LOS ANGELES — A jury convicted a former acquaintance of Nipsey Hussle in the rapper’s murder, three years after Hussle was gunned down outside his clothing store in Los Angeles, NBC Los Angeles reports.
Eric R. Holder Jr. was found guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of the beloved rapper and community leader on Wednesday.
Hussle, a hip-hop artist and father of two who was born Ermias Asghedom, was shot and killed at age 33 on March 31, 2019, in the parking lot outside his store, The Marathon.
Holder had a conversation with Hussle and two others at The Marathon in South Los Angeles, but Holder had been angered over accusations he was a snitch, Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney John McKinney said during trial.
Holder returned to the store later that day with a gun, McKinney said, where multiple witnesses said they saw him walk up to Hussle and open fire at the rapper.
Holder and Hussle grew up together and were both members of the Rollin 60s Neighborhood Crips gang, according to McKinney.
Holder was charged with one count of first degree-murder, along with two counts of attempted first-degree murder for two others who were injured in the shooting. The jury found him guilty of lesser charges on the surviving victims, landing instead on two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter.
He faces a maximum of life in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced in September.
Videos and photos displayed during trial showed Holder fleeing the scene while holding a semiautomatic revolver. Hussle was shot at least 10 times.
McKinney accused Holder of premeditated murder during the opening statements, an allegation that Holder’s attorney, Aaron Jansen, rebutted.
Jansen told the jury that Holder had attacked Hussle in a fit of “heated passion,” reacting to the conversation before having time to cool off. He alleged that the charges against Holder were excessive because there was no premeditated plan to kill Hussle.
Bryannita Nicholson, who described herself as being in a casual relationship with Holder at the time, testified that she drove him to the store prior to the shooting, according to NBC Los Angeles. Accorder to her, the pair were eating in her car when Holder told Nicholson he’d be right back and she should stay there.
She heard gunshots shortly after and Holder rushed back to the car, instructing her to drive, Nicholson said.
Nicholson said she was unaware of his connection to Hussle before he asked her to drive to the strip mall.
Jansen pressed Nicholson on inaccuracies in her testimony, using video to dispute her sequence of events and specific details, such as the color of a car that Holder put down a bag of fries on.
Nicholson blamed the time between Hussle’s death and trial on the errors, saying she was not lying but that she made genuine mistakes.
Closing arguments were delayed last week after Holder was attacked by “multiple individuals” while he awaited transportation to the Los Angeles courthouse. The back of Holder’s head was injured after he was assaulted with a razor.
The case was turned over to the jury last Thursday, just before court took an extended break for the Fourth of July holiday.
Hussle was a revered member of the South Los Angeles community. His death sparked deep sorrow and outrage, prompting vigils and a public funeral at the Staples Center, where thousands gathered outside to pay tribute.
Hussle’s legacy includes his dedication to his old neighborhood, where he focused on community development and owned several businesses.
A former member gang member, Hussle was an advocate against gun violence and had been scheduled to meet with Los Angeles law enforcement to discuss programs to help stop gang violence before his death.
His efforts were memorialized in tributes from fans, music industry peers, and politicians following his death. Former President Barack Obama said his daughters made him aware of Hussle, and he discovered Hussle’s community work after his death.
“While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and see only gangs, bullets and despair, Nipsey saw potential. He saw hope,” Obama said in a letter that was read at Hussle’s funeral.
Blankstein reported from Los Angeles and Madani reported from New York.
The Associated Press contributed.