Tupac murder suspect asks for release from jail to house arrest, claims past admissions of role in killing were 'entertainment'

Duane Davis is only person ever charged in connection with rapper's murder.

December 19, 2023, 7:59 PM

The only person ever charged in connection with the murder of Tupac Shakur is asking to be released from jail while he awaits trial, according to a new court filing.

In a 33-page motion filed last week, lawyers for Duane "Keefe D" Davis argue the evidence used to charge the one-time gang member is little more than an "astounding amount of hearsay and speculative testimony" presented to the grand jury that indicted Davis in late September.

Tupac Shakur at the 10th Annual Soul Train Music Awards in 1996.
Steve Granitz Archive/WireImage via Getty Images, FILE

Shakur was killed in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting on Sept. 7, 1996 -- a crime that had become one of the most infamous unsolved murders in modern American history.

Davis' own words were crucial in the case against him. In his memoir and in interviews over the years, Davis has admitted to playing a key part in the killing, and what authorities have described as his "shot caller" role in orchestrating Tupac's death.

His lawyers now say prosecutors "did not introduce any independent evidence" connecting Davis to the crime, but instead used testimony from witnesses "with questionable credibility" and "relied on excerpts" from Davis' book, which they say could have been penned by his co-author.

Interviews Davis himself gave detailing his role in the shooting were "never verified" for their "truthfulness," his lawyers said, adding that Davis' media admissions were "done for entertainment purposes" and for financial gain.

"It cannot be said that the proof is evident and the presumption great that Duane is guilty of first-degree murder for the death of Shakur," his lawyers wrote. They added that, though Shakur's death in September 1996 is an "uncontested" fact, Davis' "involvement in the shooting and the motivation for the shooting is less clear."

PHOTO: Duane "Keffe D" Davis arrives in Clark County District Court, Nov. 7, 2023, in Las Vegas.
Duane "Keffe D" Davis arrives in Clark County District Court, Nov. 7, 2023, in Las Vegas. The former Los Angeles-area gang leader accused of murder in the killing of hip-hop music icon Tupac Shakur in 1996 in Las Vegas is seeking to be released to house arrest ahead of his murder trial in June 2024
Steve Marcus/AP, FILE

They said "parts" of Davis' book "are fiction and dramatized to make the book more marketable," and that even if the allegations are "assumed to be true," there is "no evidence that [Davis] directed the shooting" and "no evidence or allegations that [he] was the shooter."

ABC News has reached out to the Clark County District Attorney's office for comment.

Davis has been held without bail in the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas since his arrest on Sept. 29.

His lawyers said Davis should be allowed to await trial while on house arrest -- or at least for "reasonable bail" no more than $100,000. He is "not a threat to the community" nor a flight risk, his lawyers said, and suggest if the judge is concerned about Davis showing back up for his hearings, that he could wear electronic monitoring. His trial date is set for June 3, 2024. He has pleaded not guilty.

Davis' lawyers said that their client's health has suffered while in jail -- and that "going on the run would be a death sentence for him." His cancer is in remission but "is not getting his bimonthly oncologist check-ups," they said, and "his heart health has declined." Unable to "do the things necessary to maintain proper health," the lawyers said, their client has to take more medications, and that his "diet in the jail is terrible" with "heavily processed meals full of sodium that barely pass as food."

The request for Davis' release is set to be argued in court on Jan. 2, 2024, according to court records.