LOS ANGELES — A jury convicted a former acquaintance of Nipsey Hussle in the rapper’s murder Wednesday, three years after Hussle was gunned down outside his clothing store in Los Angeles, NBC Los Angeles reported.
Eric R. Holder Jr. was found guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of Hussle, a beloved rapper and community leader.
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 County Deputy District Attorney John McKinney said during the trial.
Holder returned to the store with a gun later that day, McKinney said. Multiple witnesses said they saw him walk up to Hussle and open fire.
Holder and Hussle, who grew up together, were members of the Rollin 60s Neighborhood Crips gang, McKinney said.
Holder was charged with one count of first-degree murder, along with two counts of attempted first-degree murder for two other people who were injured in the shooting. The jury found him guilty of lesser charges in connection with the surviving victims, landing instead on two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter.
He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced in September.
Videos and photos displayed at the trial showed Holder fleeing while holding a semiautomatic revolver. Hussle was shot at least 10 times.
McKinney accused Holder of premeditated murder in 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 he had time to cool off. He alleged that the charges 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 before the shooting, NBC Los Angeles reported. She said the pair were eating in her car when Holder told her that he would be right back and that she should stay there.
She heard gunshots shortly afterward, and Holder rushed back to the car, instructing her to drive, Nicholson said.
Nicholson said she was unaware of Holder’s connection to Hussle before he asked her to drive to the strip mall.
Jansen pressed Nicholson about 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 errors on the amount of time that had passed between Hussle's death and the trial, saying that she wasn’t lying and that she had made genuine mistakes.
Closing arguments were delayed last week after Holder was attacked by "multiple individuals" while he awaited transportation to the courthouse in Los Angeles. Holder was injured in the back of his head when he was assaulted with a razor.
The case was turned over to the jury Thursday, just before the 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 officials to discuss programs to help stop gang violence.
His efforts were memorialized in tributes from fans, music industry peers and politicians. Former President Barack Obama said that his daughters made him aware of Hussle, whose community work he discovered 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.