The accused killer of celebrated rap star Nipsey Hussle was forced to miss his murder trial on Tuesday, and early reports suggest it was because he got a strong dose of so-called “jail justice.”
Eric Ronald Holder Jr., who is currently on trial for the murder of Hussle in front of the rapper’s store in South Central Los Angeles more than three years ago, may or may not have gotten roughed up behind bars after he appeared in court on Monday.
But to let Holder’s lawyer tell it, the 32-year-old defendant was seriously injured after he was jumped by his fellow inmates at some point after leaving court on Monday afternoon.
“[He] was attacked by two inmates and beaten,” Holder’s public defender, Aaron Jansen, told Rolling Stone. “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.”
There’s no telling who the culprits are, but chances are the altercation stemmed from Holder’s alleged role in Hussle’s killing.
Not only was Holder a gang member with the Rollin’ 60s — with which Hussle was affiliated — but the rapper’s death came after Hussle insinuated that Holder was possibly perceived as a snitch.
The combination of the two is likely enough to compel a gang-related beating in jail.
It was not immediately clear if Holder is being held in protective custody, but his reported beating suggests otherwise. It was also not immediately clear if anyone had been held responsible for the alleged beating.
Despite the reported beating, Holder was still expected in court on Wednesday.
Holder’s murder trial got underway on June 16.
Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney John McKinney told the jury during opening arguments that there was “no doubt” Holder killed Hussle and knew in advance that he would do so. McKinney explained that Holder pulled out, “not one but two guns and starts shooting” after he and Hussle had a conversation about allegations of snitching.
According to the prosecutors, Hussle told Holder about rumors he had been “snitching” while the two were standing in front of the rapper’s Marathon clothing store on March 31, 2019. They claim that was when Holder left the parking lot only to return shortly after and gun down the famous rapper in a hail of bullets at close range. Prosecutors also played surveillance video showing Holder shooting from both his left and right hands, calling his actions an “explosion of violence.”
Hussle was “shot from literally the bottom of his feet to the top of his head,” prosecutors claimed. “He would have been a paraplegic if he survived because one bullet transected his spine.”
The defense agreed with prosecutors that Holder killed Hussle, but said the crime wasn’t planned and occurred in the “heat of passion.”
According to defense attorneys, Holder was “so enraged” about Hussle accusing him of being a snitch, that he returned to the scene and opened fire “without thinking” and that he “acted without premeditation.”
Holder’s lawyers also said the defendant was checked into a mental health clinic three days after the shooting.
The defense team said they were confident in their client being acquitted.
That confidence may have taken a hit last week when the woman who unwittingly acted as Holder’s getaway driver testified in court that she had no idea what she was getting herself into.
Bryannita Nicholson, who was given immunity for her testimony, told the court she drove Holder to a South Los Angeles shopping center, where they spotted Hussle. She said she was excited to see the rapper and mentioned to Holder she wanted to take a picture with him.
“I said, ‘Ooh, there goes Nipsey, he fine. I want to take a picture with him,” Nicholson testified.
Nicholson also told the court she didn’t know Hussle and Holder had a prior relationship from growing up in the same neighborhood.
Nicholson said Holder asked her to stop at the Master Burger restaurant, which was in the same shopping center as Hussle’s clothing store.
While Nicholson was looking for parking, Holder hopped out of the vehicle and approached Hussle, she said.
Nicholson testified that when she joined the conversation, Holder was talking to Nipsey with his voice raised, but not overly aggressive.
“Eric was asking Nipsey, ‘Did you tell somebody I snitched?’” Nicholson testified.
But Nicholson said she was focused on getting a selfie from the rap star to post on her Facebook. After she took the picture, she left the two men and headed back to the car to post the photo.
When Holder came back to her car, he told Nicholson to drive around the block. Once she complied, Holder pulled out a semi-automatic handgun and loaded the clip.
Nicholson then testified that she yelled at Holder to put the gun away and said he listened at first. He then told her to pull into an alley so he could eat. Holder took a few bites from his french fries, told Nicholson not to leave and said he’d be right back. She said she believed he was going into Hussle’s clothing store to buy a shirt.
Minutes later, Nicholson was startled by gunshots and saw an older man running away, she testified. Nicholson said she thought about pulling off but began to worry about Holder’s safety. Nicholson told the court that Holder appeared to be “power-walking” when he returned to her vehicle.
I was like, ‘What happened?’” Nicholson testified. “He said, ‘You talk too much I ought to slap you.’ And he was just like, ‘Drive! Drive!’”
Nicholson then drove Holder to his Long Beach home after the shooting. Later that day she would learn that Nipsey Hussle had been shot and killed and that Holder was the suspect.
Holder faces life in prison if convicted.
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