Nipsey Hussle shooting suspect Eric Holder charged with murder, pleads not guilty

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The man suspected of fatally shooting Nipsey Hussle outside the rapper's clothing store in Hyde Park was charged with murder and attempted murder Thursday and pleaded not guilty during his first court appearance.

Eric Holder, 29, was charged by the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

Holder pleaded not guilty as he stood behind his defense attorney, Christopher Darden, in court. He was ordered held on $5 million bail.

Darden, who gained nationwide fame as part of the prosecution team at O.J. Simpson's 1995 murder trial, did not dispute the bail amount, which the prosecution requested. Darden left right after the hearing. He would not comment about the case or how he became the defense attorney.

Darden argued before the hearing against allowing media outlets to shoot photos and video in the courtroom, saying that the prosecution has not established with certainty that they have the right person, and publicizing his image would interfere with Holder getting a fair trial.

Deputy District Attorney John McKinney argued that identity will not be an issue in the case, and said that Holder's photo had already been widely spread during the hunt for him.

Holder was arrested Tuesday in Bellflower after a two-day manhunt.

If convicted as charged, Holder faces a possible maximum sentence of life in state prison. He's expected to be back in court on May 10.

Police say Holder and Hussle had a discussion or argument in front of the Marathon clothing store Sunday. Holder left and then returned a short time later and started shooting, police say.

The suspect then fled the scene in a white 2016 Chevy Cruze with California license plate 7RJD742, with an unidentified woman as the getaway driver.

Hussle died Sunday afternoon of gunshot wounds to the head and torso, according to the Los Angeles County coroner's office.

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His body was released Tuesday by the coroner and picked up by a mortuary in preparation for the funeral.

The woman believed to be Holder's getaway driver turned herself in, ABC News reported. She has not been identified publicly. Sources say she spoke with detectives and then was allowed to leave. She has not been arrested at this point. She claims she didn't know what happened.

Outside Hussle's store, community activist Najee Ali held a news conference Thursday saying he and other activists want to know more about the woman in the vehicle.

"That woman is lying through her teeth. She's the getaway driver in the murder of Nipsey Hussle. The only reason why she turned herself in two days later is because her face and his face was plastered all over social media," Ali said.

The exact nature of the conflict between Hussle and the suspect was not clear. While Holder is described as a gang member, the motive is believed to be a personal dispute, not gang-related.

Hussle seemed to know trouble was coming. A short time before the shooting was reported, he tweeted: "Having strong enemies is a blessing."

Police said Hussle and the two other victims were standing outside the store in the parking lot when the shooting occurred.

The 33-year-old rapper, born Ermias Joseph Asghedom, grew up in Los Angeles. He was nominated for the best rap album Grammy this year for his studio debut "Victory Lap."

Hussle opened the clothing store in June 2017. He was described as someone who was working to improve the community where he grew up and had reached out to Los Angeles officials to work on ways to reduce gang violence.

The case remains under investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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