Key witness to Nipsey Hussle murder pressed for mistakes
A lawyer for the man tried for killing rapper Nipsey Hussle pressed the woman who says she served as an unwitting getaway driver over errors in the testimony she gave for the prosecution, asking on Tuesday whether she was lying or simply wrong.
Bryannita Nicholson testified on Monday that she had no idea her friend Eric Holder knew Hussle when they bumped into the hip-hop star outside her Los Angeles clothing store in March 2019, and had no idea Holder had returned to shoot Hussle while she waited in her car in a nearby alley before chase him away.
Holder pleaded not guilty to first degree murder and two counts of attempted first degree murder due to two bystanders who were hit by gunfire.
Holder’s attorney, Assistant District Attorney Aaron Jansen, did not deny that his client was the shooter, but suggested there was no pre-mediation as required by the prosecution at first degree. He said intentional homicide was more appropriate.
During his cross-examination of Nicholson on Tuesday, Jansen dwelt on errors and discrepancies in Nicholson’s testimony based on video recovered from the crime scene and his statements to authorities and grand jurors in court. 2019.
The video shown in court contradicts Nicholson’s testimony that Holder got out of his car and rushed to Hussle immediately as they pulled into the parking lot. Instead, it shows Holder walking calmly to a nearby burger joint and, a few minutes later, crossing the parking lot to Hussle.
“That was incorrect, wasn’t it?” Jansen asked.
“I saw that in the video,” Nicholson replied.
“But you weren’t lying, you just made a mistake?” Jansen said, a line he used many times.
“I was parking at the time, so I really didn’t know,” she replied, “I just thought he went to him first, because I was talking about going to him to take a photo.”
Surveillance video also showed that a truck that Holder put a bag of chili fries on when he returned to the mall was white, not red, as Nicholson had previously said.
“You didn’t lie that it was a red or burgundy truck, did you?” said Janssen. “You just made a mistake.”
His questioning remained polite, and Nicholson remained unfazed, saying such mistakes were inevitable in a trial – delayed by the pandemic and other factors – that has taken so long to arrive.
“Well, that was three years ago, so I guess I mixed the colors,” Nicholson said. “I wasn’t lying.”
Jansen was unable to undermine the central elements of Nicholson’s account, but did all he could to poke holes in the reliability of the memory of a key prosecution witness.
Jansen has often referred to Nicholson’s immunity agreement, which protects her from any crimes related to the shooting except perjury.
“Are you still in compliance with your agreement then?” he asked after asking Nicholson to point out the errors. She answered “yes” every time.
The prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney John McKinney, had sought to preclude the line of defense from the interrogation by showing Nicholson the videos during his interrogation and having him acknowledge the errors.
The defense also pointed to discrepancies in Nicholson’s testimony at trial and her 2019 grand jury testimony about the conversation she overheard between Holder and Hussle about “snitching.”
When asked in court if Hussle told Holder he needed to “chill out,” she said “no.”
Jansen read the grand jury transcript, in which Nicholson testified, “Nipsey was just like, like, ‘cool,’ like, ‘no, no,’ like that to Eric.”
Jansen made Nicholson admit that she was just close enough to hear the men talking for less than a minute and that she wasn’t really paying attention as she waited to take a picture with Hussle, of whom she was a big fan.
She also admitted that she had never seen any signs of violence in Holder, although he said he ‘should slap her’ when he returned to the car after the shooting and told her to drive. .
Hussle, a 33-year-old father of two whose legal name was Ermias Ashgedom, had just been nominated for a Grammy for his major-label debut album after years of underground success when he was killed.
Follow AP Entertainment writer Andrew Dalton on Twitter: https://twitter.com/andyjamesdalton