Chauncey Bailey family makes plea to judge: Don’t move murder trial
By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — It is the “strongest wish” of the siblings and father of slain journalist Chauncey Bailey that two men charged in his killing be tried in Alameda County, they wrote in a letter to the judge deciding a change of venue motion.
“Moving this trial would be an injustice,” they said in a letter sent Friday to Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon. He is expected to rule this week on whether to move the case out of the Bay Area because of what defense lawyers call relentless news coverage.
Bailey’s survivors said they have an “endless amount of questions” about his slaying Aug. 2, 2007, by Devaughndre Broussard, a self-described “good soldier” of the now-defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery. Broussard pleaded guilty last year and told a grand jury that former bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV ordered the killing to stop Bailey from writing a story about the bakery’s finances and inner strife.
Bailey’s brother, Mark Cooley, sent the letter Friday to prosecutor Melissa Krum, who sent it to Reardon and defense lawyers. Cooley said the letter contained the sentiments of his siblings, Errol Cooley and Lorelie Waqia, and those of Bailey’s father, Chauncey Sr.
Krum said she found the letter contained “very appropriate sentiments” and “valid opinions” of the victim’s family.
However, Gene Peretti, Bey IV’s lawyer, said he and Gary Sirbu, who represents co-defendant Antoine Mackey, will ask Reardon not to consider the letter.
“They are not a party to the motion and have no standing whatsoever,” Peretti said Monday. “We are assuming the judge won’t consider it.”
Cooley said his intention was simply to speak his mind and express frustration of repeated delays in the case. Bey IV and Mackey were not charged until 21 months after the killing, and Bey IV has had three lawyers. Krum replaced Christopher Lamiero, the original prosecutor on the case, who sought a transfer to a position that would allow him to spend more time with his family.
In his letter, Cooley noted that Friday marked the 1,039th day since his brother’s killing.
On Monday, he pointed out that Bailey Sr., 91, lives in Des Moines, Iowa, and is anxious to see the case closed.
“It isn’t like he can just pop out here from Iowa any time he wants,” Cooley said. “Closure would make his (Bailey Sr.’s) life a little more comfortable.”
Peretti and Sirbu contended during hearings last week that potential jurors in Alameda County have been saturated with news coverage about that case. A consultant for the defense, who conducted a telephone poll in the county, testified that he found 70 percent of respondents think Bey IV and Mackey are either likely or definitely guilty.
Reardon, who would preside over the trial if it is not moved, seemed skeptical of defense arguments, saying it seemed possible that fair jurors could be found in a large county. Krum argued that moving the trial should only occur if seating an impartial panel here proved impossible.
Cooley said he simply wants the trial to happen quickly in the city his brother loved.
“We’ve suffered more than anyone else involved,” he said. “Those who suffer the most are accommodated the least. We’re raising our hands in the back of the room. We’re saying ‘we’re back here.'”
Contact Thomas Peele at email@example.com.