The man who admitted to killing rapper Nipsey Hussle in 2019 was attacked and slashed with a razor by two LA County jail inmates on his way to court this week, briefly delaying the trial, his attorney said.
Eric Holder Jr., 33, lost consciousness and needed three staples to close a wound on the back of his head after jumping into a holding cell Tuesday morning while waiting to be brought to court, according to his attorney Aaron Jansen .
When the jury arrived in court on Tuesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge H. ClayJacket told them the trial had been stayed because of an “unforeseen medical” incident involving Holder.
Holder was back in court Wednesday, but with visible braces in the back of his head and for the first time in the trial, his face was covered by a covering.
Late Wednesday morning, Jansen told reporters in a courtroom that his client had been assaulted while he was in a holding cell with about 13 other inmates. Holder had his head down and his eyes rested when he was hit from behind, Jansen said, adding that the men hit him and cut him with a razor.
Holder was taken to a hospital and suffered bruises and abrasions to his face in addition to the laceration, Jansen said.
According to Jansen, the two attackers said nothing to Holder, and a motive for the attack was not immediately clear. Despite the incident, Jansen said his client was “okay” to continue with the trial.
Both prosecutors and the defense rested their cases on Wednesday, and the case is expected to be in the hands of a jury late Thursday.
Hussle was signing autographs and speaking to fans in the parking lot of Crenshaw Shopping Center, where his Marathon clothing store was located, when he had a conversation with Holder on March 31, 2019.
Both men are members of the Crips’ Rollin 60s group, which has long dominated the neighborhood. Hussle told Holder there was a rumor going around that he was involved in a police investigation, the kind of gossip that witnesses say in gang circles quickly turns deadly.
Moments later, Holder returned with two handguns and opened fire. Hussle was shot eleven times and died shortly thereafter. Two other men were also injured. Holder was arrested two days later after the woman serving as his unwitting getaway driver surrendered to police.
Jansen admitted Holder committed the murder during his opening statement two weeks ago, but he has argued that his client should be convicted of manslaughter, not murder.
Hussle’s comments about the spies made Holder “so angry and agitated” that he didn’t pause to consider his actions before opening fire, argued Jansen. The attorney also said Holder had no intention of harming Kerry Lathan or Shermi Villanueva, the two men who were wounded in the shooting but survived.
Holder faces a de facto life sentence if convicted of murder and attempted murder.
Neither the prosecution nor Deputy Dist. atty John McKinney, who is prosecuting the case, has commented on the attack on Holder. The jail brawl was not mentioned before the jury, and McKinney berated Jansen Wednesday for discussing the attack with reporters inside the courthouse so a worried jury could overhear.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which operates the county’s jails and is responsible for Holder’s safety while incarcerated, has repeatedly refused to provide information about the attack. A spokeswoman for the sheriff’s department on Tuesday urged a Times reporter to file a public record request for information about the attack.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.