The closing arguments in the Nipsey Hussle murder trial began Thursday in Los Angeles, when prosecutors claimed his killer arrived belted with two loaded guns and a plot to shoot the rapper.
The rapper was murdered when nemesis Eric Holder allegedly fired at least 13 shots from a semi-automatic weapon and a handgun outside the Marathon clothing store in south Los Angeles in 2019, according to prosecutors.
Los Angeles County Assistant District Attorney John McKinney said Holder deliberately killed Hussle and injured two other men – and insisted the killing had nothing to do with a “spike charge.”
“He walked up to the group and said to Nipsey Hussle, ‘You’re done,'” McKinney told the jury. “He didn’t say, ‘I’m not a snitch… Why are you talking about me?’
“I am implying that the motive for the murder of Nipsey Hussle had little or nothing to do with the conversation they had. [Holder] already had a pre-existing jealousy of Nipsey Hussle.”
Holder’s murder trial began earlier this month, more than three years after he gunned Hussle – real name Ermias Joseph Asghedom – on March 31, 2019.
Los Angeles County Assistant Public Defender Aaron Jansen said Holder shot Hussle in the heat of passion because the “Racks in the Middle” rapper accused his client of being a snitch.
The 32-year-old holder faces multiple charges including murder, attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a criminal.
McKinney said Thursday that the attack on Hussle was “personal” and video footage showed Holder kicking Hussle while the rapper lay on the ground bleeding and fighting for his life.
Hussle and his accused killer grew up in the same neighborhood and belonged to the same street gang – the Rollin 60s Crips. The similarities between the two men ended there, with Hussle finding fame for his music while Holder struggled with his own rap career, McKinney told jurors.
“When people are successful, they make money, they leave their neighborhoods…this man was different,” McKinney told jurors as he showed a smiling picture of Hussle on a big screen TV. “He wanted to change the neighborhood. He invested in the neighborhood and the neighborhood loved him.”
Jansen admitted to the jury that his client shot Hussle, but denied it was intentional. He said Hussle’s allegations that Holder was a snitch incensed his client.
Jansen said Holder should have been charged with manslaughter rather than murder. The attorney insisted his client had no intention of shooting the other two men – Kerry Lathan and Shermi Cervinta Villanueva – because he didn’t know them.
However, McKinney said Thursday that Holder planned the murder.
“The evidence showed that he went there ready to kill anyone in that room,” McKinney said. “Nipsey was clearly the target, but[Holder]was willing to kill everyone or chase them away.”
Lathan, 56, was seriously injured by a gunshot in his back and is now in a wheelchair in a convalescent home. Villanueva, Lathan’s nephew, was only grazed by a bullet. Both men testified at the trial.
The trial resumed on Tuesday after Holder was reportedly assaulted by inmates after he was taken back to jail on Monday after leaving court.
McKinney will continue his closing arguments Thursday, followed by the defense.