Eric Holder Jr. was convicted of first degree murder

Nipsey Hussle - Credit: AP

Nipsey Hussle – Credit: AP

Three years after Grammy-winning rapper, visionary entrepreneur and hometown hero Nipsey Hussle was gunned down in a stunningly public killing outside his South Los Angeles clothing store, his confessed killer was convicted of first-degree murder on Wednesday.

A jury of nine women and three men ruled that Eric Ronald Holder Jr. acted with forethought when he opened fire on the beloved musician with a black semiautomatic in one hand and a silver revolver in the other during an afternoon ambush in a strip mall parking lot . March 31, 2019.

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While some 20,000 fans and the music industry’s elite packed the Staples Center for Hussle’s public memorial service — and thousands more packed his hearse during the 25-mile procession through the streets of South Los Angeles — Holder was alone in the courtroom. when he learned that squadron, in addition to his public defense team.

In his closing remarks last week, Deputy District Attorney John McKinney highlighted the devastating loss at the heart of the trial, which Hustle’s immediate family chose not to attend. The prosecutor called Hussle a “favorite son” of South Los Angeles who overcame “pockets of concentrated poverty” and the dangers of the gang life that dominates his Hyde Park neighborhood to become an accomplished recording artist, rising businessman and renowned philanthropist. .

“The streets he used to run on as a youth became the life material he used to become the voice of those same streets. While some succeed, make money, leave their neighborhood, change address, this man was different. He wanted to change the neighborhood. Invest in the neighborhood. He kept the same friends and the neighborhood loved him. They called him the Neighborhood Nip,” McKinney said.

“He was a father, he was a son, he was a brother, he was human,” prosecutors said, showing jurors a photo of Hussle bending down to take a picture with a small child moments before his death.

Once the trial began with opening statements on June 15, Holder admitted through his public defender, Aaron Jansen, that he fired the 10 or 11 bullets that struck the rapper from the top of his head to his feet, ripping out his liver. and lungs and severing his spine. But Holder, 32, was adamant the fatal attack only amounted to voluntary manslaughter and not premeditated murder. Janssen said his client was acting in the “heat of passion” when he started firing his guns “just nine minutes” after an initial conversation in the parking lot with Hussle, in which Keys 2 The City The rapper mentioned that there was a rumor going around that there was “red tape” at Holder. In gang parlance, “charting” means documentation showing someone is a police informant. Janen said his client took the allegation as a “straightjacket” that threatened his life.

Holder, like Hussle, joined the Rollin’60s Neighborhood Crips as a teenager, but by 2019, he had become a father, moved to Long Beach, started working at a restaurant and put his gang involvement “in the rearview mirror,” Jansen said. . When Holder happened upon Hussle on the day of the shooting, it was a chance encounter, the attorney said. Riding shotgun in a female friend’s Chevy Cruze, Holder visited the strip mall because he had a “craving for the famous chili fries” at the Master Burger restaurant a few doors down from the Hussle store, not because he harbored any animosity, Jansen said.

“Think about Eric’s state of mind at this point. “I just came to say hello, I haven’t been in a while. Just waiting for my order to be ready. I’m not into that lifestyle anymore. And the famous – the great – Nipsey Hussle says they’ve got papers on me. What is the angle of this formula? Why does he do it? Why is he doing it in this public way?”

“This is a challenge that causes rage and strong emotions, swirling around the head. Furious that he would do it in public, in the heart of Rollin’ 60 territory, at a band he owns, when Eric just came over there to eat,” Jansen said. “Nipsey Hussle carries a lot of weight,” he continued. “What if he calls you a chump in a song and calls you names?”

Jansen called the case “overwhelmed from the start”, saying his client, who was beaten and slashed with razors by fellow inmates amid the high-profile trial, was willing to “take responsibility for his actions” and admit the voluntary manslaughter early in the case. McKinney, meanwhile, scoffed at the suggestion that Hussle caused his own assassination by citing “red tape.” He urged jurors to reach a verdict of first-degree murder.

“It’s not like he put an ad in the paper. Or, “Imagine he can write a song and put a song on it.” He didn’t do that. The (defense) attorney is trying to make it something that it never was,” McKinney argued Thursday. He said people who watched the “taped” conversation — including Hustle’s close friend Herman “Cowboy” Douglas and Holder’s friend-turned-getaway-driver Briannita Nicholson — described the parking lot exchange as brief and civil, nothing which did not create a specter of imminent danger.

“It was not hostile. It didn’t look like there was going to be a fight. Nobody was upset,” McKinney said in closing.

According to McKinney, Holder “had plenty of time” to think and “cool down.” He said that in the 10 minutes between the initial conversation in the parking lot and the shooting, Holder drove around the block in Nicholson’s car one and a half times, loaded bullets into the magazine of his semiautomatic, ate chili fries, put on a shirt, ordered Nicholson to shoot him. waiting in an alley, walked back into the parking lot holding two loaded guns and launched his surprise attack. “There is a lot of evidence of premeditation and deliberation,” McKinney argued. And in any case, “a cold, calculated decision to kill can be reached quickly,” he said.

“I submit to you that the motive for Nipsey Hussle’s murder had little or nothing to do with the conversation they had. there’s already a pre-existing jealousy,” McKinney told the jury Thursday. “Here you have Nipsey Hussle, who is a successful artist from the same neighborhood, [and] Mr. Holder, who is a failed rap artist.”

Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, was a mixtape veteran on a clear upward trajectory when his life was cut short at age 33. A month before he died, he attended the 2019 Grammys with his daughter Emani and girlfriend Lauren London, in support of his debut studio album, Victory Round, which was nominated for Best Rap Album. A year later, he was awarded two posthumous Grammys for his performances on “Racks in the Middle” and the uplifting track “Higher,” a collaboration with DJ Khaled and John Legend.

London, who welcomed a son with Hustle, told mourners at the rapper’s memorial at the Staples Center that she had “never felt this kind of pain before.” He then read a heartfelt message he had sent Hussle two months earlier. “I want you to know that I feel real joy in my heart when I’m around you,” the message read. “I feel safe around you… Protected. Like a shield over me when you’re near me.”

Beyond his music and personal businesses, Hussle was also a prominent investor in Vector 90, a technology incubator and co-working space in the Crenshaw area, and a supporter of the Destination Crenshaw project, an outdoor shopping corridor filled with public art installations, a pocket of parks and newly planted trees running 1.3 miles along Crenshaw Boulevard in South Los Angeles.

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