Jail call recording shows risk to witnesses in Tupac Shakur killing case, Las Vegas prosecutors say

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LAS VEGAS — Prosecutors are telling a Nevada judge that witnesses may be at risk in the case of a former Los Angeles-area gang leader charged with orchestrating the killing of hip-hop music icon Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas more than 27 years ago.

A court filing submitted Thursday urges the judge to keep Duane “Keffe D” Davis behind bars until trial, alleging that a list of witnesses was given to Davis family members, and that Davis’ son told the defendant during a recorded jail telephone call that a “green light” order had been given.

“In (Davis’) world, a ‘green light’ is an authorization to kill,” prosecutors Marc DiGiacomo and Binu Palal said in the court filing.

“This caused enough concern that the federal government stepped in and provided resources to at least (one witness) so he could change his residence,” the prosecutors wrote, calling the Oct. 9 jail call evidence of “credible threats to witnesses (that) demonstrate both a consciousness of guilt and that defendant poses a danger to the community.”

There is no reference in the court filing to Davis instructing anyone to harm anyone or to anyone associated with the case being physically harmed. DiGiacomo and Palal were not immediately available Friday for comment.

One of Davis’ court-appointed attorneys, Robert Arroyo, said he and co-counsel Charles Cano were reviewing the prosecution allegations and intend to respond in court on Tuesday. A hearing is scheduled on Davis’ request to post $100,000 bail and remain on house arrest until his trial in June.

“However, after our initial review of the phone call in question, we fail to see when (witnesses) were mentioned,” Arroyo said, “let alone threatened.”

Arroyo and Cano argue in a bail request filed Dec. 19 that Davis, 60, poses no danger to the community, wouldn’t flee to avoid trial and is not getting proper medical attention in jail following a colon cancer diagnosis that they said is in remission.

Davis is originally from Compton, California. He was arrested Sept. 29 outside a suburban Henderson home where Las Vegas police served a search warrant July 17. He pleaded not guilty in November to a murder charge and is being held without bail at the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas, where detainee phone calls are routinely recorded. He could spend the rest of his life in prison if he is convicted.

In Thursday’s court filing, DiGiacomo and Palal told Clark County District Court Judge Carli Kierny that, by his own descriptions, Davis was “the shot-caller” in the fatal shooting and he should remain jailed.

The prosecutors cite what they call multiple “confessions” since 2008 — in police interviews, in Davis’ 2019 tell-all memoir and in the media — that he orchestrated the September 1996 drive-by shooting at a traffic light near the Las Vegas Strip that killed Shakur and wounded rap music mogul Marion “Suge” Knight.

Knight, now 58, is serving 28 years in a California prison for the death of a Compton businessman in 2015.

Davis is the only person still alive who was in the vehicle from which shots were fired. He asserts he was given immunity in a 2008 agreement with the FBI and Los Angeles police who were investigating both the killings of Shakur in Las Vegas and rival rapper Christopher Wallace in March 1997 in Los Angeles. Wallace was known as The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls.

Davis’ attorneys argue that his accounts were “done for entertainment purposes and to make money.”

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