Questioning foreshadows blistering attack on credibility of star witness in Bailey murder trial
By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — A day before the prosecution’s star witness — Devaughndre Broussard — is called to the stand in the Chauncey Bailey murder trial, a defense lawyer foreshadowed a bit of what is expected to be a blistering attack on Broussard’s credibility.
Prosecutors say Broussard confessed to killing the journalist on the order of the leader of the former Your Black Muslim Bakery, Yusuf Bey IV. Broussard has pleaded guilty in the case and is to be sentenced to 25 years in prison in exchange for his testimony.
On Wednesday, Bey IV’s court-appointed attorney, Gene Peretti, asked Oakland Police Officer Bruce Christensen seemingly minor questions about photographs he took in Broussard’s bedroom at the bakery compound on San Pablo Avenue the day after Bailey was slain.
Did he see or take pictures of anything that looked like a shotgun blast to a wall? Peretti asked.
Christensen said he didn’t recall seeing or photographing anything like that.
Outside court, Peretti said the questions were meant to set the basis for asking Broussard about a statement to prosecutors two years ago in which he said he accidentally fired the murder weapon in his bedroom hours before the killing.
Broussard did not describe the blast in detail or say if the shell he fired was a slug or a load of pellets.
Prosecutor Melissa Krum declined to discuss the matter outside of court and didn’t question Christensen about it.
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Peretti, and Gary Sirbu, the lawyer for co-defendant Antoine Mackey, have said much of their case will center on Broussard’s credibility.
Broussard, now 24, has admitted killing Bailey and another man, Odell Roberson, in the summer 2007 and testified to a grand jury that Bey IV ordered the hits. He also testified that Mackey helped in the Bailey and Roberson slayings and that Mackey bragged about shooting a third man to death, Michael Wills, at Bey IV’s order.
Bey IV and Mackey, both 25, are being tried together in the triple-murder case and face life in prison without parole if convicted. They have pleaded not guilty.
Broussard told grand jurors that Bey IV wanted Bailey, editor of the Oakland Post, killed to stop him from publishing a story about the bakery’s financial troubles. In exchange, he said, Bey IV promised to teach him and Mackey how to get rich through fraudulent credit applications.
Broussard will begin his testimony Thursday following a medical examiner, Dr. Thomas Rogers, who is expected to testify about the shotgun blasts that killed Bailey on Aug. 2, 2007.
Judge Thomas Reardon said Wednesday that Peretti and Sirbu can use Broussard’s criminal history to impeach his credibility.
On Halloween 2005, Broussard attacked a man on a crowded Muni train in San Francisco, beat the man badly and stole his wallet and a personal music player. Broussard pleaded guilty and spent a year in jail.
Krum is expected to take Broussard through his life history when he takes the stand. According to court records and other documents, Broussard spent much of his childhood in group homes while his mother served prison sentences on gun and drug charges. His biological father was not a presence in his life.
As a teenager, he lived in Richmond with a man named Marcus Callaway, the father of his half sister, and he has said he considers Callaway his father.
Peretti and Sirbu are not expected to begin cross examination of Broussard until the middle of next week. Peretti has said repeatedly that the case hinges on Broussard’s credibility.
Broussard first told police he didn’t kill Bailey, then said he did, but acted alone. Then he recanted that confession during a “60 Minutes” interview before agreeing in early 2009 to cooperate with prosecutors.
“He’s told so many lies he can’t keep track of them,” Peretti said earlier this week.
Earlier Wednesday, Christensen testified that he seized two loaded, sawed-off shotguns from the bakery compound in a raid the day after Bailey was killed.
One, a 12-gauge Remington, was under a bed in Mackey’s bedroom, Christensen said.
The other, a 12-gauge Mossberg, was found outside a bedroom window. Broussard told the grand jury that was the murder weapon. It was loaded with five rounds, Christensen said.
The officer also testified he recovered more than a dozen rifle bullets from Broussard’s bedroom.