Ex-gang leader to go on trial in June over 1996 killing of Tupac Shakur

Duane Davis made a brief court appearance in shackles in a Las Vegas court on Tuesday.

Ex-gang leader to go on trial in June over 1996 killing of Tupac Shakur PA Media

A US judge has set a June 3 date for the murder trial of a former southern California street gang leader who has become the only person to be charged over the 1996 killing of hip-hop music star Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas.

Duane “Keffe D” Davis made a brief court appearance in shackles on Tuesday and spoke quietly with two court-appointed lawyers who were named to his case before he pleaded not guilty last Thursday.

He remains jailed in Las Vegas.

Duane ‘Keffe D’ Davis arrives in Clark County District Court.PA Media

His public defenders, Charles Cano and Robert Arroyo, said they intend to file documents seeking his release on bail ahead of trial. The lawyers declined outside court to comment about the case, saying they have not had time to examine what prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo termed “voluminous” evidence.

Davis, 60, originally from Compton, was arrested on September 29 outside a Las Vegas-area home where police served a search warrant July 17.

He has said publicly in recent years and in a 2019 memoir that he orchestrated the drive-by shooting that killed Shakur and wounded rap music mogul Marion “Suge” Knight.

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

Defence lawyer Robert Arroyo with Duane Davis.PA Media

Davis is the only person still alive who was in the vehicle from which shots were fired. He has said he has been diagnosed with cancer.

Prosecutors allege the 1996 shooting followed clashes between rival East Coast and West Coast groups for dominance in the world of gangsta rap.

A grand jury was told that Shakur was involved in a brawl at a Las Vegas Strip casino with Davis’s nephew, Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, shortly before the shooting.

Anderson, then 22, was in the car with Davis but denied involvement in Shakur’s killing. Anderson died two years later in a shooting in Compton.

Tupac Shakur.PA Media

Davis implicated himself during multiple interviews and in his memoir which described his life leading a Crips gang in Compton.

He wrote that he was promised immunity from prosecution in 2010 when he told authorities in Los Angeles what he knew about the fatal shootings of Shakur and rival rapper Christopher Wallace – known as The Notorious BIG and Biggie Smalls – six months later in Los Angeles.

Shakur died at the age of 25. He had five number one albums in the US, was nominated for six Grammy Awards and was inducted in 2017 into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He received a posthumous star this year on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

A street near where Shakur lived in Oakland, California, in the 1990s was renamed last Friday in his honour.

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