Jesse James Hollywood
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|Jesse James Hollywood|
Photograph taken in 2005.
|Born||Jesse James Hollywood
January 28, 1980
West Hills, California, United States
|Residence||Currently housed in Calipatria State Prison, Calipatria, Imperial County, California.|
|Other names||Michael Costa Giroux and Sean Michaels|
|Known for||Kidnapping and ordering the murder of Nicholas Markowitz.|
|Children||John Paul Hollywood-Reis|
Jesse James Hollywood (born January 28, 1980) is a former drug dealer who kidnapped and ordered the murder of Nicholas Markowitz and is serving life without parole at Calipatria State Prison in Calipatria, California
Childhood and adolescence
He was born to John (Jack) and Laurie Hollywood and was raised in West Hills in Los Angeles. As a child he was involved in junior baseball league. His father moved the family to Colorado in an attempt to run a restaurant in the mid-1990s, but returned to West Hills in 1995.
Hollywood attended El Camino Real High School where he played baseball. During his adolescent years he started power lifting and ingesting muscle supplements to help build up his muscle mass. His coach would later describe him as an "emotional kid" who was later expelled for erupting into a violent fit of rage at one of his teachers near the end of his sophomore year. He transferred to Calabasas High School where he played on the varsity baseball team until he injured his back and leg, forcing him to give up the sport. Investigators believe that he started selling illegal drugs a year before he committed the murder of Nicholas Markowitz. He recruited his former high school friends William Skidmore, Brian Affronti, Benjamin Markowitz, and Jesse Rugge to dispense narcotics for him and build up a profitable illicit drug operation. He had been a close friend of Benjamin Markowitz, playing on the same junior baseball league and would visit the same Malibu, California, gymnasium to exercise together.
Narcotics operation and murder of Nicholas Markowitz
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Life as a fugitive
At the time of Hoyt's arrest, Hollywood fled the country through Canada and went to Brazil with help from his father Jack Hollywood, his godfather Richard Dispenza (who was unaware he was a fugitive at the time), and his girlfriend at the time. Law enforcement agencies and the Markowitz family offered a reward of $30,000 for information leading to Hollywood's capture, this was later raised to $50,000. Hollywood lived on Copacabana Beach where he assumed the identity of "Michael Costa Giroux" and claimed to be a native of Rio de Janeiro, and later on, of Saquarema. In an attempt to blend in with the countryside he took up the Portuguese language. He worked in Brazil by putting up posters advertising a nightclub and later landed a job teaching private English language classes and being a dog walker. Yet the bulk of the money he lived on came from a $1,200 monthly stipend funneled by his father. While in Brazil, he met Marcia Reis, who became pregnant by Hollywood. Jesse James believed the pregnancy would protect him from extradition to the United States, as Brazilian law stated that "If you're the father of a native Brazilian, you cannot be extradited" (See the case of Ronald Biggs); however, Jesse James was wrong about the Brazilian laws, which had been changed since the international controversy with Biggs. Additionally, he was in Brazil as an illegal immigrant because he had arrived in the country with a false passport, a fact that already would have allowed his deportation, regardless of his fathering a child with a native Brazilian.
United States authorities worked with Brazilian agents and discovered that Hollywood was planning to meet a cousin at a mall. He was arrested by Brazilian authorities in Saquarema in March 2005. In July 2005 Reis gave birth to Hollywood's son, named John Paul Hollywood-Reis.
He was profiled on America's Most Wanted from September 2000- June 2004 and twice in 2005 after being captured. NBC's Dateline and Fox Network's America's Most Wanted have covered this story extensively.
While Hollywood was in Brazil, all participants in the murder were convicted or made pleas. Ryan Hoyt is currently on death row at San Quentin State Prison. Graham Pressley was released from the California Youth Authority Facility in 2007, and Jesse Rugge is due to be released from prison, as of October 2014. As of July 2, 2013, Jesse Rugge was granted parole. William Skidmore was released in April 2009 after serving 9 years behind bars for the kidnapping.
In 2005, on the same day Jesse James Hollywood was arrested in Brazil, his father was arrested for manufacturing the illicit narcotic GHB, but the charge was later thrown out in court. Jack Hollywood remained in custody on an outstanding 2002 warrant for a marijuana-related charge, and later received 18 months in an Arizona prison.
Court rulings and trial
In 2006, the movie Alpha Dog, based on Jesse Hollywood and the kidnap and murder of Nicholas Markowitz, premiered. During filming, Santa Barbara County Deputy District Attorney Ronald J. Zonen provided copies of many documents on the case and served as an unpaid consultant to the film, citing his desire to have Hollywood captured. Zonen prosecuted Hollywood’s co-defendants and was poised to prosecute Hollywood. James Blatt, Hollywood's defense attorney, claimed there was a conflict of interest, and the California Court of Appeal for the Second District ruled on October 5, 2006 that, based on Zonen's disclosure of the files and consultant service—he should be recused from further involvement in prosecuting Hollywood. On December 20, 2006, the California Supreme Court granted review on the case effectively staying the order to recuse Zonen. On May 12, 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that Zonen should not be recused. Nonetheless, Zonen was replaced with Joshua Lynn, who is serving as lead prosecution attorney. While in jail Hollywood began signing his mail as "Alpha Dog" and had mentioned an "Alpha Dog World Tour."
After the Court review, in June 2008 his trial date was set to begin February 19, 2009, but it was delayed. Three months later the murder trial officially started on Friday, May 15. The defense's opening statements stated that Hollywood was not involved with the murder. In his opening statement, Santa Barbara County Deputy Dist. Atty. Joshua Lynn described Hollywood as "a ruthless coward." On Monday, May 18, witnesses called to the stand included Jeff Markowitz (the victim's father), Pauline Mahoney (who was driving with her sons when she saw a group of men attacking Markowitz), and Brian Affonti (a one time friend of Hollywood's who was picked up after the kidnapping). Affonti told the jury that he knew about Hollywood's gun, a TEC-9, which is the alleged murder weapon. Chas Salsbury, Hollywood's getaway driver, testified at trial that following the murder "Hollywood seemed remorseful, depressed, and at some points even suicidal." Saulsbury continued on the fifth day with Kelly Carpenter discussing the actions of Rugge and Pressley’s mother. The following day saw testimony from Rugge's childhood friend, Richard Hoeflinger, who spoke about what he witnessed. Subsequently, several Santa Barbarans told the jury about events leading to Nick Markowitz’s murder.
At the start of the second week Michelle Lasher, Hollywood's former girlfriend, testified that she still loved Hollywood and was hostile to prosecution. Lasher also admitted to lying to police because she did not want Hollywood to be caught. The Hollywood family friend, attorney Stephen Hogg, told the jury about "a tense conversation in the attorney's Simi Valley backyard" wherein Hogg told Hollywood "that kidnapping can carry a life sentence." Graham Pressley's testimony about the events followed Hogg's appearance. Pressley testified that Rugge "told me that Jesse Hollywood offered him $2,000 to kill Nick, but [Rugge said] that that was crazy, [Hollywood] was crazy." Pressley's testimony, important for the prosecution, continued Friday and early into the third week. During this time, Ben Markowitz took the stand. After that, witness Casey Sheehan quoted Hollywood as saying that while he and his longtime friend, Hollywood, dined at an Outback Steakhouse Markowitz told Sheehan that “the situation” had been taken care of. In the following days, various medical experts and law enforcement officials testified. At this point, the prosecution rested their case on Wednesday of the third week.
Hollywood's defense began on the Monday of the third week. Hollywood took the stand on the first day of the defense, denying any role in the murder and saying that he was angry when Hoyt told him about the murder at a birthday party. Hollywood recounted the kidnapping, the events that led up to it, and discussed his life on the run. Hollywood's testimony lasted four days. with the prosecution cross-examining Hollywood about making threats, closing bank accounts, withdrawing money, and selling his home. Hollywood spent much of his time on the stand denying the testimony of previous witnesses. The last witness the defense called was District Attorney investigator Paul Kimes, who was questioned by co-counsel Alex Kessel about phone records.Closing arguments began on Tuesday and Wednesday of the fourth week, after which the case went to the jury. During closing statements, the defense said that Hollywood's associates lied while the prosecution called Hollywood "a child killer." The jury considered three different charges, with penalties ranging from 8 years in prison to the death penalty.
Conviction and sentencing
On July 8, 2009, following three days of deliberation, the jury reached a verdict. The jury found Hollywood guilty of kidnapping and first-degree murder with special circumstances for which he could face the death penalty. On Monday July 13, the jury began the penalty phase of the trial. The mothers of the defendant and the victim took the stand, as did brothers of the defendant and the victim. Closing arguments began during the second day of the penalty phase. In July 2009, the jury recommended a sentence of life in prison. On February 5, 2010, the judge sentenced Hollywood to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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- Hollywood v. Superior Court, 143 Cal. App. 4th 858, 49 Cal. Rptr. 3d 598 (2006).
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- Hollywood v. Superior Court, ___ Cal.4th ___ (May 12, 2008, S147954).
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- "Jesse James Hollywood Sentenced to Life". The Santa Barbara Independent. July 14, 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-21.
- "Jesse James Hollywood gets life in prison for Santa Barbara murder". Los Angeles Times. February 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-21.