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Ex-colleague guilty in killing of Hussle

by ANDREW DALTON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | July 7, 2022 at 4:36 a.m.
Eric Holder Jr. enters a Los Angeles courtroom Wednesday to hear the verdict in his trial in the killing of rapper Nipsey Hussle. Holder was found guilty. (AP/Jae C. Hong)

LOS ANGELES -- A 32-year-old man who grew up on the same streets in the same gang as Nipsey Hussle was found guilty Wednesday of first-degree murder in the 2019 shooting of the Grammy-winning rapper, who rose above his circumstances to become an inspiration to the neighborhood where he was eventually gunned down.

The Los Angeles County jury also found Eric R. Holder Jr. guilty of two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter for gunfire that hit other men at the scene. Prosecutors had sought two counts of attempted murder. Holder also was found guilty of two counts of assault with a firearm on the same men.

Holder, wearing a blue suit and mask, stood up in the small court room next to his lawyer as the verdict was read. He had no visible reaction. His lawyer conceded during the trial that Holder shot Hussle, 33, whose legal name is Ermias Asghedom, but had sought a lesser verdict of voluntary manslaughter.

"I am deeply disappointment in the First Degree Murder verdict," Holder's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Aaron Jansen, said in an email. "It was always going to be tough given the high profile circumstances surrounding the case."

"We are both proud and I am a little relieved that the verdict came in a complete, absolute agreement with the charges that Eric Holder murdered Ermias Asghedom in cold blood," Deputy District Attorney John McKinney said outside the courtroom. "We hope that today is a day in which the Asghedom family and the friends and fans of Nipsey Hussle around the world will find some measure of closure."

No relatives of Hussle were in the room when the verdict was read, nor did any attend the trial.

The judge has a wide range of options when he sentences Holder on Sept. 15. The first-degree murder charge alone carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Hussle and Holder had known each other for years growing up as members of the Rollin' 60s in South Los Angeles when a chance meeting outside the clothing store the rapper opened in his neighborhood led to the shooting, and his death.

The shooting followed a conversation the two men had about rumors that Holder had been acting as an informant for authorities. Jansen argued that being publicly accused of being a "snitch" by a person as prominent as Hussle brought on a "heat of passion" in Holder that made him innocent of first-degree murder.

Hussle's close friend Herman "Cowboy" Douglas, who was standing next to him when he was shot and testified at the trial, said the conversation he heard does not explain the killing for him.

"It feels good to get some closure, but I still need to know why," Douglas said after the verdict.

After years of grinding that won him underground acclaim -- his nickname was both a play on the name of comedian Nipsey Russell and a nod to the hustle the future hip-hop star showed in making music and selling CDs -- Hussle had just released his major-label debut album and earned his first Grammy nomination when he was killed.

He was a widely beloved figure in Los Angeles, especially in the South LA area where he grew up and remained after gaining fame, buying property and opening businesses.

Print Headline: Ex-colleague guilty in killing of Hussle

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