Closing arguments in Nipsey Hussle’s murder trial began Thursday in Los Angeles as prosecutors claimed his killer was armed with two loaded guns and a plan to shoot the rapper.
The rapper was murdered when arch-enemy 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 the prosecutors.
Los Angeles County Assistant District Attorney John McKinney said Holder deliberately killed Hussle and injured two other men – and insisted the murder had nothing to do with a ‘snitch allegation’ .
“He approached the group and said to Nipsey Hussle, ‘You’re done,'” McKinney told jurors. “He didn’t say, ‘I’m not a snitch…Why are you talking about me?’
“I submit to you 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 shot Hussle – whose real name is Ermias Joseph Asghedom – on March 31, 2019.
Los Angeles County Deputy Public Defender Aaron Jansen said Holder shot Hussle in the heat of the moment because the “Racks in the Middle” rapper accused his client of being a snitch.
Holder, 32, faces multiple charges including murder, attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a felon.
McKinney said Thursday the attack on Hussle “was personal” and video footage showed Holder kicking Hussle as the rapper lay on the ground bleeding and fighting for his life.
Hussle and his alleged killer grew up in the same neighborhood and belonged to the same street gang – the Rollin 60s Crips. The similarities between the two ended there as Hussle rose to 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 neighborhood…this man was different,” McKinney told jurors as he displayed a smiling photo of Hussle on a large television screen. “He wanted to change the neighborhood. He invested in the neighborhood – and the neighborhood loved him.
Jansen admitted to jurors that his client shot Hussle, but denied that it was premeditated. He said Hussle’s accusation that Holder was a snitch inflamed his client.
Jansen said Holder should have been charged with voluntary manslaughter rather than murder. The lawyer insisted his client had no intention of shooting the other two men – Kerry Lathan and Shermi Cervinta Villanueva – as he did not know them.
McKinney, however, said Thursday that Holder planned the murder.
“The evidence showed he went there ready to kill everyone in that space,” McKinney said. “Nipsey was clearly the target but (Holder) was ready to kill everyone or chase them away.”
Lathan, 56, suffered serious injuries from a bullet to the 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 continued on Tuesday after Holder was allegedly attacked by inmates after being taken back to jail after leaving court on Monday.
McKinney will continue his closing argument on Thursday and will be followed by the defense.
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