A former gang member who had long bragged about his involvement in the murder of rap legend Tupac Shakur a quarter-century ago has pleaded not guilty in a US court. Duane “Keefe D” Davis, 60, was charged in September with the killing, even though he was not the man holding the gun in the Las Vegas gang dispute.
Davis, 60, a former member of Compton’s South Side Crips gang, has long acknowledged his involvement in the killing, boasting that he was the “field commander” in the attempt to kill Shakur and Death Row Records boss Marion “Suge.” Knight in revenge for an attack on his nephew.
But at a court hearing in Las Vegas, he denied a charge of murder with a deadly weapon with intent to further, promote or assist a criminal gang. “I’m not guilty,” Davis told District Judge Tiera Jones when she requested his plea. Under Nevada law, anyone who aids or abets a murder can be charged with the murder, the same way a getaway driver can be charged with a bank robbery even if he never entered the bank.
Prosecutors said Thursday they would not seek the death penalty if Davis is convicted. “We talked about it and I decided it’s not a case in which we should seek the death penalty,” the Las Vegas Review-Journal quoted Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson as saying after the hearing.
Shakur, the best-selling hip-hop artist behind hits like California Love, Changesand Dear Momwas a major star in the rap world when he was murdered on September 7, 1996. He was only 25 years old. He was signed to Death Row Records, an outfit associated at the time with the Los Angeles Mob Piru street gang, which had a long-standing beef with the South Side Compton Crips.
Shortly after Davis was arrested, prosecutors said what happened the night of the murder had been largely understood for years, but they did not have enough admissible evidence to move forward with the case. That began to change when Davis, reportedly the only person in the car that night still alive, published an autobiography and spoke about the crime for a television show.
Wolfson said statements Davis had made in the past will be considered at trial. He added that he was aware that the case was attracting global attention, but he would not change the way it was handled. “The fact that people are actually watching doesn’t matter,” he said, according to the Review-Journal.
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