Tupac murder trial: Suspected killer appears in court for status update

Duane ‘Keffe D’ Davis, the man charged with the 1996 murder of hip-hop legend Tupac Shakur, appeared in court on Tuesday for a status update. 

Davis' attorney, Carl Arnold, said his client's accounts of the killing were "fiction" and prosecutors lacked key evidence to obtain a murder conviction. 

"He himself is giving different stories," Arnold told reporters outside a courtroom following a brief status check with his client in front of a Nevada judge. 

"We haven’t seen more than just his word," Arnold said of Davis' police and media interviews since 2008 in which prosecutors say he incriminated himself in Shakur's killing — including Davis' 2019 tell-all memoir of life leading a street gang in Compton, California.

Prosecutor Binu Palal did not immediately comment outside court about Arnold's statements. Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson has said evidence against Davis is strong and it will be up to a jury to decide the credibility of Davis' accounts.

Arnold said his client wanted to make money with his story, so he embellished or outright lied about his involvement in the car-to-car shooting that killed Shakur.

Davis was arrested in September 2023 outside his home in Henderson, a suburb of Las Vegas, Nevada, after a search was executed at the home in connection to Shakur's murder in July. 

He pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge and has a tentative trial date set for Nov. 4.

Davis’ bail was set at $750,000 and he was granted house arrest in January, however he is still being held at the Clark County Detention Center, according to a local news report.


Duane "Keefe D" Davis, 60, appears in a Las Vegas court on October 19, 2023 for his arraignment on murder charges in the death of rapper Tupac Shakur. Shakur, 25, died on September 7, 1996, six days after being shot while in a car near the Las Vegas

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Who is Duane ‘Keffe D’ Davis?

Davis, a self-described "gangster," has long been known to investigators as one of four suspects identified early in the investigation. He isn’t the accused gunman but was described as the group’s ringleader. In Nevada, you can be charged with a crime, including murder, if you help someone commit the crime.

Davis was the shot caller for this group of individuals that committed this crime," said Las Vegas police homicide Lt. Jason Johansson, "and he orchestrated the plan that was carried out."

Davis himself has admitted in interviews and in his 2019 tell-all memoir, "Compton Street Legend," that he provided the gun used in the drive-by shooting.

He was in the front passenger seat of the Cadillac and had slipped a gun into the back seat, from where he said the shots were fired.

He implicated his nephew, Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson, saying he was one of two people in the backseat. Anderson, a known rival of Shakur, had been involved in a casino brawl with the rapper shortly before the shooting.

"Little did anyone know that this incident right here would ultimately lead to the retaliatory shooting and death of Tupac Shakur," said Johansson, the police lieutenant.

Anderson died two years later. He denied any involvement in Shakur’s death.

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What happened on Sept. 7, 1996?

Rapper Tupac Shakur poses for photos backstage after his performance at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois in March 1994. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

Rapper Tupac Shakur poses for photos backstage after his performance at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois in March 1994. (Photo By Raymond Boyd/Getty Images)

Shakur, who was 25 at the time, was traveling in a black BMW driven by Death Row Records founder Marion "Suge" Knight in a convoy of about 10 cars, apparently headed to a nightclub, after watching Mike Tyson knockout Bruce Seldon in a championship fight at the MGM Grand.

After the fight, Shakur, Knight and associates were involved in a fight at the hotel.

While driving down the Las Vegas Strip, a white Cadillac with four men inside pulled alongside the BMW while it was stopped at a red light. One person opened fire, riddling the passenger side of Knight’s car with bullets, police said. Sitting in the passenger seat, Shakur was shot four times, at least twice in the chest. Knight was grazed by a bullet fragment or shrapnel from the car.

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Shakur was rushed to a hospital, where he died six days later.

Shakur’s death came amid his feud with rap rival the Notorious B.I.G., who was fatally shot six months later. At the time, both rappers were in the middle of the infamous East Coast-West Coast rivalry, which primarily defined the hip-hop scene during the mid-1990s.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.