July 24th, 2024

Nevada judge denies release of ex-gang leader ahead of trial in 1996 killing of Tupac Shakur

By Ken Ritter And Scott Sonner, The Associated Press on June 26, 2024.

Duane "Keffe D" Davis, who is accused of orchestrating the 1996 slaying of hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur, speaks in court at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, Tuesday, June 25, 2024. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, Pool)

LAS VEGAS (AP) – An ailing former Los Angeles-area gang leader has been denied release from a Las Vegas jail ahead of his trial in the 1996 killing of music legend Tupac Shakur, despite a bid by a hip-hop music figure to underwrite his $750,000 bond.

A Nevada judge rejected house arrest with electronic monitoring for Duane “Keffe D” Davis, 61, saying she wasn’t satisfied with assurances that Davis and his would-be benefactor – Cash “Wack 100″ Jones – weren’t planning to reap profits from the sale of Davis’ life story.

Clark County District Court Judge Carli Kierny said in a ruling issued Wednesday that Davis failed to prove the money for his bond “was paid by a legitimate source.”

Davis has sought to be released since shortly after his arrest last September made him the only person ever charged with a crime in the killing, which has drawn intense interest and speculation for 27 years.

Prosecutors allege the gunfire in Las Vegas that killed Shakur stemmed from competition between East Coast members of a Bloods gang sect and West Coast groups of a Crips sect, including Davis, for dominance in a musical genre known at the time as “gangsta rap.”

Davis has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. His trial is scheduled for Nov. 4. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

After a 45-minute hearing on Tuesday, Kierny said she was left with more questions than answers after Davis’ legal team tried to demonstrate the source of the funds. The judge heard contradictory statements from Jones and wasn’t convinced the payment he put up to the bond company “was not connected to Mr. Davis ultimately talking about Mr. Shakur’s murder.”

Jones, a music record executive who has managed hip-hop artists including Johnathan “Blueface” Porter and Jayceon “The Game” Taylor, offered sworn testimony Tuesday by video from an unspecified place in California.

Jones said he talked with Davis and knew he’s having a health issue. He also spoke of his own background coming from gang violence and his exit from that life. He called Davis “a monumental person in our community. Especially the urban community.”

On Tuesday, Davis told the judge he isn’t getting proper food and medical care in jail.

“I got cancer,” Davis said as he stood in shackles. “I’m in a life situation, and I would say anything to save my life.”

Prosecutors have argued that Davis intends to benefit from retelling his story about the killing of Shakur and played a recording of a jailhouse phone call in which Jones describes to Davis a plan to produce “30 to 40 episodes” of a show based on his life story.

“Although it’s convoluted, … it is an illegal benefit, profiting from this crime,” prosecutor Binu Palal told the judge.

Under questioning, Jones testified that he did not yet have a contract or any agreement with Davis for a television or movie deal.

____

Sonner reported from Reno, Nevada. Associated Press journalists Rio Yamat and Ty O’Neil in Las Vegas and Jonathan Landrum in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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