LOS ANGELES ( Associated Press) — Rapper Nipsey Hussle was shot outside her clothing store in a planned manner after a man upset over discussions about snitching, a prosecutor said Monday in a long-delayed murder case. Told the jurors at the beginning of the trial.
Deputy District Attorney John McKinney said during his opening statement on Wednesday that there is no doubt that Eric R. Holder knew in advance that he would kill Hussle. The prosecutor described the sequence of events, including talk about “snitching” before Hussle’s shooting death three years earlier in the South Los Angeles neighborhood where both men grew up and the rapper helping with the revival. Two others were injured in the shooting.
In addition to shooting Hussle at least 10 times, Holder kicked the rapper in the head before fleeing, McKinney told a jury assembled in a Los Angeles courtroom.
“He clearly thought about what he was going to do before he did it,” McKinney told jurors of Holder’s intentions.
Holder, 32, faces one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder.
Born Ermias Asghdom, a hip-hop artist, father of two, and widely beloved South L.A. local, he was shot and killed in the parking lot outside his store on March 31, 2019, at the age of 33 Known as Marathon.
McKinney said that Holder and Hussle knew each other, having grown up in the same neighborhood where they were members of the same gang, Rollin’ in the ’60s.
In his opening statement, McKinney showed video of the jurors and photos of the shooting and aftermath. Images showed Shooter and Holder carrying a semi-automatic gun and a revolver, wearing a red shirt and bandana, fleeing the scene. After a two-day search, Holder was arrested, and two months later he was indicted by a grand jury.
McKinney said the shooting stemmed from Hustle’s hearing that Holder was a thug and needed to “clean it up.” Before shooting, he said the rapper and two of his friends were having a “good conversation” with Holder. He said Hussle went to the shop without any security.
Attorney Aaron Jenson has a formidable job defending Holder, who, if convicted, could face a life sentence. Several eyewitnesses who knew both Holder and Hustle told police and grand jurors that Holder went up to Hustle and shot him.
Jensen has stated that Hussle’s murder was not premeditated, and that the shooting of the other two men was not intended at all, making the charges of first-degree murder and attempted murder excessive. He could also make Holder’s mental health an issue.
On Wednesday, Jensen said Holder was triggered and didn’t have time to calm down, before shooting Hussle, saying it was a case of “hot passion.”
Herman “Cowboy” Douglas, a former gang member who worked at The Marathon, said that Hussle did not use the actual word “snitch” while listening to the conversation. He thought Hussle was trying to offer some advice to Holder in a “chill” exchange. He said that Holder asked Hussle if he had heard his recent music, but he did not feel any animosity between the two men.
“He was saying ‘I heard there was some paperwork going on,'” said Douglas, who remembered Hussle’s words to Holder. Douglas was an employee at the clothing store, cleaning the parking lot, among other duties. He saw himself as Hustle’s mentor and said that he was like his “younger brother”.
Douglas, 49, who wore a black jacket and T-shirt with Hustle’s image on both, said “I haven’t seen (the paperwork). You need to take care of it.”
Another key witness is expected to testify, the woman McEnany said inadvertently served as Holder’s getaway driver, Brianita Nicholson.
Holder and Nicholson stopped by The Marathon to get food. This led to a chance meeting and brief conversation between Holder and Hussle.
McKinney said that “Eric Holder was taken to a point to return to the parking lot and kill Nipsey Hussle.”
McKinney said that Holder told Nicholson “drive before I slap you” after the shooting.
Lawyers have spent about two weeks choosing the jury, and the trial is expected to last about two weeks.
Hussle, whose nickname is a play on a famous 1970s comedian, was given the moniker for his work ethic as he slinged CDs. They spent years winning a devoted following through mixtapes and underground releases, and broke up with their first major-label album, earning a Grammy nomination a few months before being killed off.
His death reverberated around the world but it was especially felt in his hometown, where people filled the streets to mark his loss and where he was mourned at a memorial in a 20,000-seat arena called Staples. The center was known as His memory was celebrated in a performance by DJ Khaled, Meek Mill John Legend and others at the Grammy Awards in the same building nearly a year later, the same day another local hero, Kobe Bryant, was killed in a helicopter crash.
Hussle left behind his longtime partner, actor Lauren London, with whom he had a son who is now 5 years old. They also had a daughter who is now 13 years old.