A man who admitted gunning down rapper Nipsey Hussle in front of the musician’s South Los Angeles clothing store but insisted the killing was an impulsive act committed in the heat of passion was convicted this week of first-degree murder.
Eric Holder Jr, 32, was also convicted of two counts each of attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm involving two other people who were injured in the March 31, 2019, shooting, along with one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. Jurors also found true allegations that he personally and intentionally discharged a handgun and that he personally inflicted great bodily injury on one of the victims.
Holder’s attorney argued during the trial that the shooting was carried out in the “heat of passion,” and did not rise to the level of first-degree murder. He argued that at most, Holder committed manslaughter when he killed the 33-year-old rapper, whose real name was Ermias Joseph Asghedom, outside Hussle’s store near Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue.
Jurors deliberated for nearly five hours on July 1, then met for just over a half-hour Wednesday morning before announcing they had reached a verdict.
When the trial began, defense attorney Aaron Jansen conceded his client `”hot and killed” the rapper, but said the crime in which his client fired with one gun in each hand occurred in the “heat of passion.”
In his closing argument on June 30, Jansen told jurors: “This was an act of impulse and rashness.”
The defense attorney said his client had “no cooling-off period” after being “called publicly a snitch by someone as famous as Nipsey Hussle” nine minutes and 10 seconds earlier.
“This is a provocation that stirs up rage and powerful emotions,” Jansen said.
Holder’s attorney also contended that the case was “overcharged from the beginning,” and that the correct charge against Holder involving the rapper’s slaying should have been voluntary manslaughte—an option Superior Court Judge H. Clay Jacke told jurors earlier they could consider.
Deputy District Attorney John McKinney called the killing “cold-blooded” and “calculated,” saying Holder had “quite a bit of time for premeditation and deliberation” before returning to the parking lot where the rapper was shot 10 to 11 times.