A 25-year-old Alexandria man was convicted of first-degree murder yesterday in the 1984 shooting of an Arlington motorist after the two were involved in a traffic accident.

An Arlington Circuit Court jury recommended that Ricky Nesbitt serve a life sentence for the murder of John Parker Green, 39, who was shot once in the head and once in the chest not far from his home at 1501 N. Pierce St.

The jury also recommended a two-year sentence for Nesbitt's use of a gun in the slaying, known as the green Volvo case because witnesses said Green's killer fled in that kind of car.

Judge Thomas R. Monroe, who presided over the two-day trial, set sentencing for March 21. Under Virginia law, judges can reduce the jury-recommended sentence, although they rarely do. The jury did not specify whether the sentences should be served consecutively or concurrently. Nesbitt, of 5353 Taney Ave., would be eligible for parole in about 15 years if sentenced to life in prison.

Nesbitt served as cocounsel with attorney R. Ramsey Maupin, who called no witnesses for the defense and said an appeal is likely. Maupin described Nesbitt as a "street individual" who acted in self-defense in the July 27, 1984, incident because he was afraid Green was going to kill him.

In his statement to Detective Amon S. Comfort, Nesbitt said he shot Green after a series of traffic altercations that began on the 14th Street bridge. He said Green's truck struck his Volvo twice on the bridge and once again as Green chased him along the George Washington Memorial Parkway and onto Rte. 50 near N. 10th Street, where the shooting occurred.

Nesbitt said in the tape-recorded statement, which was played in court on Tuesday, that he thought Green was going to kill him because he saw a gun in Green's car. He then said the weapon might have been a bottle, but reverted to his statement that it was a gun.

Prosecutor Liam O'Grady, however, presented a different account of the events.

He said Green's gun, which he had used earlier in the day at a skeet-shooting match, was found unassembled and in its case beside his body when police arrived.

O'Grady also produced witnesses who said that dents on the two vehicles belied Nesbitt's claim that his Volvo was involved in two serious collisions with Green's truck.

The evidence, O'Grady said, showed instead that after a minor accident, Nesbitt pursued Green for several miles and shot the Arlington motel manager from "point-blank range."