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Tupac Shakur Trial: 1994-95 - Judge Imposes Prison Sentence

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1989 to 1994Tupac Shakur Trial: 1994-95 - Rap Star Tried On Sex Charges, Shakur Shot During Trial, Judge Imposes Prison Sentence

Judge Imposes Prison Sentence

The sentencing took place on February 8, 1995, and it was no less dramatic than the trial. The proceedings began with the victim explaining how the crime had affected her physically, emotionally, and psychologically.

"He took advantage of his stardom to abuse me and betray my trust," she declared. Since the attack, she said, she had been turned into the villain while Shakur "has been glorified by his peers and fans."

Shakur stared intently at his accuser while she spoke. When she finished, he stood and, with tears in his eyes, apologized, but it wasn't clear for what. "I'm not apologizing for a crime," he declared. "I hope in time you'll come forth and tell the truth—I am innocent."

Addressing Judge Fitzgerald before sentencing, Shakur virtually accused him and the court system of racism. "You never looked into my eyes. You never used the wisdom of Solomon. I always felt you had something against me."

Then, in an about-face, he addressed the youth of America. "I got so involved in my career that I didn't see this coming. I have no shame, I don't feel shame." This statement received a positive response from the many fans in attendance. At one point, a sheriff had to order a young woman back to her seat after she leaned over the railing and kissed the rap star on the cheek.

Justice Fitzgerald then addressed Shakur, "This was an act of brutal violence against a helpless woman." And with that he sentenced Shakur to 18 months to four and one-half years in prison. Noting that Fuller had no criminal record and that Shakur had been the instigator of the attack, Fitzgerald sentenced Fuller to four months in jail and five years probation.

Shakur served nearly eight months in prison and was released in October 1995. His trial and conviction was not a liability for Shakur's career, however. Soon after his release, Shakur was given acting roles in two films, Gridlock'd and Gang Related—both of which would be released after his death. The first album released after his prison term, All Eyez on Me, debuted at number 1 on the Billboard album charts, and went on to sell over five million copies.

Shakur's musical and acting careers appeared to be on the rise. Then, on September 7, 1996, he was shot in Las Vegas, Nevada, shortly after leaving a Mike Tyson fight. He would later die of his wounds on September 13. Although the shooting took place on the very public Las Vegas main strip, no one has ever been arrested for his murder.

Penelope Petzold and

Ron Formica

Suggestions for Further Reading

Alexander, Frank, and Heide Sigmund Cuda. GotYour Back: My Life in Tupac's Last Year. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.

Scott, Cathy. The Killing of Tupac Shakur. Las Vegas: Huntington Press, 1997.

White, Armond. Rebel for the Hell of It: The Life of Tupac Shakur. New York: Thunder's Mouth Press, 1997.

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