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California

O.J. Simpson prosecutor Darden representing suspect in Nipsey Hussle shooting

LOS ANGELES, CA APRIL 4, 2019: Chris Darden, right, former OJ Simpson prosecutor is representing
Eric Holder, appears in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom charged with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. At right is his attorney Chris Darden.
(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Eric Holder, the 29-year-old aspiring rapper who is accused of fatally shooting Nipsey Hussle on Sunday, was charged during a court appearance Thursday afternoon with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon.

His attorney, Chris Darden, entered a plea of not guilty in the tightly packed, heavily guarded downtown courtroom. Holder, clad in a light blue jail shirt and pants and shackled at the wrists, stood in a glassed enclosure and was flanked by several deputies. He leaned back slightly with his chin up, exposing an array of neck tattoos, and frequently glanced at onlookers. Holder has received numerous social media threats, and deputies noticeably scrutinized the courtroom.

After being questioned by Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Teresa T. Sullivan, Holder made a brief comment, agreeing to delay the next court proceeding until May 10. The judge set Holder’s bail at $5 million. Darden is best known as one of the prosecutors during the O.J. Simpson trial.

The criminal complaint, using his given name Eric Ronald Holder Jr., also includes allegations that Holder personally used a firearm and caused great bodily injury and death.

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Holder was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of killing Hussle and wounding two other people in the attack.

Inside the manhunt for suspect in Nipsey Hussle shooting »

Darden told reporters he had to get on a plane. Prosecutor John McKinney said it was his understanding that Darden had been privately retained for Holder.

Darden was one of the prosecutors in the Simpson trial, in which the former football star was acquitted of the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. But in the years since, Darden has worked as a defense attorney in murder cases.

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In the brief court appearance, Darden argued unsuccessfully to keep media cameras from filming his client during the arraignment hearing, saying he believed there was an “issue of identity.”

McKinney told the judge that Holder’s photograph had been widely disseminated in the media and that “identity won’t ultimately be an issue in this case.”

Outside court, McKinney declined to say whether detectives had recovered the handgun used in the shooting.

Hussle, a celebrated rapper and community activist, was outside his shop on Slauson Avenue when a man approached and opened fire. Hussle was fatally wounded, and two others were also shot. Police alleged Holder had gotten into a dispute with Hussle earlier in the day and returned with a gun and started shooting. He then fled in a waiting car, police said.

Graphic video from a surveillance camera shows a gunman walking up to Hussle and two other men in front of the shop. The gunman opens fire, and Hussle falls to the ground as the other men run from the gunfire.

Holder went by the moniker Fly Mac. His Instagram handle was “ima_god_in_da_streetz.” He sang of body bags, “38 gun blasts” and bloody homicides. Holder is believed to be a gang member, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said, but police do not believe the shooting had anything to do with gang rivalries.

Holder was convicted in 2012 of carrying a loaded firearm and was sentenced to 180 days in jail and three years of probation, court records show.

A two-day manhunt ended Tuesday when a resident in Bellflower told authorities a man matching the description of Holder was walking down Artesia Boulevard. Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies found Holder standing in the parking lot of a business.

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Confronted by deputies, he offered no resistance and surrendered without incident.

The woman who drove the getaway car turned herself in to authorities Monday and is continuing to cooperate with detectives. She has not been arrested, said Josh Rubenstein, the Los Angeles Police Department’s director of communications.

According to two sources familiar with the investigation, the woman has insisted to detectives that she never knew Holder intended to harm Hussle and became aware of the shooting only in the aftermath.

The role of the driver remains an issue of debate in the Hyde Park community where the shooting occurred.

Community activist Najee Ali is calling for the immediate arrest of the driver.


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