The Nipsey Hussle murder trial began Wednesday, with the jury hearing opening statements.
Hussle, a Grammy-winning rapper who was born Ermias Asghedom, was gunned down in April 2019 outside of his clothing store in South Los Angeles.
Eric Holder has been charged with Hussle’s death. He was indicted on one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Holder faces up to life in prison, if convicted as charged. He has pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution began by describing Hussle as a father and a son, comparing him in sharp contrast to Holder.
“The defendant in this case was also an aspiring rapper – not nearly as successful, not nearly as respected and the two didn’t really have a lot in common,” Deputy District Attorney John McKinney told the jury. “They were two men whose arcs in life were bending in two different directions. The one thing they did have in common was their roots.”
McKinney described the gang activity that Hussle was once involved in as a young man and that Holder allegedly remains in. He said that understanding gang culture is vital to understanding the final encounter between the two men.
Witnesses, including the woman who drove Holder from the scene, are expected to describe a conversation between Holder and Hussle that apparently had to do with rumors about “snitching,” before Holder allegedly fatally shot Hussle 10 times.
L.A. County deputy public defender Aaron Jansen said in his opening statement Wednesday that his client was Hussle’s killer.
However, he told the jury that it was Holder’s passionate response to the “snitching” accusations against Hussle and was not premeditated.
“This is a case about the heat of passion,” said Jansen. “The provocative act in this case was that Nipsey Hussle made an accusation against Mr. Holder that he was a snitch.”
Jansen said that the first-degree charge for premeditated murder should instead be “voluntary manslaughter.”
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