The man who shot and killed Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle minutes after a brief argument in 2019 has been found guilty of murdering the rising artist. Eric Holder, 32, was convicted by a jury in California on Wednesday after six hours of deliberations.
Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, was shot outside his LA clothing store. The 33-year-old had reportedly known the killer for several years. Following his death, tributes were paid from across the music industry.
Holder was also found guilty of two counts of attempted manslaughter as two other men were shot in the incident. He could get life in prison when he is sentenced in September. He belonged to the same street gang as Hussle and had previously admitted to killing him.
Witnesses say he left the scene after a ten minute argument, in which Hussle warned him of rumours that he was co-operating with police, and returned with two handguns. His defence team argued that he attacked him in the “heat of passion” but the jury agreed that the attack was premeditated.
At the 2019 BET Awards, Hussle was posthumously given the Best Male Hip Hop Artist and Humanitarian Awards. Over 20,000 people attended a celebration of his life, with former US President Barack Obama praising him for leaving “a legacy worth of celebration”.
Hussle, a former gang member in Los Angeles, had become a community organiser and used the money he made from music to fund improvements to his neighbourhood. After his death he was praised as a “West Coast hero” by members of the city council, who unanimously voted to re-name an intersection “Nipsey Hussle Square” in his south LA neighbourhood.
Bryannita Nicholson, a woman who was in a casual relationship with Holder and unwittingly drove him to and from the murder scene, testified in court during the trial that she saw Holder load a gun before the shooting.
She said that they spotted the rapper on the street outside his Marathon clothing store while they were picking up a food order. Holder rushed over and she said she heard him loudly tell the rapper: “Did you say I snitched?”.
Ms Nicholson added that she posed for a photo with Hussle while Holder went to collect the food. The witness, who came forward to police leading to Holder’s arrest, said that she saw Holder eat some food before he left her car to kill Hussle.
Last week, Holder was attacked in jail by “multiple individuals” his public defender told CBS News. He was reportedly cut with a razor, and taken to hospital where he had a wound to his head closed with staples.