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Rapper accused suspected killer of being a ‘snitch’

LOS ANGELES — The man accused of killing rapper Nipsey Hussle and wounding two other men in South Los Angeles used two guns to fire multiple shots shortly after a conversation that included allegations of “snitching,” a prosecutor told a grand jury, according to transcripts released June 27.

Deputy District Attorney John McKinney told the grand jury that Eric Ronald Holder Jr. walked up to a group including Hussle — whose real name was Ermias Joseph Asghedom — and the ensuing discussion “had something to do with Mr. Asghedom accusing Mr. Holder of snitching, which in the gang world is a very serious offense.”

“Apparently the conversation had something to do with Mr. Asghedom telling Mr. Holder that word on the street was that Mr. Holder was snitching. The conversation wasn’t particularly intense, it wasn’t particularly belligerent, and it lasted for about four minutes,” the prosecutor told the grand jury, while noting later that the conversation was “enough that it moved Eric Holder to a point of wanting to return to the parking lot and kill Nipsey Hussle.”

After the conversation outside Hussle’s South Los Angeles clothing store, Holder got into a car with a woman he had been dating and they drove away, the prosecutor told the grand jury. Holder then pulled out a gun, told the woman to drive around the block then put on a shirt and returned to the parking lot about six minutes later, according to the prosecutor.

“He walked back off toward the parking lot where he then walked up to within a couple feet of Mr. Asghedom and fired multiple rounds into him from two different guns,” McKinney told the grand jury. He said one of the weapons was a semiautomatic handgun and the other was a revolver.

“Mr. Holder was firing with two different handguns trading between his right hand and his left hand and then he made his way out of the alley back to the car, which then took off,” the deputy district attorney told grand jurors.

Holder is accused of fatally shooting the 33-year-old Hussle at about 3:20 p.m. March 31 in front of the Marathon Clothing store the singer owned in the 3400 block of West Slauson Avenue in Hyde Park. Two other men also were wounded in the attack, though only one of them was hospitalized.

The prosecutor said there was “no reason to believe that Eric Holder had any particular animosity” toward the other two men who were wounded.

After the shooting, Holder allegedly went back to the car containing the female motorist — who had earlier taken a photo with the rapper and allegedly heard Holder say something about snitching — and threatened to slap her if she didn’t drive away, the prosecutor said. Holder refused to answer any of her questions, McKinney said.

The woman — identified in the transcripts only as “Witness #1” — “heard Holder say to the rapper something along the lines of “So you’ve never snitched? or “You haven’t snitched?” according to the prosecutor.

The prosecutor noted that a “video almost tells the entire story,” with a Los Angeles police detective testifying that a video clip shows Holder allegedly kicking the rapper in what appears to be the head after the shooting.

The detective testified that one of the other victims told police he heard the rapper say, “You got me” as he was being shot, according to the grand jury transcripts.

Deputy Medical Examiner Lawrence Nguyen told the grand jury the rapper suffered 11 gunshot wounds, although two of the wounds could have been caused by the same bullet, according to the transcripts.

The grand jury indictment, handed up May 9, charges the 29-year-old Holder with one count each of murder and possession of a firearm by a felon and two counts each of attempted murder and assault with a firearm, along with the allegations that he personally and intentionally discharged a firearm and caused great bodily injury and death. It also includes two assault charges involving the same victims named in the attempted murder counts.

The transcripts — which had been sealed since the indictment was returned — were ordered unsealed by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry as a result of a request by the Los Angeles Times.

“I do not expect, frankly, that a fair trial will be beyond our reach,” the judge said.

The judge noted that “we live in a society that is moving away from the printed page,” while urging the prosecutor to “keep a lid on the videos.”

Holder’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Lowynn Young, had objected to the transcripts being released, arguing it could affect her client’s right to a fair trial.

The judge had agreed at a June 5 hearing to temporarily keep the documents sealed because he wanted to hear more from attorneys on all sides.

At a court hearing May 10, a judge appointed the Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office to represent Holder following the withdrawal of Chris Darden — a former prosecutor best known for his work in the O.J. Simpson murder trial — as his attorney.

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Holder got into a personal dispute with Hussle outside the store, then left and returned with a handgun.

Hussle was shot in the head and body and died at a hospital, according to police and the coroner’s office.

The police chief declined to discuss the nature of the disagreement between Holder and Hussle but stressed the shooting appeared to be a result of that dispute, not any type of gang rivalry or feud.

“We believe this to be a dispute between Mr. Hussle and Mr. Holder,” Moore said. “I’m not going to go into the conversations, but it appears to be a personal matter between the two of them.”

Holder was arrested by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies about 1 p.m. April 2 in the 9000 block of Artesia Boulevard in Bellflower after a witness called authorities to report seeing a person believed to be Holder.

The aspiring rapper — who is being held in lieu of $6.53 million bail — could face a maximum of life in prison if convicted as charged, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Hussle transformed himself from a South Los Angeles gang member to a rap musician and channeled his success into efforts to help others stay out of gangs. He bought shoes for students, re-paved basketball courts and provided jobs and shelter for the homeless.

Hussle helped renovate a Mid-City roller rink and redeveloped the strip mall that housed his clothing shop, where he was fatally wounded.

Wave Wire Services