The man who has admitted to killing rapper Nipsey Hussle in 2019 was attacked by two L.A. County jail inmates and slashed with a razor on his way to court this week, briefly delaying the trial, his attorney said.
Eric Holder Jr., 33, lost consciousness and needed three staples to close a wound in the back of his head after he was jumped in a holding cell while waiting to be taken to court Tuesday morning, according to his attorney, Aaron Jansen.
When jurors arrived in court Tuesday, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge H. Clay Jacke told them proceedings had been suspended due to an “unforeseen medical” incident involving Holder.
Holder was back in court Wednesday, but with staples visible in the back of his head and his face obscured by a covering for the first time in the trial.
Late Wednesday morning, Jansen told reporters in a courtroom hallway that his client had been attacked while in a holding cell alongside roughly 13 other inmates. Holder had his head down and was resting his eyes when he was hit from behind, Jansen said, adding that the men punched him and cut him with the razor.
Holder was taken to a hospital and suffered bruising and abrasions to his face in addition to the laceration, Jansen said.
The two assailants did not say anything to Holder, according to Jansen, and a motive for the attack was not immediately clear. Despite the incident, Jansen said his client was “OK” to continue the trial.
Both the prosecution and defense rested their cases Wednesday, and the case is expected to be in the hands of a jury by late Thursday.
Hussle was signing autographs and speaking to fans in the Crenshaw strip mall parking lot that housed his Marathon Clothing store when he had a conversation with Holder on March 31, 2019.
Both men are members of the Rollin 60s set of the Crips that has long dominated the neighborhood. Hussle told Holder there was a rumor that he had cooperated with a police investigation, the kind of gossip that quickly turns deadly in gang circles, according to testimony delivered at trial.
Holder came back moments later with two handguns and opened fire. Hussle was shot 11 times and died soon after. Two other men were also injured. Holder was arrested two days later, after the woman who served as his unwitting getaway driver turned herself in to police.
Jansen admitted Holder committed the killing during his opening statement two weeks ago, but he has argued his client should be convicted of manslaughter, not murder.
Hussle’s comments about snitching left Holder “so enraged and triggered” that he did not stop to consider his actions before opening fire, Jansen has argued. The attorney also said Holder had no intention to harm Kerry Lathan or Shermi Villanueva, the two men who were wounded in the shooting but survived.
If convicted as charged of murder and attempted murder, Holder would face a de facto life sentence.
Neither the district attorney’s office nor Deputy Dist. Atty. John McKinney, who is prosecuting the case, have commented on the attack on Holder. The jailhouse beatdown has not been mentioned in front of the jury, and McKinney scolded Jansen on Wednesday for discussing the attack with reporters in the courthouse, concerned jurors might overhear.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which runs the county’s jails and is responsible for Holder’s safety while in custody, has repeatedly refused to provide information about the attack. A Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman told a Times reporter Tuesday to file a public records request for any information about the assault.