Accused Former Gang Member Pleads Not Guilty in Tupac Shakur Murder Case

A former gang member who had previously claimed involvement in the murder of iconic rapper Tupac Shakur, which occurred a quarter of a century ago, entered a not guilty plea in a US court on Thursday.

Duane “Keefe D” Davis, aged 60, faced charges in September related to the murder, despite not being the individual who wielded the weapon during the gang confrontation in Las Vegas.

Davis, a former member of Compton’s South Side Crips gang, had long acknowledged his role in the killing, boasting of being the “on-site commander” in the attempt to assassinate Shakur and Death Row Records CEO Marion “Suge” Knight in retaliation for an assault on his nephew.

However, during a court hearing in Las Vegas, he denied the charge of murder with a deadly weapon with the intent to promote, further, or assist a criminal gang.

When asked for his plea, Davis told District Judge Tierra Jones, “Not guilty.”

According to Nevada law, anyone who aids or abets a murder can be charged with the killing, similar to how a getaway driver can be charged with a bank robbery even if they never entered the bank.

Prosecutors announced that they would not seek the death penalty if Davis is convicted.

Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson was quoted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal as saying, “We talked about it, and I determined that it’s not a case in which we should seek the death penalty” after the hearing.

Tupac Shakur, renowned for hits like “California Love,” “Changes,” and “Dear Mama,” was a prominent figure in the world of hip-hop when he was shot and killed on September 7, 1996, at the age of 25. He was signed to Death Row Records, which had affiliations with the Los Angeles street gang Mob Piru, leading to a long-standing rivalry with the South Side Compton Crips.

Prosecutors had stated shortly after Davis’s arrest that the events of the murder night had been widely understood for many years, but they lacked sufficient admissible evidence to proceed with the case. The situation changed when Davis, reportedly the sole surviving occupant of the car that night, authored an autobiography and discussed the crime on a television show.

Wolfson indicated that statements made by Davis in the past would be considered during the trial. He emphasized that despite the global attention the case was receiving, it would not influence how it was handled.

“The fact that the world is watching really doesn’t matter,” he said, according to the Review-Journal. “What we care about is presenting the evidence to a jury so that the jury can make the ultimate decision.”

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