CITY OF ANGELS — A man convicted of shooting rapper Nipsey Hussle in 2019 will likely spend the rest of his life in prison when he is sentenced Wednesday in a Los Angeles courtroom.
Jurors in July found Eric R. Holder Jr., 32, guilty of first-degree murder of the 33-year-old Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist outside the clothing store Hussle founded, the Marathon, in the South Los neighborhood Angeles. where both men grew up.
Holder was also convicted of two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter and two counts of assault with a firearm for gunshot wounds to two other men who survived.
The sentencing was partially delayed so defense attorney Aaron Jansen could move for Superior Court Judge H. Clay Jacke to reduce Holder’s conviction to manslaughter or second-degree murder, which the judge denied in December.
Jacke will have a wide range of options when he sentences Holder at a hearing Thursday morning, but the murder conviction alone carries a sentence of 25 years to life. Because of the other convictions, and the special sentencing circumstances found by real jurors, it is almost certain that Holder will spend the rest of his life in prison. The holder was not eligible for the death penalty.
“We hope there is an extraordinary peace in that his killer will likely be in prison for the rest of his life,” lead prosecutor Deputy District Attorney John McKinney said after the verdict. .
Actress Lauren London, who was Hussle’s partner and the mother of his two young children, did not attend any part of the trial, nor did any of his relatives, and no one is expected to give victim impact statements, as it happens often at such hearings.
The evidence against Holder was so overwhelming — from eyewitnesses to surveillance cameras from local businesses that captured his arrival, shooting and departure — that his attorney admitted during the trial that he shot Hussle.
But Jansen argued to jurors that the heated circumstances of the shooting meant that voluntary manslaughter deserved a lesser verdict.
The jury returned with the verdict of first degree murder after approximately six hours of deliberation.
Jansen later said he was “very disappointed” in the verdict, which they planned to appeal.
He managed to score a minor victory for Holder by securing voluntary manslaughter convictions when prosecutors were seeking attempted murder verdicts.
The sentencing, originally scheduled for September but postponed at the request of the defense, ends a legal saga that has lasted more than three years and a trial that has been delayed many times by the pandemic.
Hussle, whose legal name is Ermias Asghedom, and Holder knew each other for years growing up as members of the Rollin’ 60s in South LA. Both were aspiring rappers. But Holder never found the same success as Hussle, who would become a local hero and a national celebrity.
A chance meeting outside the Marathon, in a shopping mall owned by Hussle, led to a conversation between the two men about rumors that Holder was acting as an informant for the authorities. Jansen argued that someone as prominent as Hussle instilled a “heat of passion” in Holder towards him, prompting the shooting.
A woman who was with Holder that day took a photo with Hussle before being appointed as a getaway driver without the knowledge of Holder, a key witness for the prosecution.
After years of dedicated work that earned him underground acclaim — his nickname was a play on comedian Nipsey Russell and a nod to the future hip-hop star’s drive to make music and sell CDs — Hussle was just after releasing his major stories. -label debut album and earned his first Grammy nomination when he was killed.
A year after his death, he mourned at a memorial at what was then known as the Staples Center, and was celebrated in a performance at the Grammy Awards that included DJ Khaled and John Legend.
Follow AP Entertainment writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton