OAKLAND (CBS SF) — The trial of former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV on three counts of murder turned chaotic Monday when a key witness was late to court, a juror was removed from the case and a defense lawyer asked that the trial be moved to another location.
In addition, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon barred reporters and spectators from entering or leaving his packed courtroom once court was in session, saying there had been too much commotion and he didn’t want jurors to be distracted.
KCBS’ Dave Padilla Reports:
Bey and bakery associate Antoine Mackey, both 25, are each charged with three counts of murder for the deaths of journalist Chauncey Bailey and two other men in Oakland in the summer of 2007.
Their trial, which was only in session one day last week because a juror was sick, was delayed for an hour Monday because Alameda County sheriff’s deputies forgot to pick up key prosecution witness Devaughndre Broussard, 23, at the county jail and bring him to court. They eventually sent another bus to bring him to court.
When he resumed his testimony in his third day on the witness stand, Broussard matter-of-factly described how he shot Bailey, 57, three times near the corner of 14th and Alice streets the morning of Aug. 2, 2007.
According to previous testimony in the case, Bailey was walking from his apartment near Lake Merritt to his office at the Oakland Post, where he served as the paper’s editor.
Broussard said he shot Bailey three times because he wanted to make sure that Bailey was killed because Bey told him Bailey “wasn’t supposed to live.”
Broussard testified last week that Bey told him that he wanted to have Bailey killed to prevent him from writing a story about the bakery’s financial problems.
The bakery was in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings when Bailey was killed and closed its doors later in 2007.
Broussard pleaded guilty in May 2009 to two counts of voluntary manslaughter for killing Bailey and one of the other victims in the case and has been promised a 25-year state prison term in exchange for his testimony against Bey and Mackey, who are both 25.
He initially was charged with murder for Bailey’s death and could have faced life in prison if he’d been convicted of that charge.
Prosecutor Melissa Krum told jurors in her opening statement two weeks ago that Bey ordered the murders of the three victims in the case in order to benefit the bakery.
Reardon removed one of the jurors in the case after the lunch break Monday. He told the remaining jurors that the reason for the removal was “irrelevant” to them.
But in a hearing in open court at the end of the day, after jurors had gone home, Mackey’s lawyer, Gary Sirbu, disclosed that the reason the juror was excused was that he feared for his safety if jurors convicted Bey and Mackey.
Sirbu said that “fear is in every juror’s mind,” and he said he wanted to renew a defense motion, which previously had been denied by Reardon, to move the trial away from Alameda County on the grounds that they cannot get a fair trial locally because of all the publicity the case has received.
But Reardon denied the motion again, saying that the fear issue was only “a coincidence” and “is unlikely to recur.”
The judge explained that the juror who was excused is an Alameda County employee who works at the Fairmont Hospital in San Leandro and is treating a person named Yusuf Bey who is a relative of Yusuf Bey IV.
Under questioning by Krum, Broussard said he initially told Oakland police that he acted on his own in killing Bailey because Bey had told him that he should take the fall so that other bakery members would go free and the bakery would be saved.
Broussard said Bey told him, “I was being tested by God, and I would be proving my faith by sacrificing.”
But Broussard said he eventually agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and implicate Bey and Mackey in the crimes because Bey had reneged on his promise to give him financial help and provide him a lawyer.
“I felt like I was let down,” Broussard said.
Broussard said he believed that Bey should be held criminally responsible because he had gotten bakery members in trouble with the law because of the things he wanted people to do for him, such as “the shootings of cars, other dealings with guns and murder cases.”
Under cross-examination by Bey’s lawyer, Gene Peretti, Broussard admitted that he had killed Bailey and another victim in a cold-blooded fashion.
“They didn’t mean anything to me,” Broussard said.
But Broussard denied Peretti’s suggestion that Bey had only told him to cooperate with police by telling them the truth about Bailey’s death and never asked him to lie.
During a break in court Monday, Bailey’s brother Errol Cooley said Broussard’s testimony about killing Bailey upset him because Broussard was “nonchalant” about it.
Cooley said he thinks Broussard should serve more than 25 years in prison, but he said he also thinks that Broussard “is just a pawn” in the case and the important thing is to get a full explanation of why the killing occurred.
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