A Santa Barbara man convicted of kidnapping a 15-year-old boy before he was murdered over a drug debt will be released on parole in the coming days after more than a decade in prison.
Jesse Rugge, who was convicted of kidnapping Nicolas Markowitz in August 2000, was one of several people implicated in the teen’s kidnapping and murder.
During the highly publicized case — the inspiration for the 2006 film Alpha Dog — Santa Barbara County prosecutors said 29-year-old Jesse James Hollywood was the mastermind of the kidnapping and murder.
Markowitz was kidnapped while walking down the street near his West Hills home in the San Fernando Valley to force payment of a $1,200 drug debt his brother owed to Hollywood.
The teen was driven to Santa Barbara, where he was held for several days before being taken up to the Lizard’s Mouth area off West Camino Cielo and shot to death by Ryan Hoyt. Hoyt eventually was convicted of murder and sentenced to the death.
Hollywood was also was convicted of murder, and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in 2010.
On Tuesday, the state’s parole board upheld a decision made earlier this year to release Rugge, who was convicted of kidnapping but was acquitted of a murder charge.
The board voted to reaffirm the original decision to grant Rugge parole, said Luis Patino, spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabiliation Parole Division.
Gov. Jerry Brown weighed in on the matter, expressing concern about Rugge’s release, and the case went to an en banc hearing in front of the full board.
The board must inform the institution within 24 hours of the decision, and the prison will have a maximum of five days to release Rugge, he said.
Patino said the department never gives the exact location or date of the release, but noted that Rugge had served time at the California Institution for Men in Chino.
He first begin his prison sentence on Oct. 11, 2002.
— Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.