Prosecution rests in California trial of Jesse James Hollywood, charged with teen’s murder

Prosecution rests in ‘Alpha Dog’ murder trial

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. — Prosecutors have rested their case against Jesse James Hollywood, who is accused of ordering the murder of a teenager he allegedly kidnapped to force payment of a drug debt in a case that inspired the 2006 movie “Alpha Dog.”

Dr. Robert Anthony, a forensic pathologist with the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department, testified Tuesday that autopsy findings showed 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz was shot nine times and had his hands bound behind his back.

Also among the last to testify for the prosecution Tuesday was a sheriff’s lieutenant who went to Los Angeles International Airport in 2005 to pick up Hollywood after his capture in Brazil.

The defense will begin calling witnesses on Monday and a jury could begin deliberations on June 26 or June 29, Judge Brian Hill told the panel.

Hollywood, 29, has pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and murder charges. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

Prosecutors contend that Hollywood and others kidnapped the boy in 2000 in the San Fernando Valley to force his half brother, Ben Markowitz, to pay $1,200 he owed Hollywood for drugs.

The boy partied with his abductors for several days before Hollywood ordered his execution after learning he could face life in prison if convicted of kidnapping, prosecutors have said. The boy was buried in a shallow grave in the Santa Barbara foothills.

Ryan Hoyt was convicted of actually killing the boy and was sentenced to death. Three other people were convicted of lesser charges.

Hollywood disappeared after the killing and was arrested in 2005 on a Brazilian beach.

Defense witnesses could include “Alpha Dog” director Nick Cassavetes, who interviewed some of the witnesses, and Ron Zonen, who was the lead prosecutor but was later replaced. The case stalled for years after it was learned that Zonen, acting as a consultant on the movie, had turned over probation reports, police files and other documents to Cassavetes.

Information from: Santa Barbara News-Press, www.newspress.com

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