The murder trial for the man who gunned down rapper Nipsey Hussle in cold blood has begun. The jury heard opening statements from the Los Angeles district attorney’s office that said Nipsey's fatal shooting was premeditated by Eric Holder. The jury also saw new video of Nipsy’s agonizing last moments. Details inside…
The L.A. County prosecutors are laying out their case against the man charged in the killing of Grammy Award winning rapper Nipsey Hussle. During opening statements, they told the jury the shooting was premeditated, but the defense attorney tells a different story.
Eric Ronald Holder Jr., 32, has been charged for Nipsey’s murder after shooting him at least 10 times in the parking lot outside of his clothing store on Crenshaw and Slauson on March 31, 2019. He was 33. Two other men were also shot.
Eric Holder was indicted on one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. If convicted as charged, he faces up to life in prison. He has pleaded not guilty.
The murder trial began Wednesday (June 15th) with the jury hearing opening statements from the prosecution where the Grammy Award winning rapper was described as a father, a son, and an anti-violence advocate in his Los Angeles community. Deputy District Attorney John McKinney told the jury there’s "no doubt" Eric Holder knew in advance that he would kill Nipsey following a conversation they had about “snitching.”
The AP reports:
The prosecutor described the sequence of events, including a conversation about "snitching," before Hussle's shooting death in the South Los Angeles neighborhood where both men grew up and the rapper was helping revitalize. Two others were wounded in the shooting. "He clearly thought about what he was going to do before he did it," McKinney told jurors about Holder's intentions.
Nipsey Hussle (real name Ermias Ashgedom) and Eric Holder grew up together in the same neighborhood and were both members of the same gang, the Rollin’ 60s. However, their lives traveled different paths as they grew older.
"The defendant in this case was also an aspiring rapper – not nearly as successful, not nearly as respected and the two didn’t really have a lot in common,” McKinney told the jury. “They were two men whose arcs in life were bending in two different directions. The one thing they did have in common was their roots.”
McKinney showed jurors a video of the aftermath of the fatal shooting with several people trying to resuscitate Nipsey. The incident was described as “an explosion of violence.”
In the new video, the Victory Lap rapper is lying on the ground, receiving chest compressions as a panicked voice counted each one out, “1-2-3-4-5-6-7.”
The prosecutor displayed several photos and another video that revealed different angles of Eric shooting Nipsey and fleeing the scene, wearing a red shirt and bandana while carrying a semiautomatic gun and a revolver.
Eric watched quietly as the opening statements were made. He doesn’t deny he shot the celebrated rapper, but he claims it wasn’t premeditated.
“This is a case about the heat of passion,” public defender AaronJansentold jurors in a Los Angeles courtroom. “On March 31, 2019, Eric Ronald Holder Jr. shot and killed Nipsey Hussle on Slauson and Crenshaw, in front of a clothing store, Marathon clothing.” He claimed Hussle had accused his client of “snitching,” and Holder became “so enflamed and enraged,” he opened fire “a mere nine minutes later,” before he had time to “cool off.”
“The heat of passion in this case relates to snitching,” Jansen continued. “In the gang world, in the criminal world, there are images from movies, Scarface, where rats, or snitches, have gotten their just desserts.”
According to reports, witnesses - including the woman who drove Eric to the scene - are expected to testify about a conversation between Nipsey and Eric that had to do with rumors about “snitching.”
The family of Nipsey Hussle was not in attendance.
Rolling Stone shares details about what was shown to portray Nipsey's final moments:
The prosecutor played black-and-white video of the shooting twice, once at a slower speed. “Mr. Holder walks between two parked cars where the gentlemen are, and he starts shooting. If you look closely, you can at one point see him shoot from the left hand and the right hand. You’ll see him retreat back after a few shots, and then he goes back and he shoots some more, and he retreats back, and then he goes back, and he shoots even more,” McKinney told the jury.
“The only thing that was said prior to the shooting was [when] Eric was walking in between the two cars, looking at Nipsey and saying, ‘You’re through.’ And Nipsey, after being shot, responding, ‘You got me,’” McKinney said, telling the jury that his office charged “not just murder but premeditated and deliberate murder.”
“You’re going to hear and see evidence that he had plenty of opportunity to think about what he was going to do before he did it,” the prosecutor said. “From the time he got out of the car and all the way back to that strip mall and walked up to those gentlemen and started shooting and shooting and shooting.”
He pointed out the shocking moment just before Holder ran from the scene, when he hovered directly over Hussle’s body crumpled on the asphalt and appeared to kick him in the head. “I think you will find by that kick to the head at the end that it was a very personal attack,” he said.
The first witness of the trial was called by McKinney. HermanDouglas, a 49-year-old self-described former Rollin’ 60s member who worked at Nipsey’s store - confirmed Nipsey popped up at the Marathon Clothing store unannounced the day of the shooting and was talking to friends when Eric Holder appeared unexpectedly.
“Is that Shitty?” Nipsey asked when Eric appeared, according to Herman.
Herman said Nipsey greeted Eric and mentioned that he heard a rumor that Eric had “some paperwork floating around” and needed to “take care of it” to “clear” himself.
“It was more like he was looking out for him. That’s how I took the conversation,” Herman said, adding that he had no sense Nipsey was in danger after making the statement. “Nip was on a friendship-type thing.”
When the shots rang out, Herman said he was inside the store’s break room. He ran outside and found Nipsey lying in the parking lot on his back. Herman recalled trying to “plug” one of the bullet holes with his bare hands as he prayed Nipsey wouldn’t die.
“He was still breathing till he got to the ambulance,” Herman said. “He just kept trying to get up, raise up.”
“He was shot literally from the bottom of his feet to the top of his head,” McKinney said. “Three different bullets perforated his lungs. One transected his spine, so even if he survived, he would have been paraplegic.”
Watch clips from trial below:
Testimony is set to continue today. We hope Nipsey gets justice!
Photos: JStone/Shutterstock/LAPD/Frederick M. Brown/AP