OAKLAND — Former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV — who a prosecutor said terrorized Oakland — was convicted Thursday of three counts of murder for ordering journalist Chauncey Bailey and two other men killed in summer 2007.
Bey IV’s co-defendant, Antoine Mackey, was convicted of helping confessed killer Devaughndre Broussard hunt down Bailey and also of killing another man, Michael Wills. The jury deadlocked on whether Mackey helped Broussard kill the third victim, Odell Roberson.
Bey IV and Mackey, both 25, face life in prison without possibility of parole. Judge Thomas Reardon has scheduled sentencing for July 8. Defense lawyers are promising appeals.
Bey IV, in a dark, pinstriped suit and trademark bow tie of his Black Muslim faith, stared straight ahead as the verdict was read. Mackey stared at the ceiling.
The jury of seven women and five men began deliberations May 23 after nine weeks of testimony from more than 75 witnesses.
Bailey, editor of the Oakland Post, was gunned down Aug. 2, 2007, on his way to work in downtown Oakland. Broussard told officials that Bey IV ordered the death to stop the journalist from publishing an article about the bakery’s financial troubles. “We gotta take him out before he write that story,” Broussard said Bey IV told him when ordering Bailey killed.
Broussard accepted a plea deal in exchange for his testimony and is expected to be sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Broussard also confessed to killing Roberson, 31, on July 8, 2007. Bey IV ordered that killing, Broussard said, in retaliation because Roberson was related to a man convicted of killing Bey IV’s older brother. Wills, a 36-year-old sous chef, was killed July 12, 2007, as he walked to a corner store. After Wills’ death, Mackey and Bey IV bragged they killed a “white devil.”
Bailey, 57, was the first journalist killed over a domestic story in the United States since 1976, when Don Bolles of The Arizona Republic died in a car bombing.
After Bailey’s death, a coalition of local media, including the Bay Area News Group, joined in the Chauncey Bailey Project, an investigative group that looked into the case and the Oakland Police Department’s handling of it.
“From the very first meeting that led to the creation of the Chauncey Bailey Project, there were two goals,” said Robert Rosenthal, executive editor of the Chauncey Bailey Project and head of the Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting. “One was to continue Chauncey’s work and to make sure that when a journalist is murdered because of their work justice is served. There is no doubt that the work of the project helped keep law enforcement focused on this case, and revealed facts and evidence that may have never been disclosed. Today’s verdict is a reminder that journalists do make a difference and that their work is crucial to our democracy.”
After a decade-long stint at the Detroit News, Bailey joined the Oakland Tribune in 1993 and was fired from the paper in 2005 for ethical violations. He had been appointed editor of the Oakland Post, a free circulation weekly paper covering the city’s African-American community, only weeks before his death.
He had written but not published a story about the bakery’s 2006 bankruptcy filing that a judge had recently converted from reorganization to liquidation. Post Publisher Paul Cobb had rejected the story, claiming it didn’t contain enough attribution.
At the time, police suspected bakery members were involved in two other killings as well as the kidnapping of two women and the torture of one of them. Police had planned to raid the bakery compound the day before Bailey’s murder, but delayed to accommodate the vacation scheduled of two senior SWAT commanders.
When they carried out the operation the day after Bailey’s death, Broussard threw the shotgun out his bedroom window and was arrested. He repeatedly told police he didn’t kill Bailey, but Bey IV, in separate interviews with detectives, claimed Broussard had told him he committed the murder.
Broussard told jurors that Bey IV convinced him to give a flawed confession. “He said I was being tested by God,” Broussard said. He said he was promised a Bey-family lawyer, money and a light jail sentence in exchange for protecting Bey IV from charges he ordered the killing.
Police said within days that they didn’t believe Broussard acted alone, but did not investigate other suspects vigorously. Bey IV and Mackey were not charged in Bailey’s killing until April 2009, after Broussard agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
When he finally testified against his former friends, Broussard laughed as he described how he shot Roberson and acted in what defense lawyers described as a bizarre manner, sometimes taking a minute or more to answer a question.
During breaks in his testimony he often rocked back and forth in the witness chair and appeared to be muttering to himself with his eyes closed. Deputy District Attorney Melissa Krum said Broussard was far from the perfect witness, telling jurors he was a sociopath, but, in effect, was chosen by Bey IV, not her.
“Sometimes you have to make a deal with a demon to get the devil,” she said in her closing argument, pointing at Bey IV as she said the last word.
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