Jury finds man guilty of murdering rapper Nipsey Hussle

AP Entertainment Editor

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A 32-year-old man who grew up on the same streets in the same gang as Nipsey Hussle was convicted Wednesday of first-degree murder in the 2019 shooting of the Grammy-winning rapper, who rose above his circumstances to become an inspiration to the neighborhood where he was ultimately shot.

The Los Angeles County jury also found Eric R. Holder Jr. guilty of two counts of attempted manslaughter for shootings that struck other men at the scene. Prosecutors had sought two counts of attempted murder. Holder was also convicted of two counts of assault with a firearm against the same men.

Holder, wearing a blue suit and face mask, stood in the small courtroom next to his attorney as the verdict was read. He had no visible reaction. His attorney, Deputy Public Defender Aaron Jansen, admitted during the trial that Holder shot Hussle, 33, whose legal name is Ermias Asghedom, but asked for a lesser verdict of intentional homicide.

Jansen said in an email that he was deeply disappointed with the first-degree murder verdict.

“It was always going to be difficult given the high-profile circumstances surrounding the case,” Jansen said.

He added that he and Holder were grateful the jury agreed the attempted murder counts were overcharged. They plan to appeal the murder conviction, he said.

A jury of nine women and three men deliberated for about six hours over two days before reaching the verdict. Most of their deliberations took place on Friday, and they quickly reached their unanimous decision on Wednesday, reconvening briefly after a four-day break. A pair of typos on the verdict form discovered when the results were read out forced the jurors to briefly return to deliberations before the result could be made official, but they had no bearing on the outcome.

“We are both proud and I am somewhat relieved that the verdict is in full and absolute agreement with the charges that Eric Holder murdered Ermias Asghedom in cold blood,” Assistant District Attorney John McKinney told the court. courtroom. “We hope today is a day when the Asghedom family and Nipsey Hussle friends and fans around the world find some closure.”

None of Hussle’s relatives were in the room when the verdict was read, and none attended the trial.

The judge has a wide range of options when sentencing Holder on Sept. 15. The first degree murder charge alone carries a sentence of 25 years to life.

“Obviously nothing that happened here today can heal the wound, nothing that happened here today can restore Mr. Asghedom to this world, but we hope that there will be resounding peace in the fact that his killer will likely be in jail for the rest of his life,” McKinney said.

The verdict ends a legal saga that has lasted more than three years and a trial often delayed due to the pandemic.

Hussle and Holder had known each other for years as members of Rollin ’60 in South Los Angeles when a chance encounter outside the clothing store the rapper opened in his neighborhood led to the shooting and his death.

The evidence against Holder was overwhelming, from eyewitnesses to local business surveillance cameras that filmed his arrival, the shooting and his departure.

The shooting follows a conversation the two men had about rumors that Holder acted as an informant for authorities. Jansen argued that being publicly accused of being a ‘snitch’ by someone as prominent as Hussle ignited a ‘heat of passion’ in Holder that made him not guilty of first-degree murder. degree.

Hussle’s close friend Herman ‘Cowboy’ Douglas, who stood next to him when he was shot and testified at trial, said the conversation he overheard did not explain the murder to him .

“It feels good to wrap up, but I still need to know why,” Douglas said after the verdict.

After years of grinding that earned him underground praise – his nickname was both a play on comedian Nipsey Russell’s name and a nod to the restlessness the future hip-hop star showed making music and selling CDs – Hussle had just released his major-label debut album and earned his first Grammy nomination when he was killed.

He was a much-loved figure in Los Angeles, especially in the South Los Angeles area where he grew up and remained after gaining fame, buying property, and opening businesses.

A year after his death, Hussle was mourned at a memorial at the arena then known as Staples Center, and celebrated with a Grammy performance that included DJ Khaled and John Legend.

It was more than two years after the man who shot him was going to stand trial.

“Today was really about Nipsey Hussle and the legacy he leaves behind,” McKinney said Wednesday. “This verdict and his life story will certainly be discussed in Crenshaw and Slauson, but its significance will extend far beyond these streets.”


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