Man sentenced to 90 years to life in 2012 killing of Venice youth pastor

Man sentenced to 90 years to life in 2012 killing of Venice youth pastor
Oscar Duncan's mother, Belvery Brown-Duncan, center, and other relatives at a news conference in 2012 announcing a reward for information in the youth pastor's killing. Two men have been convicted of murder in the slaying. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

A 25-year-old man who was convicted of murder in the fatal shooting of a youth pastor in Venice was sentenced Wednesday to 90 years to life in prison.

Hopeton Parsley, who prosecutors said was the gunman the night of June 4, 2012, sat motionless while Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Mark Windham listened to the family of Oscar Duncan speak of how the murder of the 23-year-old changed their lives.


"We are still really trying to hold it together and get back on the right track," said Elaine Clark, Duncan's aunt.

Parsley was one of two men convicted of murder in the slaying in February. Prosecutors said Parsley, along with Kevin Green, 31, went on a "crash and burn" mission to rival gang territory when they shot Duncan, an aspiring musician, teen counselor at the local Boys and Girls Club and youth pastor.

The two drove up to Duncan and his girlfriend and shouted at the woman. They then shouted "Venice Shoreline," prompting Duncan, who was not a gang member, to walk up to the car to see who was inside. Parsley opened fire, striking Duncan in the head.

Donald Coulter, Duncan's stepfather, said Duncan would have likely told the men to join his gang -- with God.

"I pray and I challenge Mr. Parsley to change his life," he said.

Many of Duncan's relatives wore black shirts with his photo on the front at the sentencing. Others wore Superman T-shirts, an homage to Duncan's leadership within the community.

"Not only our family lost, but his family lost too," Duncan's cousin, Lanee Burns, said of Parsley.

Green, the driver of the car, is scheduled to be sentenced June 5.

Before Windham handed down the sentence, he said he took the family's statements to heart.

"My regret is I never got to meet Oscar Duncan," he said. "It seems a great life was taken from our community too soon."

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