LOS ANGELES– Nipsey Hussle was a hip-hop star who sought to uplift his neighborhood with him until a friend on the same street shot him dead, a prosecutor said in closing arguments Thursday.
“This man was different,” Assistant Los Angeles County District Attorney John McKinney told jurors, seeking to humanize Hussle after two weeks of testimony dwelling on the technicalities surrounding the 2019 shooting. the neighborhood. He kept the same friends. And the neighborhood loved him. They called it Neighborhood Nip.
McKinney’s presentation came during the trial of Eric R. Holder Jr., who is charged with the first-degree murder of Hussle, 33, whose legal name was Ermias Asghedom.
Holder’s attorney, Aaron Jansen, admitted, as he did throughout the trial, that Holder shot and killed Hussle. But he argued to jurors at his own closing that they should find his client guilty of the lesser charge of intentional homicide because he was acting in the ‘fire of passion’ after a conversation in which Hussle told him that there were rumors that he informed the authorities. .
“That heat of passion was about being publicly called a snitch by someone as famous as Nipsey Hussle,” Jansen said, later adding, “It’s a provocation that stokes rage and powerful emotion.”
Both Hussle and Holder were rappers, one successful, the other unsuccessful, who grew up as members of the same South Los Angeles gang, the Rollin’ 60s, prosecutor McKinney said.
He showed jurors a photo, taken moments before the shooting, of Hussle squatting with a toddler wearing a shirt that read “Crenshaw,” purchased at Hussle’s South LA clothing store, The Marathon, in front of which they stand were holding.
“He was no longer a gangbanger. He was a world famous recording artist and so much more,” the prosecutor said. “It’s such a shame that his life was taken so brutally and coldly, on his own property, in his own neighborhood, by someone from his own gang. By someone he considered a friend.
Jansen painted a similar picture of Holder, saying he had grown beyond his young gang life and moved miles away.
“In 2019 he had the Rollin’ 60s completely in his rearview mirror,” Jansen said. “He was just living his life in Long Beach.”
Holder hadn’t been to the neighborhood he grew up in in years and only stopped at the Hussle Mall with a friend because he felt like eating at a favorite fast food joint. Jansen said he then found himself caught off guard.
“It was a serious accusation that someone of the stature of Nipsey Hussle leveled against little Eric Holder Jr., who had just walked into the neighborhood to get his chili cheese fries,” Jansen said.
He said that gave Holder reason to fear for his life and safety.
“What if he calls you a snitch in a song and names you?” said Janssen.
McKinney played down this apparent motive, calling it a calm conversation that was “in the nature of advice”, and saying no one who observed it thought there was any real hostility or imminent danger.
“I submit to you that the motive for the murder of Nipsey Hussle had little or nothing to do with the conversation they had,” McKinney said. “There was already a pre-existing jealousy or envy.”
There was no evidence to that effect during the trial, and the defense objected. The judge let the statement stand, but reminded the jurors to focus on the actual evidence from the trial.
McKinney used extensive surveillance and police body camera footage surrounding the shooting to guide jurors through a minute-by-minute account of the day.
He repeatedly showed video, taken by a camera across a parking lot, of when Holder appeared with guns and Hussle collapsed to the ground.
Holder was gone for about 10 minutes before coming back and shooting. McKinney told jurors there was plenty of time for premeditation as defined by law.
“He thought about it and he did it,” McKinney said. “These are all premeditated means. That doesn’t mean he planned it for weeks.
Jansen countered that it was “a short period of time for such a serious and potentially life-threatening provocation”.
“Obviously the emotions didn’t have time to dissipate in such a short time,” the defense attorney said. “There was no cooling off period. There was no time to think.”
He even said the fact that Holder kicked Hussle in the head while he was on the ground is proof that a lesser charge is more appropriate.
“It shows rage,” Jansen said. “It shows the heat of passion.”
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