Duane "Keffe D" Davis, who is accused of orchestrating the...

Duane "Keffe D" Davis, who is accused of orchestrating the 1996 slaying of hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur, arrives in court at the Regional Justice Center in Las Vegas, Tuesday, June 25, 2024. Credit: AP/K.M. Cannon

LAS VEGAS — A Nevada judge said Tuesday she wasn't immediately convinced of the legality of an effort by a hip-hop music figure to underwrite a $750,000 bond to free a former Los Angeles-area gang leader from jail ahead of his murder trial in the 1996 killing of hip-hop music legend Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas.

Clark County District Court Judge Carli Kierny expressed doubts after hearing arguments about granting Duane “Keffe D” Davis’ release to house arrest with electronic monitoring, but said she would review financial records submitted by his benefactor — Cash Jones, a music record executive who has managed performers such as rappers The Game and Blueface. In recent years, he’s gotten into street fights and made controversial comments about the late Tupac Shakur and Nipsey Hussle.

The judge promised to post a brief description of her decision in the court record. She did not say when.

Davis' attorney, Carl Arnold, told reporters outside court that he hoped for a decision later Tuesday. Prosecutors Binu Palal and Marc DiGiacomo declined to comment.

Jones, who uses the moniker “Wack 100," offered sworn testimony by internet video link from an unspecified place in California. Under questioning by Arnold, Jones said he paid 15% of the bail amount, or $112,500, as “a gift” from his business accounts to secure Davis' release.

“I know him in passing,” Jones said of Davis, a 61-year-old self-described head of a Crips gang sect in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton who has been held at the Clark County Detention Center since his arrest last September. Davis and his attorneys have said he isn’t getting proper medical care in jail following treatment before his arrest for colon cancer.

“I know his son," Jones said of Davis. "We talked a few times. I know he's having an issue with his health.”

Duane "Keffe D" Davis, who is accused of orchestrating the...

Duane "Keffe D" Davis, who is accused of orchestrating the 1996 slaying of hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur, is led into the courtroom during a status hearing at the Regional Justice Center, April 23, 2024, in Las Vegas. A Nevada judge is being asked to decide Tuesday, June 25, if former Los Angeles-area gang leader Davis will be freed from jail to house arrest ahead of his murder trial in the 1996 killing of hip-hop music legend Tupac Shakur. Credit: AP/Bizuayehu Tesfaye

“He’s always been a monumental person in our community,” Jones added during questioning by Palal. “Especially the urban community.”

Asked by the prosecutor if he had any contract or financial agreement with Davis for a television or movie deal based on Davis' self-described gang life and role in the killing of Shakur, Jones twice said, “Not as of yet.”

Nevada has a law sometimes called a “slayer statute” that prohibits convicted killers from profiting from their crime. Jailhouse visits and telephone calls are also routinely recorded.

The prosecutor played clips from a VladTV social media interview in which Jones told his interviewer he would bail Davis out of jail “in return for an agreement to do a series on Mr. Davis' life." Palal asked Jones to explain.

Duane "Keffe D" Davis, who is accused of orchestrating the...

Duane "Keffe D" Davis, who is accused of orchestrating the 1996 slaying of hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur, is led into the courtroom during a status hearing at the Regional Justice Center, April 23, 2024, in Las Vegas. A Nevada judge is being asked to decide Tuesday, June 25, if former Los Angeles-area gang leader Davis will be freed from jail to house arrest ahead of his murder trial in the 1996 killing of hip-hop music legend Tupac Shakur. Credit: AP/Bizuayehu Tesfaye

“That's what I said to Vlad,” Jones responded, noting that he was paid for the interview to draw viewers. “There's nothing about Vlad, nothing about YouTube, that says you have to be truthful.”

Palal also played a recording of a jailhouse phone call in which Jones describes to Davis a plan to produce “30 to 40 episodes” of a television show based on his life story.

“We talking business. I'm telling you what my idea is," Jones says. “You gotta remember bro, this (expletive) can set you up for the rest of your life.”

Palal told the judge that Jones intended to profit from Davis' story.

“Mr. Davis is getting the benefits from retelling his story in the killing of Mr. Shakur. As a result, Mr. Jones, in order to benefit from that, is paying the bail bond company,” the prosecutor said. “Although it's convoluted, it's clear that a fraud is being perpetrated on this court. One way or another ... it is an illegal benefit, profiting from this crime."

The judge ended the 45-minute hearing saying she was “left with more questions than answers.” But she agreed to review Jones' financial records.

Davis has sought to be released since shortly after his arrest last September made him the only person ever charged with a crime in a killing that for 27 years has drawn intense interest and speculation.

Davis told Kierny in court in February that backers were “hesitant to come in here and help me out on the bail because of the media and the circus that’s going on.”

Prosecutors allege the gunfire that killed Shakur stemmed from competition between East Coast members of a Bloods gang sect and West Coast groups of a Crips sect, including Davis, for dominance in a musical genre known at the time as “gangsta rap.”

Davis has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. His trial is scheduled Nov. 4. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.

According to police, prosecutors and Davis’ own accounts, he is the only person still alive among four people who were in a white Cadillac from which shots were fired in September 1996, mortally wounding Shakur and grazing rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight at an intersection just off the Las Vegas Strip. Knight, now 59, is serving 28 years in a California prison for using a vehicle to kill a Los Angeles-area man in 2015.

Davis has publicly described himself as the orchestrator of the shooting, but not the gunman. A renewed push by Las Vegas police to solve the case led to a search warrant and raid last July at his home in Henderson.

Prosecutors say they have strong evidence to convict Davis of murder based his own accounts during multiple police and media interviews since 2008 — and in a 2019 memoir of his life leading a Compton street gang.

In his book, Davis wrote he was promised immunity to tell authorities in Los Angeles what he knew about the fatal shootings of Shakur and rival rapper Christopher Wallace six months later in Los Angeles. Wallace was known as The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls.

Arnold maintains that Davis told stories so he could make money and that police and prosecutors in Nevada lack key evidence including the gun, the Cadillac and proof that Davis was in Las Vegas at the time of the shooting.

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