L.A. Observed has flagged for reader consideration Natasha Vargas-Cooper's courtroom coverage of Santa Barbara's Jesse James Hollywood trial. Writing in the Awl, Cooper explains that she had been junior high school friends with Nicholas Markowitz, with whom she'd grown up in the West Valley. Vargas-Cooper has an eye for detail, even when the details are found in a human tableau mort:

“Trials are terrible things in that they bring people together,” she writes. “This past Friday, in the afternoon, Jack Hollywood, a brawny man in billowy khaki pants and dark sunglasses, stood in the sun at the top of the Santa Barbara courthouse stairs. His son is accused of kidnapping and ordering the murder of the son of Jeff Markowitz–who stood at the foot of the stairs. The two men stood and looked beyond each other for roughly ten minutes.”

Jesse James Hollywood was the ringleader of a gang of bored,

comfortable youths, who, in 2000, he allegedly directed to kidnap and

kill Nicholas Markowitz as payback for a drug debt owed to Hollywood by

Nick's older brother, Ben. The story was told in Nick Cassavetes' film

Alpha Dog. To assist with the production, a deputy D.A. handed over to

Cassavetes his entire file on Hollywood, which ultimately led to the

state supreme court having to intervene in the case. Hollywood, who eluded capture for years, was arrested in Brazil in 2005 and extradited to America.

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