Surprise guilty plea in Your Black Muslim Bakery case

San Jose Mercury News/February 1, 2008

Oakland - One of five members of Your Black Muslim Bakery accused of kidnapping and torturing two women last year began to testify against the others today after secretly pleading guilty to kidnapping in a deal with the Alameda County District Attorney's office.

In a surprise announcement just before the group's preliminary trial continued in an Oakland courtroom, Deputy District Attorney Scott Patton announced that Joshua Bey, 19, had pleaded guilty to kidnapping and would be the next witness in the case. Torture charges against Joshua Bey were dropped.

In the preliminary hearing, a judge is trying to determine if there is enough evidence to try the bakery members - including Joshua Bey's brothers bakery CEO Yusuf Bey IV, 20, Yusuf Bey V, 21 - in connection with a May 17 incident in which two Oakland women were kidnapped and beat with baseball bats in what prosecutors said was an attempt to steal money from them.

The plea deal immediately had an impact on the case. Within minutes of taking the stand, Joshua Bey implicated Yusuf Bey IV in the crime, saying the leader told him to stake out a bingo hall in East Oakland so he could collect his money. By the lunchtime break, Joshua Bey placed the other three defendants at the scene of the torture and kidnapping.

But before he testified, defense attorneys for the other four defendants were scurrying in hopes of convincing the judge to postpone the hearing. Meanwhile, family members for the other four defendants began to cry and Yusuf Bey V appeared upset.

"You're not a Bey anymore," co-defendant Yusuf Bey V said as Joshua Bey walked into the courtroom. "He's upset, he just got some unsettling news," said David Kelvin, Bey V's attorney.

The case had been moved to a basement courtroom and was watched over with increased security. Additional bailiffs were on guard and visitors were required to pass through a second metal detector before entering the room.

As Joshua Bey was finally led into the court, Yusuf Bey IV, the bakery leader, glared at him. The two other defendants, Richard Lewis and Tamon Halfin, shook their heads.

Joshua Bey described in detail how the group used a fake police cruiser to pull two women over on Interstate 580. He told of how they drove the women to an empty house and described how he saw one of the woman sitting in a chair with a bag on her head.

The five members are charged with kidnapping and torture in relation to a plan last May in which they kidnapped.

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