LOS ANGELES – Jurors on Wednesday found a 32-year-old man guilty of first degree murder for the fatal 2019 shooting of rapper Nipsey Hussle.
The Los Angeles County jury found Eric R. Holder Jr. also guilty of two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter rather than two attempted murders, as prosecutors had searched for two other men who had been hit by gunfire at the scene.
Holder, dressed in a blue suit and face mask, stood in the small courtroom next to his lawyer as the verdict was read. He had no visible reaction.
The jurors deliberated for about six hours over two days before reaching their verdict.
The verdict ends a legal saga that has lasted more than three years and a trial that has often been postponed due to the pandemic.
Holder and Hussle had known each other for years — growing up as members of the same South Los Angeles street gang — when a chance encounter outside the rapper’s Los Angeles clothing store led to the shooting and his death.
The evidence against Holder was overwhelming, from eyewitnesses to surveillance cameras from local businesses that recorded his arrival, the shooting and his departure.
His attorney did not even deny that he was the shooter, but urged the jurors to find him guilty on the lighter charge of voluntary manslaughter.
The shooting followed a conversation the two men had about rumors that Holder was acting as an informant for authorities. Holder’s attorney Aaron Jansen said being publicly accused of being a “snitch” by a prominent person like Hussle sparked a “heat of passion” in Holder, making him not guilty of first degree murder.
“This is a provocation that evokes anger and powerful emotions,” Jansen told the jury on Thursday.
Deputy District Attorney John McKinney argued at trial that Holder and everyone else in the conversation leading up to Hussle’s death were so calm that the “snitch” conversation couldn’t have been the primary motive, and that Holder must have expressed any previous envy or hatred. have had to busy.
McKinney told the jurors that the nine minutes between the conversation and the shooting gave more than enough time to commit the first-degree murder, a requirement for first-degree murder.
The jury apparently agreed.
Hussle, whose official name is Ermias Asghedom, died at the age of 33. He had just released his major label debut album, which earned him his first Grammy nomination, when he was gunned down.
He was a much-loved figure in Los Angeles, especially in South LA, where he grew up and stayed after gaining fame, buying real estate and opening businesses.
“He wanted to change the neighborhood,” McKinney said in his closing argument. “He kept the same friends. And the neighborhood loved him. They called him Neighborhood Nip.”
Hussle was mourned at a memorial in the arena then known as Staples Center, and celebrated during a performance at the Grammy Awards with DJ Khaled and John Legend.
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