A Los Angeles jury found Eric Holder guilty Wednesday of the first-degree murder of rapper Nipsey Hussle. The jurors — nine wome
A Los Angeles jury found Eric Holder guilty Wednesday of the first-degree murder of rapper Nipsey Hussle.
The jurors — nine women and three men — deliberated about seven hours before coming back with a unanimous verdict Wednesday morning.
Holder stood quietly as the foreperson read the verdict in front of Los Angeles Superior Court Judge H. Clay Jacke. He faces a maximum sentence of life without the possibility of parole.
The jury also found Holder guilty of voluntary manslaughter for shooting two men — Kerry Lathan and Shermi Cervinta Villanueva — as they stood with Hussle outside the rapper’s Marathon clothing store on March 31, 2019.
Holder fired more than 10 shots at the group.
He was initially charged with murder for shooting Lathan and Villanueva, but jurors found him guilty of a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter.
Lathan, who was standing across from Hussle, was shot in the back and was paralyzed from his injuries. Villanueva was grazed by a bullet and was not seriously injured.
Holder was also convicted of possessing a firearm while being a convicted felon and the jury found true allegations that he personally used a firearm and caused great bodily harm and death.
During the two-week trial, prosecutors and defense attorneys argued over the final interaction between Holder and Hussle, who grew up in the same neighborhood.
Holder’s public defender Aaron Jansen said his client shot Hussle in the heat of passion after Hussle accused Holder of being a snitch.
But Deputy District Attorney John McKinney argued the shooting was premeditated. The prosecutor said Hussle never accused Holder of being a snitch and was actually trying to help Holder to clear his name.
A key witness, Bryannita Nicholson, said she saw Holder load a semi-automatic weapon with bullets while he was in her car. Nicholson, who had an intimate relationship with Holder, testified he had instructed her to park her car in an alleyway while he got out.
Video played during the trial showed Holder walking back to the Marathon store parking lot, where he approached and shot Hustle 11 times.
Before leaving the scene, Holder kicked the beloved rapper in the head, a move that was “personal,” McKinney told jurors.
A fourth man who was with the group during the shooting, Evan McKenzie, ran from the scene. During the trial, a $500,000 warrant was issued against McKenzie, who failed to show up to court to testify under subpoena.
While Nicholson did not witness the shooting, she said she heard gunshots. Moments later, Holder ran back to her car and he told her to shut up and drive out of the area.
Before she peeled away from the alleyway, Nicholson said, she saw Holder put two weapons — a semi-automatic and a handgun — into a bag.
Witness Herman Douglas testified he knew both Holder and Hussle since they were all former members of the South Los Angeles Rollin 60s Crips street gang.
He said when Holder initially approached Hussle 10 minutes before the shooting, Holder didn’t seem angry or agitated.
According to Douglas, Hussle was actually trying to help Holder by telling him that people in the neighborhood were saying he had “paperwork,” meaning Holder was somehow involved in a case and should clear his name.
While Douglas testified Holder left the conversation shaking hands with Hussle, Holder’s attorney said his client walked away consumed with anger, causing him to come back 10 minutes later and shoot Hussle in the heat of passion.
McKinney told jurors during his closing argument that Holder had plenty of time to turn around and walk away, but instead ambushed the beloved rapper and shot and injured two other men.
“The evidence showed he went over there, willing to kill everyone in that space,” McKinney said. “Nipsey was clearly the target but (Holder) was willing to kill everyone or chase them away.”