The man accused of murdering celebrated rapper Nipsey Hussle was physically assaulted in custody and unable to attend his trial on Tuesday due to medical treatment for his injuries, a well-placed source tells Rolling Stone.
Eric Holder, 32, was beaten up at some point after he left a Los Angeles courtroom around 4 p.m. Monday. The incident followed a day in which Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge H. Clay Jacke worked with lawyers on both sides to hammer out jury instructions ahead of closing arguments and jury deliberations scheduled to start Wednesday, the source says.
It wasn’t immediately clear where the incident occurred, but Holder, a Rollin’ 60s gang member, is supposed to be kept away from other inmates when he’s transported to and from the court, considering the high-profile nature of his case. The extent of Holder’s injuries was also scarce Tuesday, but the source said he suffered more than a black eye.
When Judge Jacke excused the jury Tuesday morning, he left the door open to more than a single-day delay.
“Based on some unforeseen circumstances that are no fault of parties here, we won’t be in session today,” the judge said, telling jurors to return Wednesday unless they receive a call saying otherwise.
Outside the courtroom, defense lawyer Aaron Jansen said only that the delay was related to something “medical” but not Covid-related.
Holder is accused of murdering Hussle outside the 33-year-old Grammy Award-winning rapper, philanthropist, and father of two’s clothing store, The Marathon, on March 31, 2019.
A medical examiner was expected to testify Tuesday that Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, died after suffering at least ten gunshot wounds to his head and torso that severed his spine.
According to witness testimony, Hussle made an unannounced visit to his store that day and was approached by Holder in what appeared to be a chance encounter. The two men knew each other through their membership in the Rollin’ 60s gang, and Hussle allegedly warned Holder that a rumor was circulating that Holder had cooperated with law enforcement and needed to “take care of it.”
In his opening statement on June 15, Jansen said Holder believed Hussle accused him of “snitching,” a grave sin in gang culture.
“This is a case about the heat of passion,” Jansen told jurors, saying the evidence would show Holder became “so enflamed and enraged” by the alleged accusation that he opened fire “a mere nine minutes later” before he had time to “cool off.”
Prosecutors allege Holder showed no sign of aggression during the conversation and left the scene in a car that drove around the block one and half times with Holder eating chili cheese fries and loading a gun. The delay is critical to the claim Holder acted with premeditation when he later exited the vehicle, stalked back to the store and opened fire on Hussle with a black semiautomatic in one hand and a revolver in the other.
Holder also pleaded not guilty to the first-degree attempted murder of two other men who allegedly were struck by his gunfire.
A fourth man, who had been standing next to Hussle and escaped injury, defied a subpoena to testify in the case due to what a police witness described as the intense gang taboo against “snitching” in any capacity, even against an enemy.
Judge Jacke issued a bench warrant with $500,000 bail for the man, Evan “Rimpau” McKenzie, last week, making it clear the court wanted him to appear. However, the warrant was rescinded Tuesday after prosecutors said they no longer required his testimony, and Jansen had no objection.
Holder faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted. If court resumes Wednesday, Holder’s defense is expected to include two witnesses and take less than a day. Closing arguments could then proceed Thursday, a day later than previously planned.