Nipsey Hussle was brutally murdered outside his Los Angeles clothing store three years ago because the admitted gunman, his former boyfriend Eric Ronald Jr., harbored bitter resentments for the beloved rapper’s worldwide fame in an industry where Holder had failed, a said prosecutor to the jury in his closing arguments Thursday.
The prosecutor said Holder, 32, was from the same neighborhood as Hussle, was part of the same Rollin’ ’60s street gang that both men joined when they were young, and was motivated by deep envy — not a “snooping” Accusation – when he left an initial call in the parking lot with Hussle, drove around the block, loaded a gun, ate some chili cheese fries, asked his unwitting getaway driver to wait in an alley, put on a shirt, stalked back to Hussle’s shop and opened fire with a semi-automatic in one hand and a silver revolver in the other.
“I submit to you that the motive for killing Nipsey Hussle had little or nothing to do with the conversation they had; There is already an existing jealousy,” Los Angeles County Assistant District Attorney John McKinney told jurors.
“As he approached the group, he said to Nipsey Hussle, ‘You’re done.’ ‘You’re through.’ He didn’t say, ‘I’m not a snitch.’ He didn’t say, ‘Why are you talking about me?’ He didn’t say, ‘Why do you hate me?’ He said, ‘You’re done,'” McKinney argued before it was defense attorney Aaron Jansen’s turn to present his dueling theory of the case.
“I don’t think I’m exaggerating or overthinking it. When you say to someone, ‘You’re done,’ that seems to be a broader way of rejecting the person,” McKinney said. “Here you have Nipsey Hussle, a successful artist from the same neighborhood, [and] Mr. Holder, who is an unsuccessful rap artist.”
He described Hussle as “obviously loved” who was holding court in the parking lot of his popular clothing store, The Marathon, when Holder happened to bump into him while driving through the neighborhood with a friend.
“Everyone takes pictures with him,” he said of Hussle. Even “the girl who brought [Holder] to the parking lot glad to see him.”
Jansen contradicted the mention of “jealousy” seconds after McKinney brought up her as a motive. He said it was based on “unproven facts”. The judge overruled him.
The debate over what prompted Holder to execute Hussle in broad daylight as he stood amid a group of people was at the center of the high-profile trial, which began with opening statements June 15.
Holder has pleaded not guilty to one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder in connection with two other men allegedly hit by his bullets, two counts of assault with a gun and one count of possession of a gun by a criminal. If convicted of the charges, he faces a possible life sentence.
Faced with a mountain of surveillance footage, photos and testimonies, Holder does not deny that he shot Hussle. Instead, his defense hinges on the claim that he acted “in the heat of passion,” meaning his actions were provoked and rashly carried out by charges of “espionage.” Jansen said during his opening statement that the jury should reduce the charge to first degree manslaughter.
“This case would never become a crime thriller,” McKinney said Thursday. He asked the jury to dismiss the defense position, saying Hussle provoked Holder’s “emotional” reaction when he mentioned “paperwork” related to a rumor alleging Holder had colluded with law enforcement — a serious misdemeanor in gang culture.
“Everyone agrees it was some sort of normal, casual entertainment. It wasn’t hostile. It didn’t look like there would be a fight. Nobody was excited,” McKinney said.
He further argued that the jury should find Holder guilty on the two counts of attempted murder related to the other two men injured by the gunshots because Holder intended to kill more than just Hussle.
“Holder went over there, I’ll admit, to shoot everyone in this room because he doesn’t know who else is packing,” McKinney said. “He doesn’t know who is armed and who isn’t. So if he goes back, he goes back not with one gun, but with two because he doesn’t know what resistance he’s going to meet.”
Herman “Cowboy” Douglas, a close friend of Hussle and a key eyewitness to the “paperwork” conversation who testified at the trial, attended closing arguments Thursday and became visibly emotional when McKinney showed video of the brutal murder.
“Nipsey falls first, falls like dead weight. It’s likely that the first or second shot was the one that severed his spine, and he’s experiencing being shot over and over again…He holds his arm up as he’s getting shot over and over again,” McKinney said as Douglas sat down wiped tears from his eyes.
As Holder was being ushered out of the courtroom by prison deputies for their lunch break, Douglas spoke to him in a loud voice from the back row of the gallery. He bore a swollen left eye and three staples in the back of his head from an alleged beating by fellow inmates first reported by Rolling StoneHolder heard Douglas clearly and looked his way.
“Put a steak on the eye. Put a raw steak on that eye,” Douglas said. “Yes, I’m going for a steak.”
The Los Angeles jury hearing the murder case is expected to begin deliberation later Thursday after Holder’s defense presented its closing argument.