Jury decides Holder acted with premeditation when he opened fire on the beloved musician back in 2019.
Three years after Grammy-winning rapper, visionary entrepreneur and hometown hero Nipsey Hussle was gunned down in a stunning public slaying outside his South Los Angeles clothing store, his admitted killer was convicted of first-degree murder on Wednesday.
A jury of nine women and three men decided Eric Ronald Holder Jr. acted with premeditation when he opened fire on the beloved musician with a black semi-automatic in one hand and a silver revolver in the other during an afternoon ambush at a strip mall parking lot on March 31, 2019.
Whereas an estimated 20,000 fans and music industry elite packed the Staples Center for Hussle’s public memorial – and thousands more mobbed his hearse during its 25-mile procession through the streets of South Los Angeles – Holder was on his own in the courtroom when he learned his fate, save for his public defense team.
In his closing argument last week, Deputy District Attorney John McKinney highlighted the devastating loss at the center of the trial that Hussle’s immediate family chose not to attend. The prosecutor called Hussle “a favorite son” of South Los Angeles who transcended the “pockets of concentrated poverty” and perils of gang life gripping his Hyde Park neighborhood to become an acclaimed recording artist, burgeoning entrepreneur and noted philanthropist.
“The streets he used to run as a young man became the life material that he used to become a voice of those same streets. While some people get successful, they make money, they leave their neighborhood, they change their address, this man was different. He wanted to change the neighborhood. He invested in the neighborhood. He kept the same friends and the neighborhood loved him. They called him Neighborhood Nip,” McKinney said.
“He was a father, he was a son, he was a brother, he was a human being,” the prosecutors said, showing jurors a photo of Hussle crouching down to take a photo with a young child just moments before his death.
“I’m sad. I miss my friend. He’s supposed to still be here,” Herman “Cowboy” Douglas, a friend of Hussle’s who was there when the rapper died, told reporters following the verdict. “[Nipsey] had such an impact on a lot of people. We started off as gangbangers but we changed.” Douglas was visibly emotional following the verdict, sobbing on a bench outside the courtroom.
Speaking on Holder, Douglas added, “I’m happy he’s going to have a lot of time to think of what he’s done. I still need to know why. It was so senseless. Why?” Holder himself was stoic during the verdict, showing little emotion or reaction to the decision. Sentencing is set to take place on September 15th.
As soon as the trial kicked off with opening statements June 15, Holder admitted through his public defender, Aaron Jansen, that he fired the 10 or 11 bullets that struck the rapper from the top of his head down to his feet, ripping through his liver and lungs and severing his spine. But Holder, 32, was adamant the deadly attack amounted to only voluntary manslaughter, not premeditated murder. Jansen said his client was acting in the “heat of passion” when he started firing his weapons a “mere nine minutes” after an initial parking lot conversation with Hussle in which the Keys 2 The City rapper mentioned a rumor was circulating that there was “paperwork” on Holder. In gang parlance, “paperwork” means documentation showing someone is a police informant. Janen said his client considered the allegation a “snitch jacket” that threatened his life.
Beyond his music and personally helmed businesses, Hussle also was a prominent investor in Vector 90, a tech incubator and co-working space in the Crenshaw District, and promoter of the Destination Crenshaw project, an outdoor commercial corridor filled with public art installations, pocket parks and newly planted trees running 1.3 miles along Crenshaw Boulevard in South Los Angeles.