Former Gang Leader to Stand Trial in the 1996 Murder of Tupac Shakur

Duane Keith “Keffe D” Davis appears for his arraignment at the Regional Justice Center, Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, in Las Vegas. Davis, a former Southern California street gang leader, pleaded not guilty Thursday to orchestrating a drive-by shooting that killed Tupac Shakur in 1996 in Las Vegas. (Ethan Miller/Pool Photo via AP)

Duane Keith “Keffe D” Davis, a former gang leader, is facing trial for the infamous killing of Tupac Shakur, with the potential of life imprisonment if convicted

Duane Keith “Keffe D” Davis, a former leader of a Southern California street gang, is set to learn his trial date on Tuesday for the murder of rap icon Tupac Shakur in 1996, with proceedings expected to commence next year. Davis, 60, has been charged with orchestrating the drive-by shooting that led to Shakur’s untimely death at 25 and also wounded rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight.

In a dramatic turn in one of hip-hop’s most notorious unsolved cases, Davis, originating from Compton, California, remains in custody in Las Vegas after pleading not guilty last Thursday. While he has escaped the threat of the death penalty, Davis faces the possibility of a life sentence if found guilty of the charges levied against him.

The arrest came after a police operation on September 29, where Davis was apprehended outside a home in the Las Vegas area. This followed a July search warrant execution by the authorities.

Over recent years, Davis has made several self-incriminating statements in interviews and his 2019 memoir, asserting his role in the planning and execution of the fatal shooting. This claim was reiterated in his memoir, which provides a detailed account of his life at the helm of a Crips gang faction in Compton.

Complicating the narrative, Davis has also stated he was diagnosed with cancer, adding a layer of urgency to the legal proceedings.

Prosecutors argue that the murder of Shakur resulted from escalating tensions between East Coast and West Coast factions within the “gangsta rap” music scene. The rivalry reached a boiling point with a reported altercation at a Las Vegas Strip casino involving Shakur and Davis’ nephew, Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson, just hours before the fatal event. Anderson, who was a suspect in Shakur’s murder, was killed in an unrelated shooting in Compton two years after Shakur’s death.

Davis previously claimed to have been offered immunity for his cooperation with law enforcement in 2010, detailing his knowledge of the events surrounding the deaths of Shakur and another prominent figure in the rap community, Christopher Wallace, also known as The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls. Wallace’s murder, occurring six months after Shakur’s, also remains a mystery.

Tupac Shakur’s legacy continues to resonate throughout the music world and beyond. With five No. 1 albums and six Grammy nominations, Shakur was posthumously inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2017 and recently received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In a tribute to his influence, a street in Oakland, California, where Shakur once resided, was renamed in his honor last Friday.