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Tupac murder case is delayed again


There has been yet another delay in the murder case of rapper Tupac Shakur. Duane "Keefe D" Davis, the suspect charged with the murder, did not enter a plea in a Las Vegas court this morning because his legal representation is still being sorted out. This is the second time now that Davis' arraignment has been delayed. Joining me to discuss this 27-year-old case is NPR music editor Sheldon Pearce. Hey, Sheldon.

SHELDON PEARCE, BYLINE: Hey, Scott. How are you?

DETROW: I'm good. Remind us who Duane Davis is.

PEARCE: Davis is a Compton gang leader and a self-described five-star general from a group of Crips known to police as the Bird Street Crew (ph). He's been a person of interest in the Tupac case since the beginning. And informants were telling police he was one of the four men in the Cadillac from which the bullets were fired. He's since corroborated that story in interviews and in his own 2019 memoir. Just as a refresher, the murder happened in September 1996. The Death Row label boss Marion "Suge" Knight was at the wheel. Tupac was in the passenger seat. And both of them were shot at at a red light by passengers in that Cadillac. Nobody thinks that the shooter was Davis, but Davis is now being considered the ringleader who ordered the death that night.

DETROW: The question that I have had since this development first came out was that if Davis had been so public for so long about being in the shooter's car that night, why did it take so long to charge him with murder?

PEARCE: Well, it depends on who you ask. Outsiders have suggested that the cops haven't really been working as hard as they needed to to solve this case. And the cops themselves are pointing to the fact that eyewitnesses weren't willing to come forward at the time. Both were probably factors. A potential witness was killed in an unrelated shooting a few months after Tupac was killed. But Davis, who first acknowledged his involvement publicly in an LAPD investigation that happened a few years later, entered into what was called a proffer agreement that they said those conversations couldn't be used against him in further cases.

DETROW: So what changed then? Why is this in court?

PEARCE: Well, this case has sort of been brewing for the past few years, in part because Davis himself started admitting it openly in the public - in TV interviews and in interviews online. For a long time, the district attorney said they simply didn't have enough evidence to establish a chain of events. But now they believe that they have enough to prove Davis acquired a gun to get back at Tupac and Suge. And the police are seeing this as sort of their final attempt to make a case. And it really feels like it is their last shot. I mean, if they can't make this case at this point, I don't see another scenario in which it happens.

DETROW: So after this delay, what happens next?

PEARCE: Well, the delayed arraignment is now scheduled to happen in two weeks. A well-known Las Vegas criminal lawyer, Ross Goodman, says he's going to take Davis on as a client, whether Davis hires him or not. The judge has said that it's clear that he - this case is going forward on November 2. And so we should know then how Davis makes his plea. But, you know, for a long time, this case has been painted as a puzzle to be solved. It seems now that it was more an issue of substantiation. And perhaps, I mean, this time, maybe we'll get an opportunity to provide some closure to this case.

DETROW: All right. We will see. That's NPR's Sheldon Pearce. Thank you, Sheldon.

PEARCE: Thanks so much, Scott.

(SOUNDBITE OF 2PAC SONG, "KEEP YA HEAD UP") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Sheldon Pearce