Jesse James Hollywood testifies in S.B.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. Hollywood, 29, has pleaded not guilty to the kidnapping and murder of 15-year-old /*Nicholas Markowitz*/ in August 2000.

On the stand in a Santa Barbara courtroom, Hollywood testified that there was never any plan to abduct Markotwitz.

At the time Hollywood had been feuding with Markowitz's half-brother Ben over a drug debt. Hollywood suspected Ben of vandalizing and busting out the windows of his valley home.

Hollywood said he and two friends were driving in van when they saw Nicholas on a street in the San Fernando Valley near his home. Hollywood admitted to pinning Markowitz against a tree, but claimed it was a friend who punched Markowitz and put him in their van.

"I pinned him up against a tree and said, 'Where's your brother, where's your brother?"' Hollywood testified. "He didn't know where he was."

Hollywood said Markowitz was then taken in the van to a friend's house somewhere in the valley. He says the teen partied with them and was then free to go at any time.

Hollywood's friends later drove to Santa Barbara with Markowitz. Hollywood says he ran into the teen at a friend's house in Santa Barbara and talked to him for a few minutes, asking Markowitz if he wanted to go back to the valley.

"I asked him specifically if you want to come back to the valley with us. He said, 'No, I'm cool,"' Hollywood said.

Markowitz's was later shot to death and found buried in the hills of Santa Barbara.

Ryan Hoyt was convicted and sentenced to death for shooting the teen, and three others were also convicted for their part in the shooting.

Hollywood has claimed he did not order anyone to kill Markowitz, and that he was not present at the time of the murder. He says he believed Hoyt was going to pick up the teen and bring him home.

"Ryan Hoyt articulated to me that he and Rugge had shot Ben's brother and buried him," Hollywood testified. "I said, 'You gotta be kidding me. What were you thinking?"'

Hollywood fled Southern California after the slaying and was captured in Brazil about four-and-a-half years later. He says he took off because he believed the media had already convicted him.

If convicted, Hollywood could be sentenced to death. He's due back on the stand on Wednesday.

The movie "Alpha Dog" was inspired by the case.

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