Murder Trial Ordered for Alleged Gang Member in Slaying of Venice Youth Pastor
By Paul Chavez, Venice Dispatch
A judge ruled Thursday that there was enough evidence for a suspected gang member to face trial on a murder charge for the shooting death of 23-year-old Venice youth pastor Oscar Duncan.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Rayvis ordered Kevin Dwayne Green, 29, to return to court Oct. 25 for arraignment and kept his bail at $2 million.
Duncan was fatally shot once in the head June 4 about 10:30 p.m. in the 600 block of Santa Clara Avenue outside his home.
Deputy District Attorney Teresa Magno of the Hardcore Gang Division called nine witnesses during the hearing at the LAX Airport Courthouse. The witnesses included Duncan’s fiancee who was with him at the time of the shooting and Green’s parole agent who said a Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite-based surveillance device attached to Green’s ankle registered being in front of Duncan’s home at the time of the shooting.
Duncan, a 2006 graduate of Venice High School, was a former “Youth of the Year” with the Boys & Girls Club of Venice; a homecoming and prom king at Venice High School and captain of the school’s football team. He also was a youth pastor at a church in Compton and teen mentor at the Boys & Girls Club of Venice. He also was known for his dancing and singing talents and went by the name “Choir Boy.”
His cousin, Lanee Burns, and mother attended the preliminary hearing.
Duncan’s girlfriend told the court they were engaged and planned to get married Oct. 29, 2013. She testified that Duncan parked his car June 4 and she was walking up the porch when a white, four-door car pulled up. The front passenger in the car jeered at her, “Hey sexy what’s up?” She ignored the comment and the passenger followed up by saying, “Hey bitch.’ He then asked Duncan, “Hey cuz is that your bitch?” and Duncan turned around, asked who they are and walked toward the car, she said.
She said the passenger replied, “This is Shoreline Crips, cuz.” Duncan then told the man not to worry and that he lived there, she said.
“As soon as (Duncan) said it, he shot him,” she said.
Green’s parole agent testified that he monitors 20 gang members, including Green, using a system called Satellite Tracking of People. Detective Dave Vinton of the Los Angeles Police Department’s West Bureau Homicide Division requested Green’s GPS data for the night of the shooting and it showed that Green’s device was in front of Duncan’s home when the shooting occurred, Robles said.
LAPD Officer Armando Arenas of the West L.A. Gang Enforcement Detail testified that Green was a member of the Playboy Gangster Crips, a street gang with about 130 members that he has been assigned to monitor for the past 18 months. He said that gang members sometimes shout out a local gang’s name as a ruse to gain the trust of their intended target.
Gang members who invade a rival gang’s territory to commit violent crimes do so to gain status within their gang and to spread their gang’s reputation in hopes of instilling fear among rival gangs and the community, Arenas said.
Green’s former girlfriend, Brittney Lions, testified that she bought a white, four-door Lexus earlier this year that Green used to drive around. She said that Green had the car the night of the shooting and returned home between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. seeming distant and quiet.
She was driving the car June 8 when police pulled them over after Green had been identified as a suspect. She testified that Green yelled and punched her to keep driving and fled on foot from police when she finally stopped. An arresting officer testified that Green removed his electronic ankle bracelet, which was found about a mile from where he was apprehended.
Green, who wore a yellow jail-issued shirt and blue pants in court, initially said he was with his girlfriend at the time of the shooting, but changed his story when confronted with her statement and the GPS data, Vinton told the court. Green then identified the gunman as alleged gang member Hopeton Parsley, Vinton said. Parsley was arrested shortly after the shooting, but was later released with no charges filed.
The investigation is continuing and police said they hope to make more arrests.
The probable cause hearing opened with robbery victim Luis Chavez describing how he was attacked in a similar fashion by two men May 21 about 11:15 p.m. in an alley in the 1400 block of South Mansfield Avenue while walking with his girlfriend. Chavez said one of the men asked him where he was from, pulled a gun, took his knife and stabbed him in the finger. When Chavez told the men he lives on Mansfield, he testified that he was struck from behind with a heavy metal object, knocked unconscious and savagely beaten. Chavez also said he was robbed of his cell phone, house keys, knife and about $500 in cash.
LAPD Detective Rolando Rodriguez later testified that Chavez’s girlfriend identified Green from a six-person photo lineup as looking similar to the gunman who beat her boyfriend. Vinton testified that he talked to Green about the Chavez case and Green told him that Parsley pulled the gun on Chavez while Green removed his knife. Chavez’s cell phone was found in Green’s living room June 8 when police searched his home, Vinton said.
Green denied shooting Duncan after his arrest and said that his wife and unborn child were killed in gang violence, Vinton said. Green was crying after his arrest and said that he didn’t hurt or kill people, Vinton said.
Deputy Public Defender Tonya Greetz asked Rayvis to dismiss the case, arguing the shooting was a spontaneous act by the front passenger and that Green identified the gunman.
Rayvis rejected her arguments and ruled there was reasonable suspicion that Green aided and abetted in the crime. She cited his fleeing from police, lying to officers, association with Parsley and violence toward Lions as reasons for her decision.
“Based on all evidence, he shared the shooter’s intent,” Rayvis said.
Green has been charged with one count of murder with gun use, committing a crime to benefit a street gang, second-degree robbery and being a felon in possession of a firearm. If convicted, Green faces a minimum of 50 years to life in prison.
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