Defense: Lewis being framed in torture-kidnapping case
By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — Richard Lewis, the first member of Your Black Muslim Bakery to be tried in the 2007 kidnapping of two women and the torture of one of them, is being framed by other defendants “who are out to save their own skin,” his lawyer told a jury Tuesday.
“There is no credible evidence to tag Richard Lewis with this crime other than these two men who have been offered (plea) deals,” defense attorney Patrick Hetrick told jurors. Those men, Yusuf Bey V and Joshua Bey, “are snitches,” Hetrick added.
Both of the men faced life in prison without the possibility of parole until they cut deals to testify. Joshua Bey would receive a three-year sentence and Yusuf Bey V would get 10 years if they fully cooperate.
“Richard Lewis is being scapegoated in the time-honored tradition of blaming the other guy,” Hetrick said. He told the jury that he would discredit the testimony of both men during cross examination.
Joshua Bey, who has already testified during a preliminary examination, “changes his story every time he opens his mouth,” Hetrick said.
Hetrick’s 20-minute opening statement stood in contrast to deputy district attorney Christopher Lamiero, who took more than five hours to methodically describe evidence he told jurors they will hear and see.
Lewis is the first member of former bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV’s inner circle to be tried in connection to the numerous crimes linked to the bakery about the time it collapsed nearly three years ago.
Bey IV also is charged in the kidnapping and torture case and is scheduled to be tried with another defendant, Tamon Halfin, separately from Lewis. In addition, Bey IV is scheduled to be tried in May on triple murder charges for allegedly ordering the killing of journalist Chauncey Bailey and two other men in July and August 2007.
Lamiero told jurors that the kidnapping case was a desperate attempt by Bey IV to get money to help pay down the bakery’s massive debts. An Oakland drug dealer helped set up the two women, telling Bey IV that one of them would know where another drug dealer hid his money.
The women were pulled over on Interstate 580 the night of May 17, 2007, by Bey IV, Bey V and Lewis, who were driving what was once a University of California police car, according to police and court documents. Its flashing lights still worked, Lamiero told jurors.
Bags were put over the women’s heads, and they were taken at gunpoint to an East Oakland house. One was tied to a red wooden chair. The other was kept at gunpoint in a car, Lamiero said.
A police officer happened on the scene, saw what he thought was a police car and stopped to investigate. The five men fled, and the woman was rescued.
A large curved knife with studs around its handle like brass knuckles was found at the crime scene. DNA on the knife cannot be excluded as Lewis’,Lamiero told the jury Tuesday morning. However, Hetrick called that evidence flimsy. One out of roughly every 3,500 people could be matched to the DNA sample, he said, adding that it has “very little weight” when considered on its own.
Hetrick said in both cases, the men are highly motivated to lie about Lewis’ involvement. “This is an attempt to blame someone else for this crime,” he said.
Earlier Tuesday, Lamiero read jurors a transcript to a telephone call that Lewis made to his brother shortly after being arrested in 2007. In the call, Lewis said he would beat the charges unless “someone implicates me.” Earlier that year, a jury in San Francisco acquitted him on murder charges after an incriminating statement he gave police was thrown out on technicalities.
He had waited more than two years to be tried in that case and told his brother he feared that if some involved in the kidnapping case chose to cooperate with prosecutors “my dumb ass is going to sit (in jail) all over again.”