Chauncey Bailey Project

Former Your Black Muslim Bakery member calls witnesses against him ‘liars’

Clockwise from bottom left: Richard Lewis, Yusuf Bey IV, Yusuf Bey V, Tamon Halfin. (CChing/CIR)
Clockwise from bottom left: Richard Lewis, Yusuf Bey IV, Yusuf Bey V, Tamon Halfin. (CChing/CIR)

Clockwise from bottom left: Richard Lewis, Yusuf Bey IV, Yusuf Bey V, Tamon Halfin. (CChing/CIR)

By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project

OAKLAND — A former member of Your Black Muslim Bakery on trial in connection with the kidnapping and torture of two women testified Monday that he had nothing to do with the incident and that numerous witnesses against him were liars.

Richard Lewis, 26, who is charged with 13 felonies and faces life in prison without parole if convicted, described a causal relationship with bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV, saying he was more “like a guest overstaying his welcome” than a member of Bey IV’s organization and sometimes broke its rules by drinking alcohol.

He repeatedly answered “no sir” when his attorney, Patrick Hetrick, asked him if he participated in planning and carrying out the attack on the women in May 2007. Two of Bey IV’s brothers, Yusuf Bey V, 23, and Joshua Bey, 22, who have pleaded guilty in the case, testified that Lewis was part of the crime.

Lewis was the only witness in his defense. Jurors could hear closing arguments Thursday.

Lewis said Joshua Bey and Bey V were lying, and that “Bey V is capable of being very believable.”

Bey V earlier told jurors that Bey IV, 24, hatched a plan to save the bakery from financial collapse by using a surplus police car bought at government auction to rob drug dealers. He, Bey IV and Lewis set out to rob a cocaine dealer on May 17, 2007, Bey V said, adding that Joshua Bey and another defendant, Tamon Halfin, 23, joined them. Bey IV had bragged the heist would net them $500,000, Bey V said.

But the plans went awry, Bey V said,and they ended up kidnapping the women instead. One of them was a customer of the dealer. A police officer happened on the scene and rescued the women.
Lewis testified that he was at the bakery the night of the alleged crime.

Under cross-examination by prosecutor Christopher Lamiero, Lewis repeatedly claimed to be a scapegoat. He said five witnesses — including three police officers — lied under oath, and he told jurors that police planted a gun and two kinds of ammunition in his belongings when police raided the bakery on Aug. 3, 2007.

The ammunition included the banana-shaped clip from an AK-47 assault rifle found in what Lewis described as a duffle bag where he kept personal items, including his birth certificate. Bey V and Joshua Bey both testified that he carried an AK-47 during an attack on the women.

“It wasn’t there the last time I looked,” he said of the banana clip found in his bag.

“Are you saying the police planted it?” Lamiero asked.

“Yes,” Lewis replied.

Lamiero said a .9 mm bullet and a .22 caliber rifle were also found among Lewis’ belongings. Lewis said police planted them also.

Lewis also said his name was not on a search warrant police showed him that required he give them a DNA sample. The officer who served the warrant had testified that Lewis’s name was on it and that Lewis resisted giving the sample and had to be held down while his mouth was swabbed.

Lamiero showed Lewis a copy of the warrant Monday. Lewis’s name was on it, but he insisted that it was not the document shown to him when the DNA sample was taken. Lamiero asked him if he resisted giving the sample because he feared a DNA link to the crime.

An evidence technician testified that Lewis’ DNA and DNA found on a knife recovered at the crime scene each match with roughly one out 3,000 people. Lewis’ lawyer has called the match weak.

Lewis insisted that he refused to give the sample willingly because his name was not on the warrant.

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