The jury has been selected for the murder trial of the suspect accused of fatally shooting LA native and Grammy-winning rapper Nipsey Hussle.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge H. Clay Jacke II ordered the 12-person panel to return to the downtown Los Angeles courthouse Wednesday, when opening statements are tentatively expected to begin in Eric Ronald Holder Jr.'s trial.
The judge has said he wants six alternate jurors to be chosen in case any of the jurors have to be replaced, with a new batch of prospective alternate jurors in court Tuesday morning for questioning.
Eric Holder Jr., 32, was charged in 2019 with one count of murder, two
counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon in the killing, prosecutors said. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
"One of the things I want the jurors to understand is that I believe the case is overcharged," said his attorney, Aaron Jansen. "I don't believe that the charges brought against Mr. Holder are going to hold up. I know people have made up their minds and seen the videos but we are confident that when they hear the whole thing, he'll have a fair trial."
Nipsey Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, was killed on March 31, 2019, outside his clothing store in South Los Angeles. He was 33. Two other men also were wounded in the attack.
Holder fled the scene and was arrested in Bellflower, prosecutors said. If convicted as charged, he faces a possible maximum sentence of life in state prison, officials said.
Among the witnesses set to appear in the trial is Hussle's friend and fan Herman "Cowboy" Douglas. The trial is expected to take up to four weeks.
Hussle accused the suspect of being a snitch minutes before the man allegedly used two handguns to kill him and wound two other men, according to an unsealed transcript of a grand jury hearing.
"Nipsey was like, 'Man, you know, they got some paperwork on you, you know. I haven’t read it, you know. Like you my bro, you know. Like maybe you need to take care of that, you know,'" one witness told the grand jury in early May of 2019.
The witness explained that Hussle's words were a warning to Holder but said he didn't know what was behind it. When asked whether Hussle identified specifically what Holder supposedly snitched about, the witness did not provide details, according to the documents.
Police have said the shooting in front of businesses Hussle owned was the result of a personal dispute between the men. During the grand jury hearing, prosecutors drew out a significant amount of testimony that showed Holder was a gang member and had been seen carrying two handguns similar to those used in the killing: a silver revolver and a black semi-automatic.
Hussle was shot at least 10 times, with rounds piercing his lungs and severing his spinal cord, according to testimony from a medical examiner who reviewed the autopsy. Police found eight expended casings from a .40 pistol at the scene, and six bullets were pulled from Hussle's body.
Another witness said Holder uttered the words to Hussle, "You're through," during the shooting, and said he heard Hussle try to say a name after he’d been fatally wounded.
Hussle's killing shocked the nation.
Crowds gathered around the philanthropist's Marathon clothing store. Fans lined up for a memorial service at Staples Center where a letter was read from former President Barack Obama, who never met the rapper but whose daughters were fans.
"While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and only see gangs, bullets and despair, Nipsey saw potential. He saw hope,…" Karen Civil said as she read from the letter.
In the fall of 2019, Hussle's family set up the Neighborhood Nip Foundation to honor his ties to his community. Since then, Hussle has been memorialized on murals across LA and has received praise for his music and honored for being an activist.
Editor's note: this story has been updated to include a statement from the suspect's defense attorney.