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, his lawyer confirms to Rolling Stone.
Eric Holder Jr., 32, was beaten up at some point after he left a Los Angeles courtroom around 4 p.m. Monday.
“[He] was attacked by two inmates and beaten. He was cut with a razor in the back of his head and received three staples. His face is swollen and his eye is swollen,” Holder’s public defender, Aaron Jansen, tells Rolling Stone.
Despite the injuries, Holder is expected back in court Wednesday morning for the expected last day of evidence in his trial, the lawyer says. Closing arguments with cameras allowed in the courtroom are due to begin Thursday, Jansen says.
Photo of Eric Holder Jr.'s injuries after what his lawyer described as an in-custody beating by fellow inmates Tues.
Holder is accused of murdering Nipsey Hussle in South L.A. in March 2019.
Jurors deliberated 5 hrs Friday. Lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter on the table. pic.twitter.com/SEfDzhqBbf
— Nancy Dillon (@Nancy__Dillon) July 1, 2022
When Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge H. Clay 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 received a call saying otherwise.
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 he was shot at least ten times. He was struck with bullets in his head and torso and suffered a severed spine, prosecutors say.
According to witness testimony, Hussle made an unannounced visit to his store the day of the attack 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 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 has pleaded not guilty to Hussle’s murder as well as the attempted murder of two other men allegedly struck by his gunfire. His defense has centered on the hope jurors will reduce the murder charge to manslaughter.
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. 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.
This post was updated on July 1, 2022, with a tweet showing Eric Holder Jr.’s injuries. The photo was taken by his public defender, Aaron Jansen.