Jury finds man guilty of murdering rapper Nipsey Hussle

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jurors on Wednesday found a 32-year-old man guilty of first-degree murder in the 2019 shooting of rapper Nipsey Hussle.

A Los Angeles County jury also found Eric R. Holder Jr. guilty of two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter for shooting other men at the scene of the shooting. Prosecutors have sought two counts of attempted murder. Holder was also convicted of two counts of assaulting the same person with a firearm.

Holder, wearing a blue suit and face shield, stood in the small courtroom next to his lawyer as the verdict was read. He had no apparent reaction.

The jury of nine women and three men deliberated for about six hours over two days before reaching a verdict. Much of their deliberations took place on Friday, and they reached a swift and unanimous decision on Wednesday to briefly reconvene after a four-day break.

Typos in the verdict forced jurors to briefly return to the deliberation room to make corrections and sign while lawyers, reporters and others waited in court. There were no apparent Hussle family members or friends in the room when the verdict was read.

Holder could face a life sentence when he is sentenced on September 15.

The verdict ends a legal saga that lasted more than three years and a trial that was often delayed because of the pandemic.

Holder and Hussle had known each other for years — they grew 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 witnesses to surveillance cameras at local businesses capturing his arrival, shooting and departure.

His lawyers didn’t even deny he was the shooter, but urged jurors to find him guilty of a lesser charge of intentional manslaughter.

After the shooting, the two talked about rumors that Holder had been serving as an informant for the authorities. Holder’s attorney, Aaron Jansen, said being publicly accused of being a “whistleblower” by someone as prominent as Hussle gave Holder a “passion” to acquit him of first-degree murder.

“It was a provocation that stirred anger and strong emotions,” Jensen told jurors on Thursday.

Deputy District Attorney John McKinney argued during the trial that Holder and everyone else in Husserl’s pre-death conversation were so peaceful that the “whistleblower” conversation could not have been the primary motive, and that Holder’s previous There must be some jealousy or hatred going on.

McKinney told jurors that the nine minutes between the conversation and the shooting allowed enough time for the killing to be premeditated, a requirement for first-degree murder.

The jury apparently agreed.

Hussle, whose legal name was 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 shot.

He was a much-loved figure in Los Angeles, especially in the South Los Angeles area where he grew up, and stayed after his fame, buying properties and starting businesses.

“He wants to change the community,” McKinney said in closing the debate. “He kept the same friends. The neighbors loved him. They called him the Neighborhood Nip.”

Hussle mourned at the memorial at the arena, then known as the Staples Center, and celebrated at a Grammy performance that included DJ Khaled and John Legend.


Follow AP entertainment writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton

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