Opening arguments began Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles, in the trial of the man accused of fatally shooting rapper Nipsey Hussle in 2019.
Eric Holder is charged with on one count each of murder and possession of a firearm by a felon, and two counts of attempted murder and assault with a firearm. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Prosecutors said Hussle, real name Ermias Asghedom, was signing autographs and talking to friends outside his Marathon Clothing store in South L.A., when he was approached by Holder on March 31, 2019.
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According to a grand jury transcript unsealed in June of that year, Holder became angry when Hussle accused him of “snitching.”
“Apparently, the conversation had something to do with [Hussle] telling Mr. Holder that word on the street was that Mr. Holder was snitching,” Deputy Dist. Atty. John McKinney told the grand jury.
The LAPD said Holder left the area after the conversation, but returned a short time later with a gun in each hand. The gunman opened fire on Hussle in broad daylight, then kicked the hip-hop star in the head.
The Los Angeles County coroner’s office reported Hussle, 33, was shot at least ten times. He died from gunshot wounds to the head and torso. Two other men were injured in the shooting.
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The gunman fled the scene immediately after the shooting. Days later, a witness called authorities to report seeing a person believed to be the shooter, and Holder was arrested in nearby Bellflower on April 2, 2019. He’s been in jail since his arrest.
He was initially represented by Christopher Darden, who is widely known as one of the prosecutors in O.J. Simpson’s 1995 murder trial. Darden later said he was withdrawing from the case after receiving threats from “angry mobs.”
Holder, now 32, was described in media reports as an aspiring rapper who went by the street name “Sh-tty Cuz.” He is also believed to be a gang member.