Antar Bey assassinated, defense lawyer tells court
By Paul T. Rosynsky, Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — Killing the leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery is like killing the godfather of an organized crime family, defense attorney Leonard Ulfelder said Tuesday as he wrapped up his closing arguments suggesting the 2005 killing of bakery leader Antar Bey was an assassination — not a failed carjacking as the prosecution has said.
“If you are going to carjack someone, you don’t carjack the leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery,” Ulfelder said. “That’s like carjacking Tony Soprano in New Jersey.'”Saving his long-held theory for last, Ulfelder spent the last moments of his closing arguments suggesting an alternative motive was involved in the slaying. It was not a poorly planned carjacking, he said, but a well-executed assassination.
Although no direct evidence was presented at trial that a third party might be responsible for Bey’s death, Ulfelder used his closing arguments to suggest someone else was responsible for the murder rather than his client Alfonza Phillips.
And he vaguely brought up the Aug. 2 slaying of Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey, which police say was conducted by a member of the bakery, as an example of what the organization is capable of.
“This is a type of blatant, bold killing that has come all too familiar recently,” Ulfelder said. “This is about an intentional killing. This isn’t a carjacking gone bad.”
Antar Bey’s death on Oct. 25, 2005, came as the Bey family was immersed in what police described as a family civil war. About a year before he was gunned down, Antar Bey’s predecessor in the bakery hierarchy was killed in what police believed was an assassination.
Ulfelder’s closing came on the heels of a published report that suggested current bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV and Oakland Police Sgt. Derwin Longmire, a homicide detective, have a personal relationship.
The relationship was revealed during a taped conversation Bey IV had with co-defendants in an unrelated case in which Bey IV is heard saying that he escaped a murder charge because of his friendship with Longmire, who was also a homicide detective in Antar Bey’s case.
Holding that report in his hand, Ulfelder attempted to re-open the murder trial, saying he would have tried his case differently if he had known of the relationship and would have asked Longmire more questions when he was on the stand.
Oakland Assistant Police Chief Howard Jordan said the police department would not comment on assertions in the report, which said that Bey IV told bakery associates he was not implicated in Bailey’s death because of his close ties to Longmire.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jon Rolefson denied Ulfelder’s request to reopen the trial, agreeing with Deputy District Attorney Colleen McMahon that a newspaper article is not a proof of fact.
The debate over the report came outside the presence of the jury.
When the jury was finally brought into the courtroom, McMahon began closing arguments saying the case against Phillips has more evidence than most murder cases in Oakland.
And that evidence points toward Phillips’ guilt, she said.
McMahon said police had at least four pieces of solid evidence that undisputedly reveal Phillips is the man who killed Antar Bey just to get his hands on the 22-inch rims outfitting Bey’s BMW 745i.
“It all adds up,” McMahon said repeatedly. “The defendant was cold, he was callous, he was deliberate on that fateful day.”
McMahon admitted it might be hard to believe someone would kill another just for rims but, she said, “People are killed for car rims in Oakland.”
During trial, McMahon presented evidence, including an eyewitness who identified Phillips as the shooter; a surveillance camera that shows a man who resembles Phillips’ physique walking toward Bey at the gas station; two witnesses who say Phillips confessed to them; and a fingerprint left on the car that matched the fingerprint on Phillips’ left middle finger.
“You can see that it is true by watching that surveillance video, you know it is true from what (eyewitness) Daryl Flood told you,” McMahon said, reminding the jury of previous testimony. “(Phillips) confessed to the murder; he confessed to (an informant); he confessed to (his girlfriend) Althea Foy.
“This case is a whodunnit case,” McMahon continued. “Alfonza Phillips is responsible for killing Antar Bey.”
But Ulfelder said it made no sense.
If it was a carjacking case, Ulfelder said, then why did the killer shoot Bey in the back? If Bey was running from the scene, why didn’t the killer just run to the car and get in? Ulfelder asked.
In addition, he asked, if it was a carjacking, why did it occur at a lighted gas station with dozens of people around as potential witnesses?
And finally, Ulfelder asked, if Phillips did kill Antar Bey, then why was he not armed when police finally arrested him about a month later?
“If I did it, I’d have me a Mac 90 (assault rifle) and I would be sleeping with it, if I killed Antar Bey the leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery,” Ulfelder said. “You’re gonna hold on to (a gun) because you are going to have to use it real soon.”
Relatives of Bey sighed and gasped as Ulfelder compared the family to the fictional mafia boss Tony Soprano. At times they shook their heads and looked with disgust as Ulfelder suggested to the jury the bakery was a violent organization.
But Ulfelder did not focus on just his theory during closing arguments. He also talked about the evidence presented in the case and said it did not prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that his client is guilty.
An analysis that matched the fingerprint found at the scene with that of Phillips’ middle finger was flawed, Ulfelder said.
An eyewitness who identified Phillips during the trial and in a preliminary hearing could not have seen the facial features of the shooter from his vantage point about a half a football field away, the defense attorney said.
And a police informant who told police that Phillips bragged to him about the slaying has only one motive — to get a lesser sentence for a robbery charge the informant is now facing, Ulfelder said.
“This case is riddled with reasonable doubt, it is probably the best example of reasonable doubt we have,” Ulfelder said. “Under these circumstances, the case has not been proven.”
McMahon will rebut Ulfelder’s closing arguments today.
Oakland Tribune staff writer Kelly Rayburn contributed to this report. Contact Paul Rosysnky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-208-6455.