When Stephen Hogg took the stand at the Jesse James Hollywood trial Tuesday afternoon, he began his testimony by making sure his immunity papers were signed. Several weeks earlier, witness Chas Saulsbury delivered what appeared to be incriminating testimony about Hogg.
According to Saulsbury, Hollywood had consulted Hogg, his attorney during August 2000, about the legal repercussions of kidnapping someone. Saulsbury said that Hogg then told Hollywood to murder the kidnapping victim. But on Tuesday in court, Hogg told the jury that he actually advised Hollywood to turn himself in to the police. It is unclear which witness is lying, or if it was Hollywood who lied when he gave Saulsbury that information.
The prosecution’s theory is that Hollywood masterminded the kidnapping and murder of Nicholas Markowitz, even though Hollywood was not present for the actual murder. However, the victim’s half-brother, Ben, owed Hollywood $1,200 at the time and the two had been feuding. If Hollywood is found guilty, he could face the death penalty.
The Hollywood family and the Markowitz family have been attending the trial every day, sitting in close proximity to each other in the courtroom, but not appearing to interact. The victim’s mother, Susan Markowitz, is thin, pretty and composed in her formal clothing and her calm demeanor as she watches the trial. She must attend the trial without Nicholas’s father, Jeffrey Markowitz, because he was asked to testify as a witness. The Hollywood family also appears composed, with the defendant’s father Jack Hollywood sometimes even holding the door open for members of the press and the general public as they file out of the court building.
Hogg, a criminal defense attorney, testified on Tuesday that he had known Jack Hollywood for 30 years, and had known the defendant since he was two. Hogg said the defendant came to his house on August 8, 2000, and asked him about the legal repercussions for kidnapping someone. Hollywood claimed that it was his friends who had kidnapped someone, but Hogg suspected that Hollywood was involved as well.
Hogg is one of many witnesses who may have been able to prevent the murder had they only reported the kidnapping to the police. But, like many of the other witnesses, Hogg also understood that Markowitz was drinking, smoking, and playing video games with his captors. “I’ve never ever heard of a kidnapping where the kidnappers are partying with the victim,” Hogg said. He therefore didn’t think that the victim was in grave danger, and was instead more concerned about Hollywood. “I said to him, ‘If your friends hurt this guy, or if your friends asked for money from him, they can get life,”” Hogg testified. But he said that Hollywood refused to go to the police.
“He begged me not to tell his parents: He didn’t want his parents to be worried, because his brother was going to have heart surgery,” Hogg said. The attorney was also concerned for his client’s safety, and Hollywood allegedly told Hogg that, if he went to the police, then the safety of the whole Hollywood family would be threatened, though it was unclear to Hogg who would be threatening Hollywood and why.
Hogg said he still isn’t sure how much he believes of what Hollywood told him that day.
Graham Pressley, who is the first witness to testify who has been charged with his involvement with the kidnapping and murder, briefly began his testimony late Tuesday by admitting that he lied to police detectives in his first interview. He will continue testifying on Wednesday at 8:45 am.
Amy Silverstein is an Independent intern.