LOS ANGELES – A key prosecution witness in the trial of the man charged with rapper Nipsey Hussle’s killing testified Tuesday that she went to police when she learned her car was being sought by detectives, while acknowledging she had made errors in her testimony that a defense attorney pointed out was contradicted by surveillance video collected near the scene of the shooting.
Bryannita Nicholson — who testified that she drove Eric Ronald Holder Jr. to the South Los Angeles strip mall and later waited in a nearby alley at his request without knowing what he was doing — told the downtown Los Angeles jury in her second day on the stand that her mother called the police station and then instructed her to go to the police after watching a news report indicating that the license plate belonging to her Chevrolet Cruze was reported as a wanted vehicle.
She said she cooperated with a request by police for an interview that stretched to five hours, along with giving detectives consent to search her vehicle, her apartment and her mother’s apartment. She also later agreed to an immunity agreement in which she wouldn’t be prosecuted for any truthful testimony she provided, she said.
Under cross-examination by defense attorney Aaron Jansen, the woman agreed she was mistaken when she said that Holder immediately went over to Hussle near the rapper’s clothing store after getting out of her car the day of the March 31, 2019, shooting.
“You weren’t lying. You just made a mistake,” Jansen told the prosecution witness. “As soon as he left the car, he didn’t run over to where Nipsey was.”
“I saw it in the video,” she said of the surveillance footage that shows a shirtless Holder going into the nearby Master Burger before walking outside to talk with the rapper shortly before the shooting. “I was parking at the time so I really didn’t know.”
After seeing video surveillance showing a white truck, the woman also acknowledged that she had erred in saying that Holder — who had subsequently donned a red shirt — left his chili cheese fries on a red or burgundy truck when he walked down the alley toward the strip mall where he had talked minutes earlier with Hussle.
She testified Monday that Holder did not seem upset while speaking to the musician that day and that she did not suspect the defendant might be planning a shooting when she saw him loading bullets into a gun while in her vehicle soon after the conversation.
When asked Monday if she had “any thought, feeling or concern that he was going to do a shooting,” the woman responded, “No.”
She said she heard two gunshots while Holder was away from the vehicle and that Holder instructed her to “drive” after he returned. When she asked Holder what happened, he told her that she talked too much, the woman testified.
She said she subsequently tried to question him about social media posts about him after the shooting and got no response.
Testimony is set to continue Wednesday in the 32-year-old defendant’s trial.
Holder is charged with murdering the 33-year-old Hussle — whose real name was Ermias Joseph Asghedom — outside the rapper’s Hyde Park-area store.
An aspiring rapper, Holder is also charged with two counts of attempted murder and assault with a firearm involving two other people, along with one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. The charges include allegations that he personally and intentionally discharged a handgun and that he personally inflicted great bodily injury.
In his opening statement last week, Deputy District Attorney John McKinney said the rapper had told Holder there was word on the street that he had been “snitching,” but there was “no hostility” before Holder left the parking lot and then returned firing two guns soon afterward to the strip mall.
Hussle was struck by at least 10 and possibly 11 bullets in an “explosion of violence,” the prosecutor said, noting that the rapper was “shot from literally the bottom of his feet to the top of his head.”
Holder’s attorney conceded to jurors that his client “shot and killed” the rapper, but said the crime occurred in the “heat of passion.”
Holder was “so enraged” about the rapper’s accusation that he was a snitch that he returned nine minutes later “without thinking” and “acted without premeditation” in opening fire on him, Jansen told the panel.
Holder’s attorney noted that his client is charged with murder, but told jurors, “In fact, it should be voluntary manslaughter because he was acting in the heat of passion.” The defense lawyer said he is confident the panel will acquit his client of first-degree murder, along with the two attempted murder counts.
Holder surrendered himself at a mental health clinic in Bellflower three days after the shooting, according to his lawyer.
He has remained behind bars since then.