Nipsey Hussle's killer to serve at least 60 years in prison

Eric Holder Jr was found guilty of the first-degree murder of the hip-hop artist in 2019

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A Los Angeles judge on Wednesday sentenced the man convicted of gunning down Nipsey Hussle to 60 years to life in prison.

The verdict came after the judge heard testaments about the great loss caused by death of the hip-hop star and neighbourhood leader, and of the lifetime of mental illness, abuse and struggles of the man who shot him.

Superior Court Judge H Clay Jacke II down the sentence to Eric R Holder Jr, who was found guilty of the 2019 first-degree murder of Hussle, 33.

The Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist was gunned down outside the clothing store he founded, the Marathon, in the South Los Angeles neighbourhood where both men grew up in very similar circumstances.

“I am very mindful of what was presented as to Mr Holder’s mental health,” Mr Jacke said. “I am also mindful of the devastation caused to the victims and their families. I believe this sentence balances the two.”

After the month-long trial, jurors in July also convicted Holder of two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter and two counts of assault with a firearm, after two other men at the scene were shot but survived.

Mr Jacke sentenced Holder to 25 years to life for the murder, 25 for a firearm sentencing enhancement and 10 for assault with a firearm.

He set other additions and ordered that others were served concurrently. He also gave Holder credit for the nearly four years he had served since the shooting.

Holder, in orange jail attire, stared straight ahead throughout the proceedings and did not react when the sentence was read.

He spoke only to tell the judge that he understood the circumstances when he was asked.

In an impact statement before the sentencing, Herman “Cowboy” Douglas, a close friend of Hussle who was standing with him when he was killed and testified during the trial, said the killing was a tremendous loss for him personally and for the South Los Angeles community where Hussle was a business leader and inspiration.

People mourn the death of Nipsey Hussle outside his Marathon clothing store in Los Angeles on April 7, 2019. Reuters

“Nipsey was my friend, he was like a son, he was like a dad,” Mr Douglas said.

“Our community right now, we lost everything, everything we worked for. One man’s mistake, one man’s action, messed up a whole community.”

Mr Douglas said Hussle's shop and surrounding businesses that he owned and supported have been closed down, meaning “the Homies don’t have nothing to do”.

“I don’t care what you give this guy," he told Mr Jacke. "It ain’t about the time. I just want to know why. The world wants to know why. Why someone would do that?”

Actress Lauren London, who was Hussle’s partner and the mother of his two young children, did not attend any part of the trial, neither did any of his relatives, and none gave impact statements.

Hussle, whose legal name is Ermias Asghedom, and Holder had known each other for years growing up as members of the Rollin' 60s in South LA.

Both were aspiring rappers but Holder never found the same success as Hussle, who would become a local hero and a national celebrity.

The evidence against Holder was so overwhelming — from witnesses and surveillance cameras from local businesses that captured his arrival, the shooting and his departure — that his lawyer conceded during trial that he had shot Hussle.

But Holder's lawyer Aaron Jansen told jurors that the heated circumstances of the shooting meant a lesser verdict of voluntary manslaughter was merited.

The jury returned with the first-degree murder verdict after about six hours of deliberations.

A year after his death, Hussle was mourned at a memorial at the arena then known as the Staples Centre, and celebrated in a performance at the Grammy Awards that included DJ Khaled and John Legend.

Updated: February 22, 2023, 10:22 PM