LAS VEGAS (AP) — A Nevada judge set a June 3 date for the murder trial of a former Southern California street gang leader who has become the only person ever charged in the 1996 killing of hip-hop music icon Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas.
Duane “Keffe D” Davis made a brief court appearance in shackles Tuesday and spoke quietly with two court-appointed attorneys who were named to his case before he pleaded not guilty last Thursday.
Davis remains jailed in Las Vegas.
His public defenders, Charles Cano and Robert Arroyo, said they intend to file documents seeking his release on bail ahead of trial. The attorneys declined outside court to comment about the case, saying they have not yet had time to examine what prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo termed “voluminous” evidence.
Davis said publicly in recent years and in a 2019 tell-all memoir that he orchestrated the drive-by shooting that killed Shakur and wounded rap music mogul Marion “Suge” Knight.
Knight, now 58, is serving 28 years in a California prison for the death of a Compton businessman in 2015.
Davis is the only person still alive who was in the vehicle from which shots were fired. He has said he has been diagnosed with cancer. Cano declined Tuesday to comment about his client’s health.
Prosecutors allege the 1996 shooting followed clashes between rival East Coast and West Coast groups for dominance in the musical genre dubbed “gangsta rap.” The grand jury was told that Shakur was involved in a brawl at a Las Vegas Strip casino with Davis’ nephew, Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, shortly before the shooting.
Anderson, then 22, was in the car with Davis but denied involvement in Shakur’s killing. Anderson died two years later in a shooting in Compton.
Davis implicated himself during multiple interviews and in his memoir that described his life leading a Crips gang sect in Compton.
He wrote that he was promised immunity from prosecution in 2010 when he told authorities in Los Angeles what he knew about the fatal shootings of Shakur and rival rapper Christopher Wallace six months later in Los Angeles. Wallace was known as The Notorious B.I.G. and Biggie Smalls.
Shakur died at age 25. He had five No. 1 albums, was nominated for six Grammy Awards and was inducted in 2017 into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. He received a posthumous star this year on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
A street near where Shakur lived in Oakland, California, in the 1990s was renamed last Friday in his honor.