In a US court on Thursday, a former gang member, who for years had proudly claimed responsibility for the death of rap icon, Tupac Shakur twenty-five years ago, entered a plea of not guilty.
Duane “Keefe D” Davis, 60, was charged in September for the killing, even though he was not the one brandishing the weapon during the gang conflict in Las Vegas.
A former member of Compton’s South Side Crips gang, the 60-year-old Davis has long confessed to his role in the killing, claiming to have been the “on-site commander” in the plot to murder Shakur and Death Row Records boss Marion “Suge” Knight as payback for an assault on his nephew.
During a court hearing in Las Vegas, he refuted the accusation of murder with a deadly weapon with the intention to encourage, advance, or aid a criminal gang.
“Not guilty,” Davis told District Judge Tierra Jones when she asked for his plea.
Under the jurisdiction of Nevada law, those who aid or abet a murder can be prosecuted for the crime, similar to how a getaway driver can be charged with bank robbery without physically participating in the robbery.
Prosecutors declared on Thursday that they would not push for the death penalty should Davis be found guilty.
‘We talked about it, and I determined that it’s not a case in which we should seek the death penalty,’ the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson as saying after the hearing.
Remembered for his chart-topping tracks like “California Love,” “Changes,” and “Dear Mama,” Shakur, a major name in hip-hop, was fatally shot on September 7, 1996, at the age of 25.
He was under contract with Death Row Records, a label linked at the time with Los Angeles street gang Mob Piru, which had a longstanding feud with the South Side Compton Crips.
This trend began to shift when Davis, supposedly the last remaining person from the car that night, published an autobiography and talked about the crime on a television program.
Following Davis’s arrest, prosecutors acknowledged that the events of the killing night had been well understood for many years, but they had lacked enough admissible evidence to advance the case.
Wolfson mentioned that Davis’s past statements would be factored into the trial.He acknowledged that the case was drawing global focus, but it would not impact the handling of it.
‘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.’