Nipsey Hussle Murder Trial: Suspect Eric Holder Jr. Found Guilty of First-Degree Murder in Rapper's Slaying
By Miguel A. Melendez
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Eric Holder Jr., the man accused of fatally shooting Nipsey Hussle in March 2019, has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the trial that finally started and ended after a years-long delay due to the pandemic.
The verdict was announced Wednesday in a Los Angeles courtroom. Holder had initially pleaded not guilty and had been held behind bars in lieu of $6.5 million bail. The jury deliberated for less than an hour on the second day of deliberations. The trial lasted three weeks.
Holder had also been charged with two counts of attempted murder charges because two innocent bystanders were also wounded as a result of the shooting, but Holder instead was found guilty of two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter. He was also found guilty of possession of a firearm by a felon.
L.A. Deputy District Attorney John McKinney said during his opening statement that the L.A. rapper's shooting was premeditated and deliberate. McKinney argued that there was "no doubt" Holder had thought out his actions and shot Hussle -- whose real name was Ermias Asghedom -- with the intention of killing him following a heated argument outside the rapper's L.A. clothing store. Hussle was shot in the head and torso, according to the L.A. County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner's Office. Two other men were also wounded, but survived the shooting.
Holder's attorney, Aaron Jansen, a public defender who took over the case after former O.J. Simpson prosecutor Chris Darden withdrew citing death threats, didn't deny at trial that his client pulled the trigger, but he argued his client should have instead been charged with voluntary manslaughter because "this is a case about the heat of the passion."
According to Jansen, Hussle had accused Holder of "snitching" during their heated argument, and the remark made Holder "so enflamed and enraged" that he acted without thinking and without having time to "cool off."
The notion of "snitching" -- or cooperating with law enforcement and considered a cardinal sin in gang culture -- was also seemingly on display during the course of the trial, when one of the shooting victims took the witness stand but reportedly declined to identify Holder as the shooter for fear of retribution. After the shooting victim was asked if Holder pulled the trigger, the shooting victim said, "I don't know nothing, don't see nothing." And when the prosecutor asked him, "You don't want to testify about what happened," the victim replied, "That's right."
Jansen had also argued Holder shouldn't have been charged with attempted murder because he didn't intend to harm the two bystanders who were wounded as a result of the shooting.
Hussle was shot 10 times in the incident, with one round severing his spinal cord and three rounds puncturing his lungs. McKinney stated that "even if he survived, Nipsey would have been paraplegic."
Holder faces life in prison. His sentencing hearing is set for a later date.