Live updates on the Nipsey Hussle murder trial: Eric Holder Jr. found guilty of first-degree murder

Bryannita Nicholson stated that she drove Eric R. Holder Jr. in the shopping plaza where Nipsey Hussle was shot. After the murder, a crowd of people paid tribute to the mall. Credit … Rozette Rago for The New York Times

Bryannita Nicholson, who had been casually watching the defendant, Eric R. Holder Jr., testified that he had driven her to and from the scene of the shooting, providing one of the prosecution’s key accounts of the episode.

The day of the shooting had begun without any observation, he said. She and Mr. Holder had met a little over a month earlier, when she was driving part-time to Lyft and picked him up as a fare. In the weeks that followed, he said, they approached and were often driven by Mr. Holder during outings in Long Beach or Los Angeles, on the beach, on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Their relationship was casual, he said.

On the day of the shooting, Ms. Nicholson said, the couple was heading to an upcoming exchange meeting. Ms. Nicholson received immunity from prosecution for her testimony.

When Mrs. Nicholson entered a market square that day because Mr. Holder could buy cheese chips with chili, he said, he saw Nipsey Hussle in front of his store, Marathon clothing. He commented to Mr. Holder that he thought Hussle was handsome and that he wanted to take a picture with him. Mr. Holder did not indicate that he knew the neighborhood rapper, he said.

He approached Hussle, who was surrounded by a group of men, to take a selfie, he said. It would be the rapper’s last photograph.

Some witnesses have testified that Hussle had warned Mr. Holder circulating rumors that he had cooperated with law enforcement or that he had disappeared. Mrs. Nicholson testified that she had listened to Mr. Holder asked Hussle if he had gotten hooked, but that Hussle seemed to be rejecting him. He said he got back in the car and stopped in a nearby alley so Mr. Holder could eat, he said.

Mr. Holder then pulled out a pistol, which Mrs. Nicholson stated alarmed her, but had previously said she believed she had protective weapons.

Mr. Holder then got out of the car and left his chips on the hood of a nearby truck, he said. Shortly afterwards, Mrs. Nicholson said, she heard gunshots.

When Mr. Holder got back in his car, she testified, told him to drive or slap him. She stated that she did not realize at the time that he could have been the shooter. That night, she testified, she agreed to let Mr. Holder stay with her mother’s house with her, and later helped him check into a motel with his ID.

It wasn’t until more than a day after the murder, when her mother recognized Mrs. Nicholson’s white Chevy Cruze in the news, that she realized that Mr. Holder could have been involved, he said.

“I hoped it had nothing to do with it,” Ms. Nicholson told John McKinney, the prosecutor in the case, during her testimony. “I was nervous at the time.”

In his initial statement, Mr. McKinney had portrayed Mrs. Nicholson as a kind of unconscious accomplice.

“When Mrs. Nicholson testifies, pay attention to her,” he said. “I think you’ll find in her a naivete, a simplicity.”

Mr. McKinney stressed that Ms. Nicholson had quickly agreed to cooperate with police. He allowed authorities to access his phone data and underwent hours of interviews.

“I was thinking,‘ My God, that’s my reputation too, ’” he told the court.

Aaron Jansen, the public defender of Mr. Holder, asked Ms. Nicholson about some minor discrepancies between her previous accounts and those she gave at the stand: the color of a truck where Mr. Holder left his fries, if Hussle had told Mr. Holder “to, like, relax.” (Mrs. Nicholson responded that Hussle’s conduct had been “quiet” and said she had not instructed Mr. Holder to calm down.)

In the witness stand, Mrs. Nicholson answered questions primarily with a quiet “yes” or “I don’t know.” Mr. Holder, who wore a gray suit with a faint glass pattern, averted his gaze or looked at her dispassionately.

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