Defendant in Tupac Shakur killing loses defense lawyer ahead of arraignment on murder charge

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The former Southern California street gang leader charged with killing Tupac Shakur in 1996 in Las Vegas has lost his bid to be represented at his arraignment by the lawyer who spoke publicly about his defense two weeks ago.

Attorney Ross Goodman told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Duane Keith “Keffe D” Davis could not meet terms of an agreement that a judge on Oct. 19 gave them two more weeks to reach. Goodman did not specify a reason for the impasse.

Davis is due for arraignment Thursday, and Clark County District Court Judge Tierra Jones could order a financial accounting of Davis' assets to determine if he can afford a lawyer or if she should declare him indigent and name an attorney to defend him at public expense.

Scott Coffee, a deputy Clark County public defender, said attorneys there were reviewing Davis' case to determine whether they can represent Davis or if they have a conflict such as having in the past represented other people involved in the case.

The judge also could name a defense attorney in private practice to represent Davis at taxpayer expense, or assign a special public defender from the county, an alternate roster of possible court-appointed attorneys.

“We're just not sure at this point how this will play out and who will end up representing him,” said Jordan Savage, assistant special public defender.

Edi Faal, Davis’ longtime personal lawyer in Los Angeles, said Wednesday he expected that a special public defender would be named to represent Davis. Faal told AP after Davis’ first court appearance on Oct. 4 that he was helping Davis find a defense attorney in Nevada, and he confirmed Goodman’s involvement two weeks ago.

Davis, 60, is originally from Compton, California. He was arrested Sept. 29 outside his home in suburban Las Vegas, the same day an indictment was filed accusing him of orchestrating the car-to-car shooting that killed Shakur and wounded rap music mogul Marion “Suge” Knight. Davis is expected to plead not guilty to a murder charge that could put him in prison for the rest of his life.

Shakur died at age 25. Knight was wounded but survived. Now 58, he’s serving a 28-year prison sentence for the death of a Compton businessman in January 2015. Knight has not responded to AP requests for comment about Davis arrest.

Goodman said Oct. 19 he saw “obvious defenses” in the murder case, including that police and prosecutors do not have the gun or car used in the shooting, and "there’s no witnesses from 27 years ago.”

Prosecutors allege Shakur’s killing in Las Vegas came out of competition between East Coast and West Coast groups over dominance in a musical genre then dubbed “gangsta rap.” Grand jurors were told the shooting followed a brawl in a Las Vegas Strip casino involving Shakur and Davis’ nephew, Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson.

Anderson denied involvement in Shakur’s death and died in a May 1998 shooting in Compton at age 23. The other two men in the car with Davis and Anderson also are now dead.

Davis in recent years has publicly described his role in Shakur’s death, including in interviews and a 2019 tell-all memoir that described his life as a leader of a Crips gang sect in Compton.

Prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo told the grand jury that Davis admitted in his book that he provided the gun, was in the car “and that he was the on-ground, on-site commander of the effort to kill Tupac Shakur and Suge Knight.”