OAKLAND (CBS SF) — An Alameda County jury on Thursday afternoon found the former leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery guilty of ordering the murders of an Oakland journalist and two other men.
Jurors found Yusuf Bey IV and his bakery associate Antoine Mackey guilty of first-degree murder in the high-profile shooting death of 57-year-old Oakland Post newspaper editor Chauncey Bailey in the summer of 2007.
KCBS’ Bob Melrose Reports:
Bey and Mackey, both 25, appeared stoic during the reading of the verdicts, which prompted tears from the families of the victims and defendants.
“Justice has finally been done,” Bailey’s cousin, Wendy Ashley-Johnson, said outside court. “Now Chauncey can rest. This chapter is over.”
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley added that the verdicts affirmed “our abiding conviction that violence against the free voice of the press will not be tolerated in our society.”
Assistant D.A. Melissa Krum told jurors in her closing arguments last month that Bey felt so desperate to protect the legacy of the bakery that promoted self-empowerment for decades that he ordered Bailey killed as he worked on a story about the organization’s troubled finances.
Founded some 40 years ago by Bey’s father, the bakery became an institution in Oakland’s black community while running a security service, school and other businesses. In recent years, the organization was tainted by connections to criminal activity.
The bakery was in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings when Bailey was gunned down near the corner of 14th and Alice streets in downtown Oakland on Aug. 2, 2007, and closed its doors later that year.
Authorities said Bailey suffered three shotgun blasts in the attack, including a final shot to the face to ensure that he was dead.
Bey also was convicted Thursday in the July 2007 killings of 31-year-old Odell Roberson Jr. and 36-year-old Michael Wills. Mackey was convicted of killing Wills, but the jury deadlocked on murder charges against him in the death of Roberson.
The prosecution said Bey ordered that Roberson, 31, be killed for retribution — because Roberson was the uncle of the man who was convicted of murdering Bey’s brother, Antar Bey, in 2005.
Krum said Bey also ordered that Wills be killed at random because he was inspired by the “Zebra Killers,” a group of black men who killed white people in San Francisco in the early 1970s. Bey and Mackey are black and Wills was white.
Since both Bey and Mackey were convicted of the special circumstance of committing multiple murders, they face life in prison without the possibility of parole when sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon on July 8.
Bey’s attorney, Gene Peretti, said he had thought the case would end in a mistrial because jury deliberations lasted more than two weeks.
“It’s a surprise and very disappointing frankly,” Peretti said, adding that his client was “a little bit stunned.” He and Mackey’s lawyer, Gary Sirbu, said they planned to appeal.
The prosecution’s key witness in the murder trial of both men was bakery handyman Devaughndre Broussard, 23, who admitted that he fatally shot Bailey and Roberson, but said he did so because Bey ordered him to in exchange for a line of credit.
Broussard also implicated Mackey in all three murders, saying Mackey killed Wills at Bey’s direction and participated in the fatal shootings of Bailey and Roberson.
Broussard had been charged with two counts of murder, but prosecutors allowed him to plead guilty to two counts of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter in exchange for his testimony against Bey and Mackey.
Broussard could have faced life in prison without the possibility of parole, but his plea agreement calls for him to receive a 25-year state prison term.
Defense lawyers Peretti and Sirbu questioned Broussard’s credibility, saying he was “a cold-blooded killer” who killed for sport and had doctored his testimony in exchange for the plea deal.
But Krum told jurors that although Broussard was an admitted killer and wasn’t a model witness, she thought they should believe him because other evidence in the case — such as guns and bullets that were recovered by police — corroborated his testimony.
Krum admitted in her closing arguments that Broussard was a “sociopath” who got a favorable deal with prosecutors, but she said, “Sometimes you’ve got to make a deal with the demon in order to get the devil.”
The two-and-a-half-month trial, which included more than 60 witnesses, had been delayed several times before finally getting under way in March. Bey’s two original lawyers resigned after prosecutors accused one of smuggling a hit list out of jail to prevent potential witnesses from testifying.
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. Wire services may have contributed to thsi report.)