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Of youth pastor's murder, prosecutor asks: 'Why did such a bad thing happen to such a good person?'

When the murder trial for the men charged with killing her son began four weeks ago, Belvery "Nico" Brown-Duncan stopped parking in front of her home, unable to bear the sight of where he had been slain.

Oscar Duncan, 23, was shot in the head June 4, 2012, steps from his front gate. He had just come home from dinner with his girlfriend. Her son was a football captain, homecoming king and youth pastor. He had done nothing wrong.

On Friday, a jury found Hopeton Bereford Parsley, 25, and Kevin Dwayne Green, 31, guilty of first-degree murder, with gang and weapon allegations. A jury also found Green guilty of a robbery 10 days prior to the shooting.

Duncan grew up in Venice's Oakwood neighborhood. At 14, he proclaimed that he wanted to be a pastor. His mother often found him awake in the early morning, studying his Bible. He tried to steer teenagers away from gang life through various groups. Days before he was killed, his managers at the Boys and Girls Club made the decision to give him a promotion to a full-time counselor.

"Why did such a bad thing happen to such a good person?" Deputy Dist. Atty. Gene Hanrahan asked a jury Thursday during closing arguments.

Prosecutors said that Parsley and Green, both Playboy Gangster gang members, were on a "crash and burn" mission.

"They were putting in work, going on a mission for their gang," Hanrahan said.

Duncan, who had never been arrested, had the "misfortune of being out there."

Before their encounter with Duncan, prosecutors said, the two men convicted in his murder, along with two others, drove to rival gang territories looking for targets. Green, who was on parole, was wearing a GPS bracelet that placed him at the scene of the crime, in addition to another shooting.

His movements were corroborated by records from Parsley's phone, according to court testimony.

About 10:30 p.m., a group in a white Lexus pulled up to Duncan and his girlfriend just after the couple parked their car. Someone from the Lexus made a comment about Duncan's girlfriend, then shouted "Venice Shoreline!," according to court testimony. Prosecutors said that was bait.

Duncan, who said he wasn't in a gang, approached the car to see if he recognized anyone.

Seconds later, Parsley shot Duncan with a revolver. Duncan collapsed on the narrow street.

From inside her home, his mother heard what sounded like screaming. She ran outside and found her son wounded.

After the shooting, a woman who had just parked her car was walking to her home when she saw the white Lexus drive past with the front and back passengers hanging out the window, celebrating.

Hanrahan, the prosecutor, told jurors that the men had no remorse. "They are cheering like the Lakers have just won the championship."

A surveillance camera later captured Green wiping blood off the side of the car with his shoe in an alley known as a Playboy Gangster hangout, according to court testimony.

James Mickles, a former Playboy Gangster who testified in court, said that Instead of "earning stripes" or prominence within the gang, others looked down at the actions of Parsley and Green.

"The dude said he didn't gang-bang so he wasn't supposed to be touched," Mickles testified. Mickles said gang members don't earn respect for killing an innocent person.

"You just don't do that," he said. "They should have left him alone."

In closing arguments, defense attorneys questioned the credibility of witnesses. Nichole Sheran, 20, a gang member who was in the back seat of the car, changed her story multiple times, said Garfield Cramer, who is representing Parsley. He pointed out that Mickles also changed his story multiple times.

During the trial, a 911 tape was played for the jury. A dispatcher asks Duncan's girlfriend, Michisha Jiles, "Is he breathing?"

"It doesn't look like it," she replies. As the tape played, Jiles wept in court.

"That night never goes away," she said. "I dream it." She paused. "It never goes away. It never goes away."

Green and Parsley face 50 years to life in prison. They are scheduled to be sentenced May 8.

-- Nicole Santa Cruz

Photo: A memorial poster for Oscar Duncan, signed by friends and family, at a 2012 news conference announcing a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for his killing. Credit: Genaro Molina

Correction, April 30: This post has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Duncan's mother's name. It is Belvery, not Belverly.

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