Trial begins for Nipsey Hussle’s alleged killer

Entertainment

LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 24: Nipsey Hussle performs onstage at Live! Red! Ready! Pre-Show, sponsored by Nissan, at the 2018 BET Awards at Microsoft Theater on June 24, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for BET)

LOS ANGELES (NewsNation) — The jury trial of a suspect charged with killing rapper Nipsey Hussle began Thursday in a Los Angeles courtroom.

Eric Holder Jr., 32, is accused of shooting the Grammy-nominated artist in March of 2019 in the parking lot of a Los Angeles clothing store owned by Hussle. Holder allegedly shot Hussle after an argument and then fled in a waiting car.

Holder was arrested after a two-day manhunt after a woman — who authorities say was the getaway driver — turned herself in to police. She was released without being arrested and he has pleaded not guilty.

LOS ANGELES, CA – APRIL 04: Eric Ronald Holder Jr., 29, who is accused of killing of rapper Nipsey Hussle, appears for arraignment with his Attorney Christopher Darden (R) on April 4, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. The Grammy-nominated artist, Nipsey Hussle, was gunned down in broad daylight in front of The Marathon Clothing store he founded in 2017 on the day he was scheduled to meet with Los Angeles Police Department brass to discuss ways of stopping gang violence. (Photo by Patrick Fallon-Pool/Getty Images)

Holder faces one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Proceedings were previously delayed because of a court shutdown over the coronavirus.

The 33-year-old rapper, whose real name was Ermias Asghedom, was an Eritrean-American father of two who was engaged to actress Lauren London. He was a beloved figure for his philanthropic work that went well beyond the usual celebrity “giving back” ethos. Following his death, political and community leaders were as effusive in their praise as his fellow hip-hop artists.

The rapper was also a wildly popular figure among professional athletes, especially those based in Los Angeles, where he was a regular on the sidelines. Players admired him for his community building.

After years of selling his highly popular mixtapes out of his car trunk, Hussle broke through in 2018 with “Victory Lap.” His critically-acclaimed, major-label debut album on Atlantic Records earned him his first Grammy nomination, though he lost out to Cardi B’s “Invasion of Privacy.”

Rapper Slim Thug called Hussle’s music “timeless.”

Hussle purchased the strip mall where his clothing store is located and planned to redevelop it into a mixed-use commercial and residential complex. The plan was part of Hussle’s broader ambitions to remake the neighborhood where he grew up and attempt to break the cycle of gang life that lured him in when he was younger.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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