More than three years after the shooting of rapper Nipsey Hussle shook Los Angeles, the murder trial of the accused gunman began with opening statements Wednesday.
The Grammy-winning artist, whose real name was Ermias Asghedom, was gunned down outside his business, the Marathon Clothing store, in the Hyde Park neighborhood of South Los Angeles in March 2019.
He died of gunshot wounds to the head and torso. He was 33 at the time.
Eric Holder was identified as the suspect in the slaying the next day, with the Los Angeles Police Department indicating he had been involved in some type of personal dispute with Hussle.
The suspect was captured in Bellflower after a nearly 48-hour manhunt.
Holder was charged with a single count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possessions of a firearm by felon.
On Wednesday, prosecutor John McKinney told jurors that Holder was captured on surveillance footage standing in the parking lot and opening fire on the rapper.
McKinney alleged that Holder first ran away from Hussle’s bullet-riddled body, but then came back a few more times to continue shooting him before fleeing the scene, gun in hand.
“He was shot, literally, from the bottom of his feet to the top of the head,” McKinney said of Hussle, adding that the rapper suffered ten gunshot wounds.
After the Hussle’s killing, a large memorial grew outside the Marathon Clothing store as community members mourned the rapper who had become a pillar of the community through his civic work and philanthropy in South L.A.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets for his funeral procession across South L.A. and Inglewood.
Hussle had made a name for himself as a community activist and entrepreneur in South L.A., where he offered jobs to struggling residents and was working to bring economic development to the blocks around Slauson and Crenshaw Boulevard.
The rapper had purchased the strip mall where he was shot, and planned to redevelop it into a commercial and residential complex.
He was also scheduled to meet with LAPD Chief Michel Moore to talk about addressing gang violence and helping youth in the community.
Hussle often spoke about coming of age as a member of the Rollin’ 60s Crips when he was younger.
On the day he was killed, Hussle was signing autographs and taking photos with fans at the strip mall when he was approached by Holder. The pair had a four-minute conversation before the topic turned to snitching, the Los Angeles Times reported in 2019.
“Apparently, the conversation had something to do with [Hussle] telling Mr. Holder that word on the street was that Mr. Holder was snitching,” McKinney told a grand jury in May 2019.
Soon after, officials say Holder returned and allegedly opened fire, hitting Hussle several times and wounding two others in the parking lot.
Holder, who has pleaded not guilty, faces up to life in prison if convicted as charged.
Holder’s defense attorney on Wednesday said the defendant should not be found guilty of first degree murder since he “acted under passion” after the rapper allegedly accused Holder of being a snitch.
“He was so enraged and triggered by this response, he acted without premeditating,” the defense attorney Aaron Jansen said. that’s what the evidence will show.”