According to multiple news reports, Duane Davis, nicknamed Keffe D, was arrested and charged with the 1996 murder of rapper Tupac Shakur. Keffe D is believed to be the last living conspirator involved in the slain rapper’s drive-by shooting.
Background Information on the Tupac Murder
For review, Tupac was at a Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas, NV on the night of his killing. He was involved in a physical altercation with a man named Orlando Anderson. After the fight, he was riding in a BMW driven by Death Row Records owner Suge Knight in Las Vegas when he was shot in a drive-by shooting coming from a white Cadillac that pulled up to the BMW at a red light. The 25-year-old rapper died six days later. The killing played an integral part in the infamous East Coast/West Coast rap beef.
Keffe D was in the other car where the shooter was located. Today, police believe Davis orchestrated the shooting by obtaining the firearm and calling for the shooting. The information available is unclear whether Keffe D was the trigger man, but the evidence suggests he was not. Keffe D is Orlando Anderson’s uncle, who he claimed was in the backseat during the drive-by, where the shots were believed to have come from. Anderson had previously denied any involvement in the murder. He died in 1998.
In recent years, there has not been much new evidence except that Davis has written a memoir, appeared on BET, and appeared in a Netflix documentary on Shakur. The combination of his appearances on these broadcasts suggests he created his own indictment. Also, everyone else in the alleged shooter’s car is dead.
The prosecution says Keffe D ordered the rapper’s killing and describes him as the group’s ringleader. A grand jury has indicted Keffe D for murder with a deadly weapon and voted to add an enhancement to the murder charge for gang activity, which could add up to 20 years to his sentence if convicted.
A few questions come up.
Statute of Limitation
First, is there a statute of limitation? The case happened in 1996, so can they still prosecute him for this case? Generally, there is no statute of limitation for murder, so this is not a real issue.
The second issue is, if Davis is not the shooter, how can he be prosecuted? This is because of conspiracy laws.
Conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime. And, the parties commit an overt act in furtherance of the criminal enterprise. Thinking up a plan to commit a crime is not enough. The parties must actually do something to take a substantial step to complete the crime.
Here, if Davis got the gun and ordered the killer to pull the trigger, he is guilty of conspiracy. It’s a clear agreement to commit an illegal act, with an intent to achieve the killing, and the overt act is getting the gun and ordering the killing. How can law enforcement make out conspiracy if everyone else is dead? With Davis’s own statements in his memoir and appearing on BET and Netflix. This brings up another issue, corpus delecti.
When a statement alone is the only evidence against a defendant, the attorney should object under the corpus delecti rule.
Corpus delecti is actually translated in English as “body of the crime.” It means that the government must first establish a crime occurred related to conduct by the accused, exclusive of the accused person’s own statement. The best example is someone is shot in the foot, and the victim makes a statement to police at the hospital that they accidentally shot themselves with their own gun. That person did not have a proper license to carry, so if they possessed a gun, it was a crime, but the officers never recovered the gun. Therefore, without the defendant’s own statement, the police cannot establish a crime, so the criminal defense lawyer should object to the statement coming in because the government has not established a corpus delecti in the case.
Also, in this case, Davis made his statement as part of a proffer agreement. Normally, in a proffer agreement, the statement would not come into evidence unless the defendant got on the witness stand and said something violating the proffer agreement or in the proffer agreement itself.
In this case, law enforcement has not revealed if they have any other corroborative evidence against Keffe D in the conspiracy. Note, the arrest in this case was by indictment, not by arrest with a preliminary hearing, so Davis’s defense attorney has not yet had the opportunity to make a corpus delecti objection and argument to a judge.
If everyone else is dead, and there is no other evidence against Davis in Shakur’s killing except his own statements, prosecutors will have a hard time convicting, but if his statements come into evidence in full, Davis might feel some California Love.