SANTA BARBARA — A decade after the cold-blooded killing of 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz in the Santa Barbara foothills, Jesse James Hollywood was finally sentenced this month to life without possibility of parole.
The 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz had been kidnapped from his West Hills neighborhood and driven to the Santa Barbara area by Hollywood, who hoped to collect a drug debt owed by Markowitz’s older brother. Over a period of days, Markowitz was transported to various locations, attended a party with his kidnappers, and was eventually taken into the Santa Barbara foothills where he was killed in an execution-style shooting and buried in the grave he had been forced to dig himself.
Hollywood was not actually at the murder scene when the killing occurred, but testimony in the trials of his conspirators established that the murder took place at his specific direction. The triggerman in the killing, Ryan Hoyt, was previously convicted and sentenced to death. A third accomplice, Jesse Rugge, had previously been convicted of kidnapping for ransom, but was acquitted of murder charges.
Hollywood, now 30, had spent nearly a decade on the run from the law, and was apprehended in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to face the charges upon which he was convicted and sentenced.
Hollywood’s defense counsel has lodged multiple charges of trial improprieties — including prejudicial behavior and media contacts by prosecutors — and appeals are expected.