UPDATED: 2:30 p.m. ET, July 6, 2022
A jury found Eric Holder Jr. guilty of first-degree murder on Wednesday in the murder of rapper Nipsey Hussle.
The verdict comes three years after the hip-hop star was shot and killed in front of his clothing store in Los Angeles, California. Holder faces a maximum of life in prison.
According to NBC News, jurors were handed the case last Thursday after closing arguments were delayed due to Holder being attacked by “multiple individuals” while awaiting transportation to the Los Angeles courthouse. Holder suffered injuries to the back of his head after he was assaulted with a razor.
Aspiring rapper Eric Ronald Holder Jr. was charged with murder on April 2, 2019, after he allegedly shot and killed Nipsey Hussle and injured two other men in front of Hussle’s popular clothing store in Los Angeles.
During the trial, the woman who unknowingly acted as the getaway driver for Holder testified in court that she had no idea what she was getting herself into.
Bryannita Nicholson, who was given immunity for her testimony, told the court on March 31, 2019, she drove Eric Holder to a South Los Angeles shopping center, where the two spotted Nipsey Hussle. She was excited to see Nipsey and mentioned to Holder she wanted to take a picture with the rapper.
I said, ‘Ooh, there goes Nipsey, he fine. I want to take a picture with him,” Nicholson testified.
She also told the court she didn’t know Nipsey and Holder had a prior relationship from growing up in the same neighborhood.
Nicholson said Holder asked her to stop at the Master Burger restaurant, which was in the same shopping center as Nipsey’s clothing store.
While Nicholson was looking for parking, Holder hopped out of the vehicle and approached Nipsey.
Nicholson testified that when she joined the conversation, Holder was talking to Nipsey with his voice raised, but not overly aggressive.
“Eric was asking Nipsey, ‘Did you tell somebody I snitched?’” Nicholson said.
But Nicholson said she was focused on getting a selfie from the rap star to post on her Facebook. After she took the picture, she left the two men and headed back to the car to post the photo.
When Holder came back to the car he told Nicholson to drive around the block. Once she complied, Holder pulled out a semi-automatic handgun and loaded the clip.
Nicholson then testified that she yelled at Holder to put the gun away and said he listened at first. He then told her to pull into an alley so he could eat. Holder took a few bites from his french fries, then told Nicholson not to leave. He’d be right back. She said she believed he was going into the Nipsey’s clothing store to buy a shirt.
Minutes later Nicholson was startled by gunshots and saw an older man running away. She thought about pulling off but began to worry about Holder’s safety. Nicholson to the court that Holder appeared to be “power-walking” when he returned to her vehicle.
I was like, ‘What happened?’” Nicholson testified. “He said, ”You talk too much I ought to slap you. And he was just like, ‘Drive! Drive!'” she said.
Nicholson then drove Holder to his Long Beach home after the shooting. Later that day she would learn that Nipsey Hussle had been shot and killed and that Holder was the suspect. She also admitted to picking him up again after learning of Nipsey’s death.
Deputy District Attorney John McKinney stressed to the jury that there was “no doubt” Eric Holder killed rapper Nipsey Hussle and he knew in advance that he would do so. In his opening statements, McKinney painted a picture of the incident for the jury, explaining that Holder pulled out, “not one but two guns and starts shooting” after Holder and Hussle had a conversation about allegations of snitching. According to the prosecutors, Hussle told Holder about word on the street that he had been “snitching,” but stressed there was no hostility on the part of Hussle. Holder then left the parking lot only to return shortly after to kill the famous rapper. Prosecutors also played surveillance video showing Holder shooting from both his left and right hands, calling his actions an “explosion of violence.”
Nipsey was “shot from literally the bottom of his feet to the top of his head,” said prosecutors. “He would have been a paraplegic if he survived because one bullet transected his spine.”
Holder’s defense attorney agreed with prosecutors that Holder killed Hussle, but said the crime wasn’t premeditated and occurred in the “heat of passion.”
According to defense attorneys, Holder was “so enraged” about Hussle accusing him of being a snitch, that he returned to the scene and opened fire “without thinking” and that he “acted without premeditation.”
Holder’s lawyers also said he was checked into a mental health clinic three days after the shooting.
The defense team said they were confident in their client being acquitted, although the odds do seem stacked against them.
The prosecution’s first witness, who was on the scene when the murder took place told jurors he didn’t sense any danger lurking and everyone was shaking hands minutes before the shooting. He also told jurors he plugged one of the bullet holes with his finger to try and save Nipsey’s life.
The murder of Nipsey Hussle sent shockwaves through the Hip Hop community.
Former President Barack Obama even wrote a letter that was read during the slain rapper’s funeral. “While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and see only gangs, bullets, and despair, Nipsey saw potential,” wrote Obama. “He saw hope. He saw a community that, even through its flaws, taught him to always keep going.”
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