LAS VEGAS (AP) — A self-described gangster accused of masterminding Tupac Shakur’s shooting death in Las Vegas in 1996 made his first court appearance Wednesday on a murder charge.
Duane “Keffe D” Davis, 60, was shackled and dressed in a dark-blue jail uniform and plastic orange slippers. He was supposed to be arraigned on the charge on Wednesday, but the hearing was cut short after he asked Judge Tierra Jones to postpone the hearing while he seeks legal representation in Las Vegas. The arraignment has been rescheduled for October 19, according to Jones.
“Law enforcement hasn’t cared for a long time,” Tupac Shakur’s stepbrother Mopreme Shakur told The Associated Press via Zoom from his home in Los Angeles. “Young Black men frequently face delayed justice because we are frequently viewed as criminals.” So justice has been delayed for quite some time — despite all the eyes, all the attention, despite my brother’s celebrity.”
“It’s already been 27 years and then the legal process, so-called wheels of justice, moves historically slow,” he stated.
Davis was arrested last week near his home in Henderson’s suburbs. A grand jury indictment charging him with murder was unsealed in Clark County District Court just hours after his arrest last Friday.
Grand jurors also voted to increase sentencing for the use of a lethal weapon and alleged gang activity. If Davis is convicted, he could face decades in prison.
In a brief phone call after the hearing, Davis’ longtime personal attorney Edi Faal told the AP that he is assisting him in finding a Nevada lawyer.
“I have worked with him for more than two decades,” said Faal. “But at this point I do not have a comment.”
Davis declined an interview request from the Associated Press from jail, where he is being held without bond.
Davis had long been a suspect in the case, and had publicly admitted his role in the killing in interviews ahead of his 2019 tell-all memoir, “Compton Street Legend.”
“There’s one thing that’s for sure when living that gangster lifestyle,” he stated. “You already know that the stuff you put out is going to come back; you never know how or when, but there’s never a doubt that it’s coming.”
According to police and prosecutors, Davis’ comments rekindled the police investigation that led to the indictment. In mid-July, Las Vegas cops raided Davis’ home, reigniting interest in one of hip-hop music’s most enduring mysteries.
Prosecutors claim Shakur was murdered as a result of a rivalry and competition for dominance in a musical genre known at the time as “gangsta rap.” It pitted East Coast Bloods gang members associated with rap music mogul Marion “Suge” Knight against West Coast Crips members Davis claims he led in Compton, California.
On the night of September 7, 1996, a brawl broke out at the MGM Grand hotel-casino in Las Vegas between Shakur and Davis’ nephew, Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, following a heavyweight championship boxing match won by Mike Tyson.
“Knight and Shakur attended the fight, as did members of the South Side Crips,” prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo stated in court last week. “And (Knight) brought his entourage, which involved Mob Piru gang members.”
Following the casino brawl, Knight drove a BMW with Shakur in the front seat. When the car came to a stop at a red light near the Las Vegas Strip, a white Cadillac pulled up on the passenger side and opened fire.
Shakur died a week later at the age of 25 after being shot multiple times. A bullet fragment grazed Knight.
Davis claims he was in the front passenger seat of the Cadillac when the shots were fired and handed a.40-caliber handgun to his nephew in the back seat.
A person in Nevada can be convicted of murder for assisting another person in committing the crime.
Davis is the only survivor of the four people in the Cadillac that night. Anderson was killed in a shooting in Compton in May 1998. Anderson denied any involvement in Shakur’s death prior to his death. DeAndre “Big Dre” or “Freaky” Smith, the other backseat passenger, died in 2004. Terrence “Bubble Up” Brown, the driver, 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 businessman in Compton outside a burger stand in January 2015.
Sheriff Kevin McMahill, who is in charge of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, has acknowledged that his department was slow to investigate Shakur’s death.
“That simply was not the case,” McMahill stated. The investigation, he said, was “important to this police department.”
Sekyiwa “Set” Shakur, Shakur’s sister, issued a statement calling the arrest “a watershed moment,” but she did not praise the authorities who investigated the case.
“The silence of the past 27 years surrounding this case has spoken loudly in our community,” she stated.