On Wednesday, July 6, a jury convicted Eric Ronald Holder Jr., 32, of 1st-degree murder, and five other charges, in the 2019 fatal shooting of hip-hop artist/entrepreneur Nipsey Hustle (Ermias Joseph Asghedom). He sat stoic in court as the verdict was read. He was also found guilty of possession of a firearm as a felon and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon. Holder and Hustle were both reportedly members of the Rolling 60s Crips.
“The video is absolutely essential because it takes away any argument that he didn’t do it,” explained Deputy District Attorney John McKinney.
Surveillance video places Holder at the precise location and time of the shooting, and his court-appointed attorney as well as numerous witnesses identified him as the shooter, therefore whether he was guilty or not was not really in question; however, his attorneys argued his intent, in an effort to have him charged with a lesser crime, with a smaller sentence. He reportedly fired semi-automatic pistols, striking Hustle 10 times, and bystanders, Kerry Lathon and Shermi Villanueva were also injured.
“You’re through,” Holder allegedly shouted prior to firing and killing Hustle.
Prosecutors determined that, amid rumors, Hustle had claimed that Holder was a government informant, prompting him to pay him a visit at Hustle’s store, Marathon Clothing, at the corner of Crenshaw Boulevard and Slauson Avenue, in Crenshaw, to question him.
During trial, Bryannita Nicholson, who was dating Holder then, was granted immunity from prosecution, testified that she drove Holder to and from the murder scene that day, and shared some incriminating details, describing the two men as initially speaking calmly before a dispute ensued. Holder then headed to his car nearby, loaded his guns, nibbled on some fries, then stormed after Hustle in his own parking lot.
“It just seemed like a regular conversation,” McKinney said in court. “But obviously it wasn’t.” He described them as “two men whose arcs in life were bending in different directions.”
Holder’s court-appointed attorney, Aaron Jameson, claimed that the shooting occurred as a “crime of passion,” and was not premeditated, arguing that “he should’ve been charged with voluntary manslaughter.”
Holder is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 15, where Jameson will ask the judge to consider his client’s mental health history, including a year-long schizophrenic disorder.
“The verdict and the story of [Nipsey’s] life will be talked about for sure at Crenshaw and Slauson,” McKinney stated, “but the meaning of it will carry far beyond those streets.”