Kidnapping convict in Jesse James Hollywood case paroled


The decision to release Jesse Rugge as early as next week has sparked outrage from the victim's family. The governor asked the parole board to reconsider.

The California Parole Board has voted to release 33-year-old Jesse Rugge from prison, saying he no longer poses an unreasonable risk of danger to the public.

Rugge was one of five accomplices of drug dealer Jesse James Hollywood involved in the kidnapping and execution-style murder of 15-year-old Nicholas Markowitz in 2000. Rugge was convicted of kidnapping but acquitted of murder.

In 2002 Rugge was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after seven years. He was denied parole in 2008.

Rugge appeared at a parole hearing on July 2 and was granted parole. In light of the brutality of the kidnapping and murder, Gov. Brown asked the full board to review, which they did on October 15, and reaffirmed the granting of parole. Rugge is currently being processed out of the California Men's Colony and could be released as early as October 22.

Nicholas Markowitz's mother is outraged.

"Why did they go against him? Why did they grant him parole?" said Nicholas's mother Susan. "I want to know who they are? What were they thinking? The consequences should not be undone. Nick can't come back, so his consequences need to stick."

Three men including Jesse James Hollywood remain behind bars convicted of murder in the killing of Markowitz. The murder was the subject of the 2006 Hollywood movie "Alpha Dog."

Markowitz was bound and gagged and shot nine times. His body was dumped in a shallow grave in Santa Barbara. The motive was to settle an outstanding drug debt against the victim's older brother, Ben Markowitz.

A fifth man, William Skidmore, was convicted of kidnapping and robbery in the tragedy. He was released from prison in 2008 as part of a plea bargain. Markowitz says even though Rugge did not pull the trigger in the murder of her son, he was part of the crime, and she will fight to keep him behind bars until he is released.

"No parent should ever have to bury their child. This was my only child, and I'm going to fight for him," said Markowitz. "He's not here. I am his voice."

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