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Jesse James Hollywood tells jurors his marijuana business was "always first"

June 22, 2009 |  4:55 pm

Looking like a young banker in dark suit and striped tie, Jesse James Hollywood testified in his own defense today on slaying charges, giving a concise overview of his lucrative marijuana business in the San Fernando Valley.

On the witness stand for a little more than an hour, Hollywood, 29, was polite and well-spoken, answering “yes, sir” and “no, sir” as his attorney, James Blatt, elicited details of his life before the slaying of a 15-year-old boy that has sent four of his former friends to prison.

Hollywood said he worked out every day, watched what he ate, was obsessed with personal hygiene and took his business seriously. “My business was always first,” he said.

His testimony continues tomorrow in Santa Barbara County Superior Court. In his short time on the witness stand today, he was not asked for a narrative of the events that led to the death of West Hills teenager Nicholas Markowitz.

Prosecutors say Hollywood masterminded the slaying to avenge a drug debt owed by the teen's half-brother.

Hollywood and some friends captured Nicholas on the street near his home. Over the next few days, the group smoked marijuana and drank with Nicholas.

Hollywood's friends were convicted of shooting and burying Nicholas; Hollywood was back in Los Angeles at the time.

-- Steve Chawkins in Santa Barbara

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