A judge Feb. 21 praised two men who testified against the alleged killer of a 71-year-old gay man– before sentencing them to three and two years in prison for their roles in the 2000 incident.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Runston Maino reflected about the Aug. 23, 2000 killing of LeRay “Mac” Parkins, who was struck twice in the head with a baseball bat in a North Park alley.
“The sad thing is, the man who wielded the bat is not going to prison for that,” said Maino, referring to the release of Edward Brooks, 39, after two juries deadlocked.
Brooks was released from jail Jan. 27 by Judge David Gill after he granted the second mistrial. Two juries both deadlocked 9-3, once in favor of conviction, and the second in favor of acquittal.
Gill dismissed the murder case against Brooks, saying he didn’t think a third jury would be able to reach a verdict.
Lester Roshunn Bell, 39, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and Terrence Maurice Brown, 38, pleaded guilty to robbing Parkins. A murder charge was then dismissed against them.
Maino sentenced Brown to two years in prison. Because he has 744 days of jail credits, Brown should be released from jail soon.
Bell got three years in prison. Bell also has 744 days of jail credits, so he is likely to be paroled later this year since he has already served two years.
Bell and Brown testified that Brooks clubbed Parkins in the head with a baseball bat during a robbery. In 2018, a DNA test on the empty pockets of Parkins came back positive for Brooks’ DNA in three places. He was arrested in North Carolina.
Brooks testified he did take the wallet but he claimed Brown killed Parkins, not him. Brown testified he was the getaway driver and he never saw Parkins.
“I was very impressed by their testimony,” said Maino. “It was pretty straight forward. I thought the testimony at trial was so powerful.”
“Both Brown and Bell were entirely cooperative,” said Deputy District Attorney Christina Arrollado.
Cordell Hill, the victim’s lover of 20 years, asked the prosecutor to read his letter to the judge out loud.
“These men are responsible for shattering my life,” wrote Hill. “They gave me a life sentence.”
Brown turned to face Hill in the audience and apologized. “I’m ashamed to have ties to it,” added Brown.
A month after Parkins was robbed, Hill called police to report his credit card was used several times. Officers interviewed Bell’s ex-girlfriend, who testified at both trials, saying Bell asked her to run a credit card through her line at a clothing store. She recalled Bell, Brown, and a third man purchased clothing on Parkins’ credit card.
Bell’s attorney told the judge that Bell agreed to testify “knowing it was the right thing to do.”
“You testified against Mr. Brooks at considerable risk to yourself,” said Maino to Bell. “Thank you for your statement.”
A restitution hearing was set for March 27 to determine if Bell or Brown will have to re-pay for the money and credit cards taken from Parkins.
It’s ironic that Brooks admitted to stealing Parkins’ wallet in his testimony to jurors, but he won’t serve any time for it because the statute of limitations barred prosecutors from charging him with robbery.
Parkins was remembered by many people at the Metropolitan Community Church where he sang in the choir. Senior Pastor Dan Koeshall recalled Parkins as “having the most beautiful Irish tenor voice.”