Bryannita Nicholson had no idea Nipsey Hussle had been shot — even as she drove the man who killed the beloved LA rapper away from the scene.
Nicholson had met the man in her passenger seat, Eric Holder Jr., just a month earlier when she picked him up in the same Chevy Cruze while driving for Lyft.
The 35-year-old caretaker and fellow passenger didn’t consider Holder a “friend,” but she said the two had been intimate “every other day” for weeks, meeting at the Santa Monica Pier on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and at a home music studio in Long beach
But they had never been to South LA together. It wasn’t until March 31, 2019 as they pulled into the Marathon Clothing parking lot. Nicholson said she noticed Hussle standing in the parking lot, shouted, “He’s fine, I want to take a picture with him,” and ran over to take a selfie a few minutes later.
It wouldn’t be long before Hussle was dying. At the same time, Holder was stewing in Nicholson’s car on a drive to Long Beach. It would be hours before Nicholson learned that she was involved in one of the most notorious murders in recent Los Angeles history.
On Monday and Tuesday, Nicholson gave the jurors in Holder’s murder trial their only insight into his actions immediately before and after Hussle’s assassination. Although Holder has already admitted to killing the musician, Nicholson’s testimony could prove crucial as the jury tries to determine the shooter’s mental state and decide whether to convict him of murder or manslaughter.
Holder, a member of the Rollin 60s Crip gang who was last based in Long Beach, faces a de facto life sentence if convicted of murder and attempted murder for killing Hussle and wounding two other men. Assistant Public Defender Aaron Jansen has argued his client is only guilty of first degree manslaughter for becoming irrational after Hussle told him he heard a rumor that Holder was “snooping”.
Although other witnesses have testified that Hussle tried to help Holder and warned him about the rumor because such gossip could prove fatal to a member of the Crips gang, Nicholson said she heard Holder Hussle asked if he had ever whistled. Hussle was teased, but never aggressive, according to Nicholson.
Authorities have never clarified whether either Hussle or Holder ever served as an informant.
When Hussle and Holder finished talking, Nicholson said she and Holder got in their car to leave. She wanted to go home to Long Beach, but Holder insisted that she stop so he could finish eating the meal he ordered from a burger joint in Hussle’s Strip Mall. According to Nicholson, as they drove on Slauson Avenue, Holder began loading bullets into a pistol.
“I thought, ‘What are you doing? If you put that away, you won’t shoot anything outside my car,” she said Tuesday.
Nicholson said she pulled into a parking lot that led into an alleyway next to the mall. Holder didn’t seem upset or angry, she said, but told her to wait for him, then got out.
Out of Nicholson’s sight, Holder returned to the parking lot and opened fire with a pistol and revolver, shooting Hussle 10 times, prosecutors said. The bullets pierced the rapper’s head, torso and spine, and he died a short time later.
Nicholson said she heard two gunshots and saw a man running from the parking lot. She said Holder soon ran back to her car, ordered her to drive and threatened to hit her for asking questions. Although she had seen Holder in her car with firearms minutes earlier, she told jurors she did not believe he shot anyone or that Hussle was injured.
The two had a long, smooth drive back to Long Beach, Nicholson said. He didn’t want to say a word about what had happened.
Hours later, Nicholson said, she saw a news report of Hussle’s death. Still, she didn’t blame Holder.
“I was just like, ‘Oh my god, I was just there, how was he shot,'” she said. “I was like I heard the gunshots or whatever, but I didn’t think like Eric did it or anything.”
That night, Holder asked to stay with her. By that time, Nicholson said, she had posted the picture she took with Hussle to social media, and people were asking if she was there when he was killed. Around the same time, social media posts had surfaced online linking Holder to the crime.
“I asked him again about the social media thing when I saw this one and he didn’t say too much. He just brushed it off,” Nicholson said, adding that Holder then smoked some marijuana and went to sleep.
The next morning, Nicholson said, she helped Holder get a hotel room and went to work. Not long after, Nicholson received a call from her mother—her car was in the news in reports of Hussle’s murder.
Nicholson quickly turned himself in to police and spent five hours being questioned by Los Angeles cops. Holder was arrested in Bellflower the next day. Jansen said his client tried to check into a psychiatric facility.
Prosecutors have granted Nicholson immunity in the case, although the terms of her deal would be null and void if a judge found she lied on the witness stand.
Deputy Dist. atty John McKinney could close the prosecution’s case against Holder as early as Wednesday. Jansen has declined to tell reporters which witnesses he plans to call in Holder’s defense. The case could be in the hands of a jury by the end of the week.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-06-22/how-a-lyft-driver-became-the-unwitting-getaway-driver-in-nipsey-hussle-slaying How a Lyft driver became the unwitting getaway driver in Nipsey Hussle’s slaying