By Neal Putnam
One of three men accused of killing a gay man 18 years ago in North Park has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
LeRay “Mac” Parkins, 71, a member of the choir at Metropolitan Community Church in San Diego, was found mortally wounded during a robbery on Aug. 23, 2000, in a North Park alley.
Lester Roshunn Bell, now 38, faces up to 11 years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 6 by San Diego Superior Court Judge Polly Shamoon.
An all-day preliminary hearing is set for Wednesday, Nov. 14, for the other two suspects, Edward Jamar Brooks, now 38, and Terrence Maurice Brown, now 37.
The empty pants pockets of Parkins were tested for DNA earlier in 2018, and it matched the DNA profile for Brooks, who was living in North Carolina. The trio were all extradited to San Diego after unsuccessfully fighting extradition proceedings in other states.
Parkins’ pants pockets were turned inside out, and his wallet was never found. Brooks is accused of hitting Parkins in the head with a baseball bat in the alley behind 3675 Pershing Ave. at 8:30 a.m.
The men used Parkins’ credit card to buy $223 worth of clothing for themselves. Bell had called a clothing store clerk he knew and asked her if she would let him run someone else’s credit card to buy the clothing, according to court records.
Brooks and Brown are charged with the special circumstance of murder during a robbery. If they are convicted of first-degree murder, they would face a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Bell has admitted he was with Brooks in the alley when Brooks struck Parkins. Brown was the getaway driver, according to the charges.
Brooks and Brown have pleaded not guilty and they and Bell remain in jail on $2 million bail.
—Neal Putnam is a local freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.