Yusuf Bey IV, the former head of the infamous Oakland institution Your Black Muslim Bakery, was convicted of three counts of first degree murder today, including the murder of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey. Bey’s co-defendent, Antoine Mackey, was also convicted of Bailey’s murder as well as another count of first degree murder for the shooting of Michael Wills, Jr.
Bey’s defense attorney, Gene Peretti, said he was disappointed, and described Bey as “a little bit stunned” by the verdict. Peretti argued in his closing statements that prosecutors did not have sufficient evidence to prove Bey’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and that Bailey’s confessed shooter, Devaughndre Broussard, had concocted a story that Bey ordered him to kill Bailey and another man, Odell Roberson, in order to receive a more lenient sentence from prosecutors. Broussard will serve a 25 year sentence in exchange for his testimony, reduced from the possibility of life without parole.
Mackey’s attorney Gary Sirbu said that the verdict indicated that the jury believed most of Broussard’s testimony, but pointed out that the jury could not reach a decision on Mackey’s involvement in Roberson’s murder. Broussard had testified that Mackey assisted him in murdering Roberson, but the jury was split 8-4 on whether Mackey was guilty of that charge.
Sirbu said he will file for a mistrial and appeal the case because he believes that Mackey should have been tried separately from Bey. He said he believed that being tried alongside Bey, and having evidence presented about crimes committed by the bakery before Mackey joined in 2007, affected the ultimate outcome of the case. Sirbu held that his client was innocent, and described Mackey as a “courageous young guy” and “respectful of the criminal justice system.” Sirbu also praised the diligence of the jury in reaching their verdict. “That jury took a long time to get where they got. They considered the evidence carefully,” he said.
Derrick Nesbitt, a former colleague of Bailey’s at KSBT Soul Beat Television said he was pleased with the verdict, but lamented that Bailey’s unique voice in Oakland has been lost. “Chauncey Bailey hasn’t been replaced,” he said.
The verdict has taken years to be delivered. After Bailey’s murder at around 7 AM on August 2, 2007, police raided Your Black Muslim Bakery the following morning and arrested Bey, Mackey, Broussard and several other bakery members. At first, only Broussard was charged with Bailey’s murder, after he confessed following a six minute meeting with Bey allowed by police while the two were in custody. Broussard now says that he was coerced by Bey into confessing and claiming to act alone. Prosecutors said that Bey had ordered Broussard to assassinate Bailey in order to silence an article Bailey was preparing for the Oakland Post regarding bankruptcy proceedings faced by the bakery, and allegations of fraud in its leadership. Broussard also testified that the three men planned the murder together, and that Mackey drove him to commit the murder.
The prosecution relied heavily on Broussard’s testimony to provide the details of how and why Bey and Mackey were involved in the three murders, but corroborated his testimony with ballistics evidence, eyewitness accounts, video of Bey discussing the murder in custody, and GPS data from a tracker placed in Bey’s car.