Two defendants plead not guilty in Oakland journalist slaying case; 800 pages of testimony ordered released
By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — A judge on Thursday afternoon refused to impose a gag order on lawyers and others involved in the Chauncey Bailey murder case and also ordered the release of 800 pages of grand jury testimony.
Attorneys representing accused killers Yusef Bey IV and Antoine Mackey opposed both of Superior Court Judge Morris Jacobson’s decisions.
Also Thursday, Bey IV and Mackey each pleaded not guilty to triple murder charges.
They were indicted in April after Devaughndre Broussard, a follower of Bey IV’s at the defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery, admitted he killed Bailey and another man at Bey IV’s order.
Broussard also told a grand jury that Mackey admitted to him killing another man, Michael Wills, also at Bey IV’s order. Broussard also testified that Mackey drove the getaway vehicle in the Bailey slaying.
Jacobson said he expects them to stand trial sometime next year.
Defense lawyers, citing the Web site of the Chauncey Bailey Project, a coalition of media organizations that has published dozens of stories about the killing, asked Jacobson to make a permanent and provisional gag order in the case.
Gary Sirbu, Mackey’s lawyer, said he believed both defendants’ rights to a fair trial have been jeopardized.
But Jacobson said the project’s work, “while very biased against” Bey IV and Mackey, did not approach the level of “clear and present danger or imminent threat” to their rights to a fair trial.
“I am unaware of a circus atmosphere,” the judge said. “I am not seeing cars being burned in the street.”
Jacobson urged the lawyers to agree among themselves not to talk with reporters and honor such an agreement.
Bey IV’s lawyer, Lorna Brown, said she was worried that the release of the grand jury transcript “puts us in a very difficult position” because the document will show one-sided testimony against the defendants.
“What you need to say to the press is ‘my client’s not guilty,'” Jacobson said.
Brown left the courtroom declining to speak to reporters who asked her for interviews.
Broussard told grand jurors that Bey IV wanted Bailey dead to stop him from writing an article for the Oakland Post about the bakery’s troubled finances and internal strife.
“If this killing was done to silence the work of a reporter, then this killing was one of the worst sorts I can imagine,” Jacobson said.
Jacobson also lifted a temporary gag order he issued June 16 on Bailey Project attorney Duffy Carolan. He imposed it after Carolan told a Chauncey Bailey Project reporter that the prosecutor in the case, Christopher Lamiero, announced during a meeting in Jacobson’s chambers that the death penalty would not be sought in the case.
Carolan was under no restriction to share the information. The reporter was her client.
Jacobson also ordered the release of the transcript of the grand jury testimony of Broussard and 14 other witnesses in April. He agreed to the release last month but gave defense lawyers a chance to appeal.
A state appellate panel on Monday summarily rejected an appeal by Sirbu.
Court clerks said Thursday they expect the 800-page document to be available to the public Monday.
Reach investigative reporter Thomas Peele at Tpeele@bayareanewsgroup.com.