Bakery leader, other defendants enter pleas again in kidnap-torture case
By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — A second preliminary hearing on kidnapping and torture charges against former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV and three co-defendants could begin next week under a schedule set by a Superior Court judge on Wednesday.
Bey IV, Richard Lewis, Tamon Halfin, and Yusuf Bey V entered not guilty pleas through their lawyers Wednesday.
They face life sentences if convicted of kidnapping two women and torturing one of them in May 2007.
Bey IV is also suspected of ordering the killing of journalist Chauncey Bailey three months later, but remains uncharged in that case. Another of his followers, Devaughndre Broussard, is scheduled to stand trial next month for Bailey’s slaying.
A judge last week issued a surprise ruling from the bench and threw out on legal technicalities a preliminary hearing in the kidnapping case that concluded last year. The ruling invalidated a decision that enough evidence existed for Bey IV and the others to stand trial.
As the kidnapping case began to again churn through the legal system Wednesday, the lawyer for Lewis said his client would waive his right to another preliminary hearing, potentially splitting from the other defendants.
But Deputy District Attorney Scott Patton objected to the position of Lewis’ attorney, Patrick Hetrick.
“There are potential problems to have this case bifurcated,” Patton said.
Judge Robert McGuiness said he would decide by Monday whether Lewis must participate in another preliminary hearing.
In a surprise ruling from the bench last week, Judge Thomas Reardon threw out a preliminary hearing that concluded last year and ordered that the case against Bey IV, Lewis and Tamon Halfin and Yusuf Bey V start over.
The four are charged with using a car modified to look like a police cruiser to pull over the women on I-580 in Oakland on May 17, 2007, putting bags over the victims’ heads and taking them to a house in East Oakland. There, Halfin is alleged to have held the mother in a car while the other three defendants took the daughter in the house and beat her in an attempt to learn the location of a stash of drug money.
A police officer happened on the scene and rescued the women. Her alleged attackers escaped but were later arrested.
During tearful testimony at the now moot earlier hearing, the daughter testified she was terrified and that her attackers threatened her with a hot curling iron.
A fifth defendant, Joshua Bey, pleaded guilty last year and testified against the others.
The four remaining suspects all pleaded not guilty Wednesday and are being held without bail.
Patton said Wednesday that Joshua Bey and the victim would not have to testify at the second preliminary hearing. Rather, transcripts of their earlier testimony will be used, he said.
McGuiness said the rehearing would begin April 23, but Bey IV’s lawyer, Annie Beles, said she may seek a delay. Another attorney represented Bey IV at the last hearing and Beles said she may need time to study the matter.
Thomas Peele is an investigative reporter for the Bay Area News Group. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.