The trial of Jesse James Hollywood, who’s accused of masterminding the August 2000 murder of 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz, continued on Monday morning much like it had gone on Friday with the testimony of Casey Sheehan. Sheehan, a longtime friend to Hollywood as well as to convicted triggerman Ryan Hoyt (who’s now on death row), covered much of the same ground as he did on Friday, with both the prosecution and defense attorneys focusing on his version of events around the time of the murder.
After some discussions between the judge and attorneys outside the presence of the jury – including a brief, unexplained mention of a letter apparently sent by someone in the Hollywood camp that may amount to perjury – the morning began with the cross-examination of Sheehan by defense attorney Alex Kessel. Sheehan again answered questions about what he had heard Hoyt and Hollywood say after the murder occurred, mainly that Hoyt said he “fucked up”, that he and Jesse Rugge (who was also convicted in the kidnapping) had a “very heated” argument, and that Hollywood had asked Hoyt why he didn’t handle the situation as instructed. Kessel, who’s intent is to disconnect Hollywood from the killing, got Sheehan to admit that Hoyt was not blaming Hollywood for the problem, but rather blaming himself.
On the re-direct examination, prosecutor Josh Lynn used multiple old transcripts to help Sheehan recollect his earlier testimony and statements in previous trials, Grand Jury investigations, and detective interviews. Treating Sheehan, who negotiated an immunity deal years ago in return for his testimony, as an adverse witness, Lynn’s job was to link Hollywood to the crime using Sheehan’s observations. Things became occasionally heated when Lynn would question Sheehan’s previously inconsistent responses, but they seemed more like differences of interpretation as compared to outright lies. Lynn asked whether it was hard to testify against a former friend, and Sheehan acknowledged as much, but said that it has not affected his testimony. If it had, Sheehan, who has two large shamrock tattoos on his neck beneath both his ears, would be likely facing jail time for violating his end of the immunity deal.
Specifically, Lynn’s questioning covered much of what had been hit upon Friday: the $200 spent at the skate shop by Hoyt buying clothes, which apparently came as post-killing payment; the comments made by Hoyt and Hollywood after the murder that showed their close relationship; the debts owed by Hoyt to Hollywood, which were cleared after the murder; and the dinner at the Outback Steakhouse when Hollywood got word that “the situation” had been taken care of. Sheehan again explained that Hollywood had spent the night at his house on August 8, and was there the morning of August 9 when he left for work. That’s significant to the prosecution’s case because a phone call was made from Sheehan’s house on August 9 to Jesse Rugge, a connection that would further show Hollywood’s involvement in the murder.
Lynn also probed the hierarchy of the Hollywood-Hoyt relationship, and Sheehan testified that Hoyt was often made fun of by Hollywood and friends. “I think Hoyt got a lot more crap than everybody else did,” said Sheehan, who also admitted that Hoyt had to do chores, such as painting a fence and picking up dog poop, for Hollywood to pay off debts. The testimony also delved into the big blue hockey bag that Hollywood used to hold his many guns, which ranged from a 9mm to a shotgun.
After another round of questioning by Kessel, Sheehan was finished by about 11 a.m., clearing the way for a forensic investigator to take the stand and discuss the gravesite. In the afternoon, various law enforcement, bank and telephone company witnesses took the stand.