Superior Court Judge H. Clay Jacke handed down the sentence Wednesday after hearing from one of Hussle’s friends and listening to a letter from Holder’s father that was read in court. Holder, dressed in orange jail attire, stared straight ahead throughout the proceedings and did not react when the sentence was read, and spoke only to tell the judge he understood the circumstances when he was asked.
“I am very mindful of what was presented as to Mr. Holder’s mental health,” Jacke said. “I am also mindful of the devastation caused to the victims and their families. I believe this sentence balances the two.”
Jacke sentenced Holder to 25 years to life for the murder, 25 more for a firearm sentencing enhancement and 10 for assault with a firearm. He set several other sentencing additions and ordered that others run concurrent. He also gave Holder credit for the nearly four years he has served since the shooting.
Jurors in a Los Angeles courtroom in July found Holder, 32, guilty of the first-degree murder of the 33-year-old Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist outside the clothing store Hussle founded, the Marathon, in the South Los Angeles neighborhood where both men grew up.
Holder was also convicted of two counts of attempted voluntary manslaughter and two counts of assault with a firearm for gunfire that hit two other men at the scene who survived.
The sentencing had been delayed in part so defense attorney Aaron Jansen could move for Judge Jacke to reduce Holder’s conviction to manslaughter or second-degree murder, which the judge rejected in December.
Jacke had a broad range of possibilities in sentencing Holder at the Wednesday hearing, but the murder conviction alone carries a term of 25 years to life. The other convictions, and special sentencing circumstances that jurors found true, made it almost certain Holder would spend the rest of his life in prison. Holder was not eligible for the death penalty.
“We hope that there is some resounding peace in the fact that his killer will be in prison likely for the rest of his life,” the lead prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney John McKinney, said after the verdict.
Lauren London, who was Hussle’s partner and the mother of his two young children, did not attend any part of the trial, nor did any of his relatives, and none are expected to give victim impact statements, as often happens at such hearings.
In an impact statement before the sentence was handed down, Herman “Cowboy” Douglas, a close friend of Hussle who was standing with him when he was killed and testified during the trial, told the judge that the killing was a tremendous loss both for him personally and for the South Los Angeles community where Hussle was a business leader, and an inspiration.
“Nipsey was my friend, he was like a son, he was like a dad,” said Douglas, who took off his black cowboy hat as he entered the courtroom and wore a sweatshirt with a picture of Hussle on the front. “Our community right now, we lost everything, everything we worked for. One man’s mistake, one man’s action, messed up a whole community.”
He told the judge: “I don’t care what you give this guy. It ain’t about the time. I just want to know why. The world wants to know why. Why someone would do that?”
The evidence against Holder was so overwhelming — from eyewitnesses to surveillance cameras from local businesses that captured his arrival, the shooting and his departure — that his attorney conceded during trial that he had shot Hussle.