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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | East County / Conejo Valley

Film on Murder Case Opens Today

October 20, 2000|RICHARD FAUSSET

A documentary film debuts today that recounts a May 1995 slaying that resulted in five Conejo Valley teenagers, including three from Ventura County, receiving long prison sentences.

"Reckless Indifference," by director William Gazecki, tells of the stabbing death of Jimmy Farris, the 16-year-old son of a Los Angeles police officer.

On May 22, 1995, five youths aged 15 to 18 drove to an Agoura Hills home where teenager Mike McLoren was known to sell marijuana from a backyard fort. Four boys--Anthony Miliotti, Brandon Hein, and Thousand Oaks' brothers Jason and Micah Holland--got out of the car with the intention of either stealing or buying McLoren's pot.

Soon a fight ensued, and Jason Holland admitted to stabbing both McLoren and Farris. McLoren recovered; Farris died hours later.

Jason Holland, Hein and Miliotti were sentenced to life terms in August 1996. The jury found the youths acted with "reckless indifference," a special circumstance that ruled out the possibility of parole.

Micah Holland received a sentence of 25 years to life, the maximum he could receive as a 15-year-old. The fifth boy, Chris Velardo of Oak Park--who stayed in the car during the fight--pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was given 11 years in prison.

Critics in the film--which today begins a limited seven-day run for Oscar consideration at Laemmle's Grande 4-Plex in downtown Los Angeles--allege the victim's father, Jim Farris, a Los Angeles Police Department officer, had undue influence on the case.

His wife, Judie Farris, denies there was any such influence and has taken the criticism of the trial from the convicted youths' parents personally.

"All the blame they put on us is because they can't face the facts," she said. "Almost everything the criminals' families say [in the documentary] is wrong."

Jeff Semow, one of the prosecutors, said he has not seen the film, but was surprised to learn that Gazecki did not mention that the prosecution was ready to offer a deal to the defendants, and swap lesser charges for guilty pleas--thus avoiding such harsh penalties.

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