Prosecutor calls bakery leader’s death a carjacking gone wrong
The slaying of Your Black Muslim Bakery’s Antar Bey wasn’t linked to family political struggle, attorney says.
By Paul T. Rosynsky, Chauncey Bailey Project
Antar Bey two years ago was a simple carjacking gone wrong, fueled by the suspect’s desire to get new rims for his girlfriend’s car, the prosecutor in the murder trial said this morning.
So, when suspect Alfonza Phillips saw Bey drive his 745i BMW into the 76 Union gas station on Martin Luther King Jr. Way on Oct. 25, 2005, he saw the perfect opportunity to score a prize for his roughly three-month-long mate, said Colleen McMahon, a deputy district attorney. “He had his eyes on Antar, but he really had his eyes on that fancy car with those fancy rims,” McMahon said.
As Bey talked on his cell phone, Phillips walked up to him, pointed a .45 magnum handgun at him and shot Bey once in the back.
“The defendant murdered Antar Bey for a very callous, senseless yet simple reason,” McMahon told a jury of 10 men and two women, “to steal the 22-inch rims.”
When Bey was killed, police believe the Your Black Muslim Bakery was in the midst of a civil war, but prosecutors and police have said they don’t believe Antar Bey’s death was tied to the bakery’s internal struggle.
Bey, 23, a member of a younger faction of the bakery and son of founder Yusuf Bey, had taken control of the operation in 2004, just days after his predecessor, Waajid Aljawwaad Bey, disappeared. Aljawwaad Bey’s body was later found in a shallow grave. Police believe he was the victim of an assassination. In June 2005, another family leader, John Bey, had been shot several times in a failed assassination attempt. A group of young men fired shotguns and handguns at him as he ran through Montclair screaming for help.While police initially believed Antar Bey’s killing was part of the war, they soon focused on Phillips.
McMahon told the jury Monday that evidence directed police toward Phillips, who was unsuccessful in his attempts to get Bey’s car.
After Phillips allegedly shot Bey, he ran to the car to try to drive away, but couldn’t because the keys to the $75,000 car with $5,000 rims was still in the hand of a dying Bey.
Instead, Phillips ran away as Bey struggled to stay alive.
“You can see him fall to the ground, his body flaying around, literally like a fish out of water,” McMahon said.
A security camera at the gas station captured parts of the event. It shows a man walking up to Bey and then shows the man trying to drive away in the car. That video was shown to the jury Monday morning.
Police found one fingerprint on the car that matched that of Phillip’s left middle finger, McMahon said.
McMahon also said a witness at the scene identified Phillips as the shooter. And, she said, the trial will show that the step-father to the girl Phillips was dating told police that Phillips told him he had killed Bey. The girlfriend also said Phillips told her he had killed the bakery leader.
But Phillips’ defense attorney Leonard Ulfelder disagreed with McMahon’s version of events and said the evidence the jury will be presented with can be easily disputed.
“There is a lack of credible evidence,” Ulfelder said. “The killing of Antar Bey was not a random carjacking, but a deliberate assassination by a group with a motive.”
Ulfelder said witnesses who pinned the murder on his client have questionable reputations, or were coerced by police into placing the blame on the then 20-year-old.
The main witness is a drug-addicted police informant who is now in jail on robbery and grand theft, Ulfelder said. Meanwhile, the girlfriend claims she was threatened by police that if she did not pin the crime on her boyfriend the police would tell the bakery, whose members would attack her and her family, he said.
“They told her a swarm of Muslims would come after her and her family,” Ulfelder said. “She was so frightened and so upset she started to menstruate.”
Further, Ulfelder said, the fingerprint matching Phillips to the crime was not a perfect match. In fact, he said, when police initially scanned the fingerprint found at the scene into a computer database of known felons, the computer spat out 10 potential matches — none of which were Phillips, the defense attorney said.