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Man Sentenced on Robbery Charge

Courts: Last year, the defendant's half brother was kidnapped and killed in an unrelated case.

July 04, 2001|JEAN GUCCIONE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Benjamin Markowitz, whose alleged drug debt authorities believe led to the kidnapping and killing of his younger half brother, was sentenced to 16 months in prison Tuesday for attempted robbery.

Markowitz, 22, pleaded no contest to the felony charge, which was unrelated to the kidnapping case.

He could be released by December, attorney Andrew Flier said. He has been in Los Angeles County Jail since his February arrest.

Markowitz had faced up to 32 years in prison on four counts, including two of armed robbery.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Walmark said the case was weak and Markowitz's prior conviction was for a misdemeanor.

"We feel it is a good settlement for both sides," Walmark said.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michelle Rosenblatt imposed the sentence.

Markowitz's half brother, Nicholas Markowitz, was kidnapped last August near his West Hills home and held hostage in Santa Barbara for several days before being killed. Authorities believe Nicholas was killed over a $36,000 debt that his brother owed Jesse James Hollywood, a childhood acquaintance.

Facing murder and kidnapping charges in Nicholas' death are Ryan James Hoyt, 21, of West Hills; Jesse Taylor Rugge, 19, of Santa Barbara; William Skidmore, 20, of Simi Valley; and Graham Presley, 17, of Goleta.

Authorities are still searching for Hollywood, 20, of West Hills.

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