Nipsey Hussle’s final moments detailed as murder trial begins
Rapper Nipsey Hussle was shot outside his clothing store in a calculated and premeditated manner by a man upset over a snitching discussion, a prosecutor told jurors on Wednesday at the start of a long-delayed murder trial.
Assistant District Attorney John McKinney said in his opening statement that there was “no doubt” that Eric R. Holder knew in advance that he would kill Hussle. The prosecutor described the sequence of events, including the ‘snitch’ speech, prior to Hussle’s shooting death three years ago in the South Los Angeles neighborhood where the pair grew up and the rapper was helping to revitalize. 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 the jury assembled in a downtown 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.
Hussle, a hip-hop artist, father of two and Ermias Asghedom, from South Los Angeles, was shot and killed at age 33 on March 31, 2019, in the parking lot outside his store, known as The Marathon .
McKinney said Holder and Hussle knew each other, having grown up in the same neighborhood where they were members of the same gang, the Rollin ’60s.
In his opening statement, McKinney showed jurors videos and photos of the shooting and its aftermath. Footage showed the shooting and Holder fleeing the scene, wearing a red shirt and bandana while carrying a semi-automatic pistol and a revolver. After a two-day manhunt, Holder was arrested and two months later was indicted by a grand jury.
McKinney said the shooting stemmed from Hussle hearing that Holder was a snitch and needed to “clear that up.” Prior to filming, he said the rapper and his two friends had a “nice chat” with Holder. He said Hussle visited the store without any security.
Attorney Aaron Jansen has a formidable job defending Holder, who could face life in prison if convicted. Several eyewitnesses who knew both Holder and Hussle told police and grand jurors that Holder approached Hussle and shot him dead.
Jansen said Hussle’s murder was not premeditated and the killing of the other two men was completely unintentional, making the charges of first degree murder and attempted murder excessive. He’s also likely to make Holder’s mental health an issue.
On Wednesday, Jansen said Holder was triggered and didn’t have time to calm down before shooting Hussle, saying it was a case of “passionate passion.”
Former gang member Herman “Cowboy” Douglas, who worked at the Marathon, said Hussle didn’t use the word “golden snitch” when hearing the conversation. He thought Hussle was trying to give Holder advice in a “cold” exchange. He said Holder asked Hussle if he had listened to his recent music, but he sensed no animosity between the two men.
“He was saying, ‘I heard there was paperwork floating around,'” Douglas, who recalled Hussle’s words to Holder, said Douglas was a clothing store worker, cleaning up the parking lot as well. than other tasks, he considered himself a mentor to Hussle, saying he was like his “little brother”.
Douglas, 49, who wore a black jacket and a t-shirt with Hussle’s image on both, said Hussle added that “I didn’t see (the paperwork). You have to deal with it.”
Another key witness expected to testify is the woman, according to McKnney, who unwittingly drove Holder’s getaway, Bryannita Nicholson.
Holder and Nicholson had stopped to refuel near the Marathon. This led to a chance encounter and a brief conversation between Holder and Hussle.
McKinney said “it made Eric Holder want to go back to the parking lot and kill Nipsey Hussle”.
McKinney said Holder told Nicholson “Drive before I slap you,” after the shooting.
Lawyers spent nearly two weeks choosing a jury and the trial is expected to last about two more weeks.
Hussle, whose nickname is a play on a famous 1970s comedian, earned the nickname for his work ethic while releasing CDs. He spent years gaining a devoted following through mixtapes and underground releases, and broke through with his major label debut, earning a Grammy nomination just months before his death.
His death echoed around the world, but it was particularly felt in his hometown, where people filled the streets to mark his loss and where he was mourned at a memorial in the 20,000-seat arena then known as the Staples Center. In the same building nearly a year later, his memory was celebrated with a performance by DJ Khaled, Meek Mill John Legend and others at the Grammy Awards, on the same day another local hero, Kobe Bryant, was killed in a helicopter crash.
Hussle left behind his longtime partner, actress Lauren London, with whom he had a son who is now 5 years old. He also had a daughter who is now 13.