A man was convicted of first-degree murder Wednesday in the shooting death of Nipsey Hussle outside the hip-hop artist's South Los Angeles clothing store.
The panel spent just over a half-hour in deliberations Wednesday, following nearly five hours of discussions last Friday.
Eric Ronald Holder Jr., 32, was charged with murder for the March 31, 2019, killing of the 33-year-old rapper, whose real name was Ermias Joseph Asghedom. Holder's attorney has acknowledged that the defendant shot and killed Nipsey, but urged jurors to find him guilty on a lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter because he was acting in the "heat of passion."
The Los Angeles County jury also found Holder Jr. guilty of two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter for gunfire that hit other men at the scene.
Get Southern California news, weather forecasts and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC LA newsletters.
Prosecutors had sought two counts of attempted murder. Holder also was found guilty of two counts of assault with a firearm on the same men.
Holder could get life in prison when he's sentenced on Sept. 15.
Closing arguments wrapped up Thursday with prosecutors portraying the relationship Nipsey had with the South Los Angeles neighborhood that was home to his Marathon clothing store.
“This man was different,” Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney John McKinney told jurors. "He wanted to change the neighborhood. He kept the same friends. And the neighborhood loved him. They called him Neighborhood Nip.”
Holder and Nipsey grew up with connections to the same South LA gang, the Rollin' 60s, the prosecutor said.
“He was no longer a gangbanger. He was a world-known recording artist and so much more,” the prosecutor said. “It really is a shame that his life was so brutally and coldly taken, on his own property, in his own neighborhood, by someone from his own gang. By somebody that he considered a friend.”
A similar case was made in Holder's defense.
Defense attorney Aaron Jansen said the shooting happened after a conversation in which Nipsey told Holder there were rumors of his role as an informant to authorities.
"That heat of passion consisted of being called publicly a snitch by someone as famous as Nipsey Hussle," Jansen said. "This is a provocation that stirs up rage and powerful emotion."
Jansen said gang life was behind Holder by 2019, adding that he had not visited the neighborhood where he grew up in years and only stopped at the strip mall where Nipsey's store was located for some food.
The two men had a conversation that intensified with an accusation, he said.
“This was a serious accusation that someone of Nipsey Hussle’s stature was making against little Eric Holder Jr., who had just come into the neighborhood to get his chili-cheese fries," Jansen said.
Prosecutors downplayed the 'snitch' accusation motive. They described the exchange as calm without any indication of hostility.
“I submit to you that the motive for killing Nipsey Hussle had little or nothing to do with the conversation they had,” McKinney said. “There was already a preexisting jealousy or envy.”
The trial included surveillance and police body-camera images of the shooting and stip mall area that was used to illustrate a narrative of the day. Video from a nearby parking lot showed the moment Holder appeared with guns and Nipsey collapsed to the ground.
Holder had left the scene for about 10 minutes before returning and opening fire. McKinney told jurors that it was plenty of time for premeditation as defined by the law.
“He thought about it and he did it,” McKinney said. “That’s all premeditated means. It doesn’t mean he planned it for weeks.”
Jansen countered that it was “a short period of time for such a serious, life threatening provocation."
“Clearly, emotions did not have time to clear in that short an amount of time,” the defense attorney said. "There was no cooling off period. There was no time to reflect.”
He even said the fact that Holder kicked Nipsey in the head while he was on the ground is evidence that the lesser charge is more apt.
“That shows rage,” Jansen said. “That shows heat of passion.”