OAKLAND (CBS SF) — A judge Wednesday postponed the sentencing for former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV and an associate because of concerns about whether the prosecution’s key witness in the case committed perjury.
Bey, 25 was convicted on June 9 of three counts of first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of journalist Chauncey Bailey and two other men in Oakland in the summer of 2007. Bakery associate Antoine Mackey, also 25, was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder but jurors deadlocked on a third murder charge against him.
Both men were also convicted of the special circumstance of committing multiple murders, face life in prison without the possibility of parole and were scheduled to be sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon on Friday.
But Wednesday Reardon postponed the sentencing and instead scheduled a hearing for Aug. 12 to find out what San Francisco attorney LeRue Grim meant when he told reporters for the Bay Area News Group on June 10, the day after the verdicts, that his client, key prosecution witness Devaughndre Broussard, may have committed “a little bit of fabrication” in his testimony.
Defense attorneys Gene Peretti, who represents Bey, and Gary Sirbu, who represents Mackey, said in a recent motion that, “Taken in context, the only reasonable construction of the meaning of Mr. Grim’s comment is that his client (Broussard) may have committed perjury.”
Peretti and Sirbu also said Bey and Mackey “have a statutory right to move for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence,” which is Grim’s statement to the Bay Area News Group.
Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Melissa Krum, the case’s prosecutor, said Wednesday, “Our office is equally interested in making sure that the truth was present at the trial but we are confident that an investigation will not change the verdicts and the sentencing.”
Krum said Grim’s statements to the newspaper group were “somewhat vague,” but in subsequent interviews with her office Grim has said he believes Broussard’s testimony was truthful.
Grim could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Krum told jurors in her closing argument in the highly publicized case that Bey ordered the three victims to be murdered because of financial pressure, revenge and racial hatred.
Krum said Bey ordered the killing of Bailey, 57, to prevent him from writing an article about the bakery’s financial problems.
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.
Krum said Bey was also upset at Bailey for writing articles about the child molestation charges that his father, bakery founder Yusuf Bey, was facing at the time of his death at age 67 in 2003.
The prosecutor said Bey ordered that Odell Roberson Jr., 31, be killed on July 8, 2007, 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 the third victim, 36-year-old Michael Wills, be killed on July 12, 2007, 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.
Broussard, 23, admitted during the trial that he fatally shot Bailey and Roberson, but said he did so because Bey ordered him to.
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.
Mackey was convicted of first-degree murder for the deaths of Bailey and Wills but jurors deadlocked on the murder charge he faced for Roberson’s death.
Broussard had been charged with two counts of murder, but on May 7, 2009, 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.
Broussard is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 12, the same day that Reardon will have the hearing on whether he committed perjury, but it is now uncertain whether his sentencing will occur on that day or be postponed to a later date.
Peretti and Sirbu said in their closing arguments that their clients should be found not guilty because Broussard’s testimony was unreliable, as he gave several different versions of what happened when Bailey was killed.
But Krum told jurors that although Broussard is an admitted killer and was not a model witness, they could believe him because other evidence in the case—such as guns and bullets that were recovered by police—corroborates his testimony.
Reardon Wednesday ordered three reporters for the Bay Area News Group to appear at the Aug. 12 hearing.
An attorney who represents the reporters, Duffy Carolan, did not return a phone call Wednesday asking if the news organization will fight the judge’s order to have the reporters appear in court.
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