(LAS VEGAS) — Duane “Keffe D” Davis, the suspect accused of orchestrating the 1996 drive-by killing of rapper Tupac Shakur, pleaded not guilty to murder during his arraignment on Thursday.
Davis’ arraignment had been delayed twice as he sorted out his representation.
Davis — who was handcuffed and dressed in a blue jumpsuit — said in Las Vegas court on Thursday that he had not retained his own counsel. He was appointed a public defender and waived his right to a speedy trial. He is next scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 7.
The state said it does not plan to pursue the death penalty in the murder case. Davis asked Judge Tierra Jones for clarification after she inquired if prosecutors were “taking this to death review.”
As the hearing adjourned, Davis mentioned to the judge about wanting to appoint his own counsel. Jones responded that “for today’s purposes, to get this case moving, the special public defender will be appointed to represent you.”
Davis, 60, was indicted by a Clark County grand jury on one count of open murder with use of a deadly weapon with a gang enhancement in September, nearly 30 years after Tupac’s death. He has been detained since being arrested near his Las Vegas-area home on Sept. 29.
Shakur died on Sept. 7, 1996, at the age of 25, six days after being shot while in a car near the Las Vegas Strip. A white Cadillac pulled up alongside the car and “immediately began shooting,” police said.
The shooting occurred hours after a brawl at the MGM Grand between members and affiliates of two rival Compton, California, gangs — Mob Piru Bloods and the South Side Compton Crips — police said.
Police said Davis — who has admitted publicly to being in the Cadillac at the time of the shooting — was the Crips’ “shot caller.” He is accused of orchestrating the “retaliatory shooting” that killed Shakur.
Though Davis may not have fired the gun on Shakur himself, his say-so would have authorized the trigger pull, authorities have said. They also accused Davis of providing the gun used in the shooting.
Davis is the only living suspect in the homicide, according to police.
The case remained cold for decades until “reinvigorated” in 2018 when new information came to light — “specifically, Duane Davis’ own admissions to his involvement in this homicide investigation that he provided to numerous different media outlets,” Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Lt. Jason Johansson told reporters following Davis’ arrest.
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