Your Black Muslim Bakery leader guilty of murder

The San Francisco Chronicle/June 10, 2011

Oakland - The former leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery was convicted Thursday of three counts of first-degree murder for ordering the 2007 slayings of Oakland newspaper editor Chauncey Bailey and two other men, capping a trial that was watched closely by journalists and First Amendment advocates.

An Alameda County Superior Court jury convicted Yusuf Bey IV, 25, after deliberating in Oakland since May 23.

A second defendant, former bakery associate Antoine Mackey, 25, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder for the killings of Bailey and Michael Wills, 36. The jury split on a third count involving the slaying of Odell Roberson Jr., 31, and Judge Thomas Reardon declared a mistrial on that charge.

Both Bey and Mackey face life terms in prison without the possibility of parole when they are sentenced July 8 because they were convicted of the special circumstance of multiple murder. Neither showed any reaction when the verdicts were read.

Relatives of Bailey, however, bowed their heads and hugged each other when they learned that Bey had been convicted of murdering the journalist by ordering bakery handyman Devaughndre Broussard to pull the trigger.

Broussard reached a plea bargain with prosecutors and testified against Bey, saying the leader of the black empowerment group wanted Bailey dead because the Oakland Post editor was working on unflattering stories about the bakery.

'A long journey'

Wendy Ashley-Johnson, a cousin of Bailey's, said, "It's been a long journey, but justice has finally been done, and it's over. The family's just so thankful - thankful to God, thankful to the jury, thankful to the D.A."

She added, "Journalists have a job to do, and they should not be squashed in what they do."

District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said the verdicts "have brought to an end the unbelievable violence, the aggressive behavior and the terror that Yusuf Bey, Antoine Mackey and Devaughndre Broussard have inflicted on the community of Oakland. What may have been once a productive organization in Oakland became nothing more than a criminal street gang engaging in senseless violence and unyielding terror."

Trial prosecutor Melissa Krum agreed, saying, "They're nothing but a group of thugs."

She said the verdicts send the message that "the First Amendment is not going to be murdered by murdering journalists. You cannot kill the man and expect the message to be killed."

Bey's mother weeps

Bey's mother, Daulet Bey, wept in court before hearing the jury's decision and expressed frustration when she ended up missing the verdicts. "I believe in my son's innocence, I do," she said.

Bey's attorney, Gene Peretti, said, "Devastating verdict, and we're very disappointed." He said his client is "a little bit stunned."

Peretti and Mackey's attorney, Gary Sirbu, both said they would appeal.

"He's taking it well," Sirbu said of Mackey. "I think he's a courageous young guy. Personally, he's extremely likable. It's been my pleasure to work with him. He's been respectful of the criminal justice system at all times, and now his attention goes to the appeal process."

Jurors declined to comment as they left the courthouse.

Prosecutors said they would decide whether to retry Mackey for the killing of Roberson.

Picture of vengeance

Krum had portrayed Bey as a charismatic but unhinged leader of a financially ailing organization. She told jurors he would stop at nothing to terrorize those he believed had wronged him or the bakery founded in the late 1960s by his father, Yusuf Bey Sr., to give African Americans who worked there responsibility and authority and to provide healthful food to the community.

Prosecutors said Bey IV had targeted Bailey because the editor was working on stories about the now-defunct bakery's financial problems and internal turmoil. Bailey was shot dead as he walked to work in downtown Oakland on Aug. 2, 2007.

In a statement, Reporters Without Borders, a media organization, said it hopes that "lessons will be drawn from this case and that journalists will be able to perform their job as they have a right to."

The other killings were less political in nature. Roberson was the uncle of a man who had killed Bey's brother in a botched 2005 carjacking in North Oakland, and Wills was slain simply because he was white, the prosecution said.

Shells matched

Spent shotgun shells found at the scene of Bailey's slaying matched one found in Bey's bedroom and seven located on the roof of the Oakland bakery when it was raided a day after the journalist was killed, according to testimony at the trial.

Defense attorneys had focused their efforts on discrediting Broussard, a former bakery handyman who pleaded guilty in 2009 to two counts of voluntary manslaughter for killing Roberson near the San Pablo Avenue bakery in July 2007 and Bailey the following month near 14th and Alice streets in downtown Oakland.

Defense attorneys sought to portray Broussard to jurors as a lying, "stone-cold murderer" whose testimony could not be trusted.

Broussard, 23, was the prosecution's star witness. In exchange for testifying, he will be sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Broussard testified that he had killed Bailey with three shotgun blasts after he and Mackey staked out the journalist's home. He eventually told investigators that Bey had ordered the murder and had demanded that Broussard be a "good soldier" and take sole responsibility.

Bakery's crimes

Prosecutors say Broussard used the SKS assault rifle to kill Roberson on July 7, 2007, and that Mackey used it five days later to kill Wills.

Jurors heard testimony about a litany of crimes involving bakery members, They included shootings, the kidnapping of two women and the torture of one of them, the vandalism of two liquor stores to curb alcohol sales, and a sexual-assault case against Bey Sr., the bakery's late founder, that Bailey had covered.

Broussard said Bey was angry at Bailey for having somehow contributed to his father's 2003 death from cancer. But foremost on Bey's mind, Broussard testified, was the research that Bailey was doing on the financial collapse of the bakery, which had been racked by turmoil since the elder Bey's death.

Bey IV did not testify. Mackey took the stand near the end of the trial and denied any involvement in the killings.

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