Nipsey Hussle murder suspect pleads not guilty, defended by former O.J. Simpson prosecutor

The man suspected in the murder of 33-year-old Grammy-nominated rapper Nipsey Hussle outside his clothing store in South Los Angeles over the weekend pleaded not guilty on Thursday.

Eric Holder, 29, was charged earlier Thursday afternoon with one count of murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. He faces a potential life sentence if convicted. His attorney, Chris Darden, gained national fame as one of the prosecutors during the O.J. Simpson trial.

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Holder, an aspiring rapper and gang member, and Hussle knew each other and had several conversations Sunday outside the rapper's retail store. Holder eventually returned with a handgun, shot Hussle and wounded two other men, according to authorities.

Eric Holder, the suspect in the killing of rapper Nipsey Hussle, is seen in Los Angeles County Superior Court with his attorney Christopher Darden, left, on Thursday. (Associated Press)

Eric Holder, the suspect in the killing of rapper Nipsey Hussle, is seen in Los Angeles County Superior Court with his attorney Christopher Darden, left, on Thursday. (Associated Press)

Hussle managed to make a phone call to his older brother, Samiel, after taking multiple rounds of gunfire, the Los Angeles Times reported. Samiel recalled how he raced to the scene, arriving before the paramedics, to find his younger brother lying on the ground, blood staining his shirt, but still breathing.

He told the paper that in those final moments he thought his brother was meant to be alive.

Samiel said he performed CPR until paramedics arrived. As Hussle was being loaded into the ambulance, Samiel saw for the first time the gunshot wound on the back of his brother’s head, the paper reported. Hussle was declared dead at the hospital.

Hussle was a beloved figure in the community that he was seeking to rebuild, starting with his clothing store.

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Earning widespread praise for his philanthropic streak, Hussle employed mostly felons at his store whose criminal records made it more difficult to find work, the L.A. Times reported.

But felons are prohibited from carrying guns, a fact that Samiel believes allowed the gunman to shoot his brother multiple times.

“Because of that, the man was able to shoot my brother, start running, realize nobody out there had a gun, stop, turn back around, walk up, shoot my brother two more times, start to run, realize nobody had a gun, nobody was responding, ran back up and shot my brother three more times, shoot him in the head and kicked him in the head and then ran off,” Samiel told the paper.

An exhaustive manhunt went on for two days before authorities arrested Holder.

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Hussle, whose real name was Ermias Asghedom, had success in hip-hop's inner circles for 10 years through his coveted mixtapes.

Last year he broke big with his major-label debut album, "Victory Lap," which was nominated for a Grammy.

Fox News' Mariah Haas contributed to this report.