LAS VEGAS — The self-described mobster who police and prosecutors say orchestrated the 1996 shooting death of Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas appeared before a Nevada judge for the first time Wednesday.
Duane “Keffe D” Davis, 60, was arrested last week while taking an early morning jog near his home in suburban Henderson. A few hours later, a grand jury indictment charging him with murder was unsealed in Clark County District Court.
Grand jurors also voted to enhance sentencing for allegations of deadly weapon use and gang activity. If Davis is convicted, his sentence could increase by decades.
Davis declined The Associated Press’ request for an interview from jail, where he is being held without bail. Los Angeles-based attorney Edi Faal told The Associated Press in a brief phone interview that he was Davis’ longtime personal attorney and helped him hire a lawyer in Las Vegas.
“I’ve been working with him for more than twenty years,” Faal said. “But I have no comment at this stage.”
Davis was a long-known suspect in the case and publicly acknowledged his role in the murder in interviews ahead of his 2019 tell-all memoir, “Compton Street Legend.”
“When living the gangster lifestyle, one thing is for sure,” he wrote. “You already know that the things you take out will come back; “You never know how or when it will happen, but there is no doubt that it will come.”
Police and prosecutors said Davis’ own comments revived the police investigation that led to the indictment. In mid-July, Las Vegas police raided Davis’ home, drawing renewed attention to one of hip-hop music’s most enduring mysteries.
Prosecutors allege that Shakur’s murder stemmed from a rivalry and rivalry for dominance in a musical genre that was then called “gangsta rap.” It pitted East Coast members of the Bloods gang sect affiliated with rap music mogul Marion “Suge” Knight against West Coast members of the Crips cult, who Davis said he led in Compton, California.
Tensions escalated in Las Vegas on the night of September 7, 1996, when a fight broke out between Shakur and Davis’ nephew, Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, at the MGM Grand hotel-casino after a heavyweight boxing match won by Mike Tyson. .
Knight and Shakur went to fight like members of the South Side Crips,” prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo said in court last week. “And (Knight) brought his entourage, which included members of the Mob Piru gang.”
Following the casino fight, Knight drove a BMW with Shakur in the front passenger seat. When the car was stopped at a red light near the Las Vegas Strip, a white Cadillac pulled up to the passenger side and gunshots rang out.
Shakur, who was shot multiple times, died a week later at the age of 25. A bullet fragment grazed Knight’s body.
Davis said he was in the front passenger seat of the Cadillac and handed a .40-caliber handgun to his nephew, who was in the backseat, and that’s where the shots were fired.
In Nevada, a person can be convicted of murder for helping another person commit a crime.
Of the four people in the Cadillac that night, Davis is the only one alive. Anderson died in a shooting in Compton in May 1998. Before his death, Anderson denied involvement in Shakur’s death. The other backseat passenger, DeAndre “Big Dre” or “Freaky” Smith, died in 2004. Driver Terrence “Bubble Up” Brown was killed in a shooting in Compton in 2015.
Knight, now 58, is serving a 28-year prison sentence for running over and killing a Compton businessman outside a burger stand in January 2015.
Sheriff Kevin McMahill, who oversees the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, acknowledged criticism that his agency was slow to investigate Shakur’s killing.
“That was absolutely not the case,” McMahill said. He called the investigation “important to the police department.”
Shakur’s sister, Sekyiwa “Set” Shakur, released a statement calling the arrest “a pivotal moment” but did not praise the authorities investigating the incident.
“The silence of the last 27 years surrounding this case has been spoken loudly in our society,” he said.