A former California gang leader has pleaded not guilty to orchestrating rapper Tupac Shakur’s drive-by shooting in Las Vegas in 1996.
Duane Keith “Keffe D” Davis, 60, is the only person still alive who was in the vehicle from which shots were fired.
He is also the only person ever charged in connection with the case.
The charges against him were prompted by his own descriptions in recent years about orchestrating the deadly attack, prosecutors said.
Image: Tupac Shakur in 1993 Pic: Michael Ferguson/MediaPunch/IPx The judge said prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty, but Davis could be jailed for life if convicted.
Attorney Ross Goodman, who represented Davis until he lost a legal bid that barred him from hiring a private lawyer, previously said prosecutors lack witnesses and key evidence, including a gun or vehicle, for the murder.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson declined to respond to Mr Goodman’s criticism of the evidence, saying that a jury will weigh the results of the police investigation.
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The suspect will appear in court again on Tuesday for the trial to be scheduled.
Image: Duane Davis Pic: Las Vegas Police Department via AP Davis, originally from Compton, California, was arrested on 29 September outside a home in a Las Vegas suburb.
He remains in custody without bail.
The indictment alleges Davis obtained and provided a gun to someone in the back seat of a Cadillac before the car-to-car gunfire killed Shakur and wounded rap music mogul Marion “Suge” Knight at an intersection just off the Las Vegas Strip.
Knight, now 58, is in prison in California, serving a 28-year sentence for the death of a Compton businessman in 2015.
Image: Court-released image of Tupac and Knight in the car the pair were shot in Shakur died a week after the shooting, aged 25. The identity of his murderer remains one of hip-hop music’s most enduring mysteries.
Prosecutors allege his 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 a musical genre dubbed “gangsta rap”.
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What happened to rapper Tupac Shakur? The grand jury was told the shooting was retaliation for an earlier fight at a Las Vegas casino involving Shakur and Davis’ nephew, Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson.
Prosecutors said 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 didn’t identify Anderson as the shooter.
Anderson, then 22, denied involvement in Shakur’s killing and died two years later in a separate shooting in Compton. The other back seat passenger and the driver of the Cadillac are also dead.
Shakur is largely considered one of the most influential and versatile rappers of all time. He had five number one albums, was nominated for six Grammy Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017.