alive.
Wolfson said that things Davis had said in the past would be taken into account during the hearing. He also said that he knew the case was getting attention around the world, but that wouldn’t change how it was treated. He told the Review-Journal, “The fact that the whole world is watching doesn’t really matter.”