Bey IV’s attorney argues unsuccessfully to ban public, media from preliminary
By Paul Rosynsky, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — A judge ruled against an attorney representing Yusuf Bey IV, leader of the now-defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery, who attempted Tuesday to ban the public from Bey IV’s preliminary hearing on charges of kidnapping and torture.
Saying Bey IV’s chances of a fair and impartial hearing were dwindling by the day, defense attorney Anne Beles argued to a judge that her client’s second preliminary hearing should be closed to the public and media.
“I don’t believe I have seen “… a man subject to more pretrial publicity than Mr. Bey,” Beles said. “I can’t think of a week that has gone by where all the local papers did not have extensive coverage.”
Beles made her arguments at the start of the second preliminary hearing for Bey IV in connection to a 2007 case in which Bey IV and four other members of the bakery are accused of using a fake police cruiser to kidnap two women and then torture one of them in hopes of recovering cash.
A second preliminary hearing became necessary this month when a judge temporarily dismissed charges against the group because of a legal technicality. The ruling forced the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office to recharge the defendants and begin the legal process from the start.
While three other defendants, Tamon Halfin, 22, Richard Lewis, 25, and Yusuf Bey V, 23, agreed to waive their right to a second preliminary hearing, Bey IV demanded to have a second hearing. The fourth bakery member charged in the case, Joshua Bey, took a plea deal last year in which he agreed to testify against the group in exchange for a lesser punishment.
Beles argued in court that her client’s reported connection to the killing of journalist Chauncey Bailey was placing an unfair prejudice on the preliminary hearing and polluting a future jury that would decide Bey IV’s fate in the kidnapping and torture case.
Just after a judge ruled that Bey IV and others deserved a second preliminary hearing, newspapers began reporting that a bakery handyman was scheduled to tell a criminal grand jury that Bey IV ordered Bailey’s killing.
Beles cited those reports in arguing that her client has been subject to an amount of publicity that can harm his chances of finding a fair and impartial jury to decide the case.
“Mr. Bey has little to no hope that the press has not tainted the jury pool already,” she said.
Deputy district attorney Scott Patton argued against Beles’ motion, saying much of the evidence that will be presented in the second hearing had already been reported in the media.
“There is nothing new that is going to come out,” Patton said.
While Alameda County Superior Court Judge Joseph Hurley agreed that Bey IV’s right to a fair trial must be considered, he refused to ban the public and media from the hearing. Instead, Hurley said he would listen to tape recordings and watch videos related to the case in private, so as not to bias the potential jury pool.
One of those videos is of Bey IV and two other bakery members sitting in a police interview room talking both about the Bailey killing and about the kidnapping and torture of the women.
Hurley agreed to watch the tapes privately in his chambers and then argued with Beles in the afternoon about what portions of the tape should be submitted as evidence and which served as prejudice against her client.
Beles argued that any mention of the Bailey killing or other cases the group discussed should not be introduced as evidence.
Hurley ruled that the entire tape should be submitted as evidence.
Hurley also appears ready to deny a motion by Beles to have Joshua Bey testify again today.
Beles said she has a right to question Joshua Bey but Hurley argued that Beles can get the information she seeks from the transcript of Bey’s first testimony last year during the first preliminary hearing.
Beles, Patton and David Washington, Joshua Bey’s attorney, will argue in court this morning about whether Joshua Bey will be forced to testify.
“I wouldn’t want to bet on if he testifies,” Hurley said.