The Santa Barbara jury that last week convicted former West Hills pot dealer Jesse James Hollywood of kidnapping and murder, today recommended he spend life in prison without the chance of parole. He had been eligible for the death penalty. Hollywood, now 29, had been accused of ordering the kidnapping and execution of 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz in the summer of 2000. Prosecutors maintained that the action was meant to send a message to Markowitz's half-brother, Ben, who owed Hollywood a drug debt. According to the L.A. Times and other sources, Hollywood's defense attorney claimed that it was Ben who had been menacing Hollywood up until Nicholas' kidnapping.
Although his associates in the crime were quickly arrested and tried, Hollywood evaded capture until 2005, when he was apprehended in Brazil and extradicted to California. A 2006 film by director Nick Cassavetes, Alpha Dog, was based on the murder and the events leading to it.