Confessed gunman Broussard takes the stand
OAKLAND — Devaughndre Broussard, the admitted killer of Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey, struggled through testimony Thursday against former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV, the man he says ordered him to commit two slayings.
Broussard first entered Judge Thomas Reardon’s crowded courtroom at 11:39 a.m. wearing shackles and a red jail jumpsuit. He passed in front of the defense table where Bey IV and co-defendant Antoine Mackey sat staring at him intently; he didn’t meet their eyes. Bey IV wore a tan suit and a bow tie — the symbol of the Black Muslim movement that Broussard said he joined in 2006.
During afternoon testimony, Broussard described participating in a 2006 shooting of an unoccupied car with other members of Your Black Muslim Bakery. Prosecutor Melissa Krum contends that shooting illustrates the bakery’s command structure: Bey IV issued orders to others to commit crimes on his behalf.
Broussard described being in a room at the bakery when Bey IV’s half brother, Yusuf Bey V, came to him, gave him a pistol-grip shotgun and told him Bey IV wanted a car shot to bits. The car belonged to a man with whom the Bey brothers had a dispute.
“I fired it until it was empty five or six times,” Broussard said of the shotgun. He would later use it, Broussard told a grand jury in 2009, to kill Bailey, also on Bey IV’s order.
He also said that he later asked Bey IV why he ordered the shooting and became “lightweight upset” upon learning the reason.
“We shot up a car over something that had to do with (the woman’s) personal life” and that bothered him “because of the risk I took.” When he asked Bey IV about it, he said the leader replied, “We got to stick up for our brothers and sisters. That’s what we do.”
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Broussard is the prosecution’s star witness in the case against Bey IV and Mackey. The men are facing triple-murder charges in connection with Bailey’s death and the unrelated deaths of two other men, Odell Roberson and Michael Wills, in summer 2007. Bey IV and Mackey, both 25, have pleaded not guilty; they face life in prison without parole if convicted.
Broussard has pleaded guilty to shooting Bailey and Roberson and is to be sentenced to 25 years in prison for agreeing to testify. Attorneys for Bey IV and Mackey are planning an aggressive attack on Broussard’s credibility, calling him a “liar” who has changed his story numerous times.
Thursday was the first of what is expected to be at least a week of testimony from Broussard, and it focused on how he came to join the bakery, as well as the inner workings of the once-prominent black empowerment organization under Bey IV’s leadership.
Broussard told jurors that his motivation from the start of joining the bakery in 2006 was because Bey IV bragged openly to him and others that he was capable of helping his followers obtain high credit scores and acquire loans through fraudulent means.
The 23-year-old Broussard struggled through his testimony throughout the day, and minutes after taking the stand, was asking for questions to be repeated, and seemed to find it difficult to formulate answers. Bey IV’s court-appointed lawyer, Gene Peretti, made numerous objections in the first few minutes.
Reardon frequently jumped in, trying to clarify and simplify Krum’s questions.
Sometimes struggling for words, sometimes laughing, Broussard labored through the answers.
When Krum asked him the color of a Cadillac owned by another bakery member, he burst into laughter before saying, “Yellow.”
Krum asked him what was funny. “I am thinking of a yellow Cadillac,” he replied. “That’s why I am laughing.”
Other times he told Krum he didn’t understand her questions or that he didn’t know the right words to articulate answers.
When she asked him why men unrelated to each other called each other brothers at the bakery, he struggled.
“I can’t find the words to answer the question,” he said.
He also told Krum that Bey IV defined being at the bakery as “more than a job.” When she asked for details, he said Bey IV would order his followers to “do stuff you couldn’t ask other people to do. Whatever would come to his mind.”
Did Broussard mean committing crimes, Krum asked.
“I may have to be more direct,” Broussard said. “I don’t say the word crimes. That’s the way I talk.”
Later, he described how Bey IV chased prostitutes from the area around the bakery on San Pablo Avenue by firing an assault rifle into the air. The women ran away, he said. Broussard also testified that he broke bakery rules by using drugs while living and working there. He didn’t say what kind.
During morning testimony, Broussard said Richard Lewis, a close family friend who was in a San Francisco jail with him, had also spent time with Bey IV when Bey IV was awaiting bail in a vehicular assault case. Broussard was due to be discharged the next day, and Lewis asked him his plans.
“Probably going back and hanging out in the streets,” Broussard said he replied. Lewis, though, offered Broussard an alternative: joining the ranks of so-called soldiers working for Bey IV at his bakery in Oakland.
Lewis said Bey IV needed “people he could depend on,” Broussard told a jury of seven women and five men.
When Krum next asked him “what agenda (Bey IV) had,” Broussard said, “I am not understanding.”
The attorney who negotiated Broussard’s plea bargain two years ago, LeRue Grim, watched from the front row.
“That’s just him,” Grim said outside of court about Broussard’s labored answers. “He’s a little bit meticulous.”
Grim said Broussard told his family to stay away from court Thursday because he feared for their safety.
“He thought they might be in danger,” Grim said of Broussard’s stepfather and half sister, who had wanted to attend.
Speaking in the courthouse lobby during a recess, Peretti said he had no idea why Broussard would believe his family would have anything to fear.
“I don’t think he’s going to be found credible,” Peretti said, noting that Broussard has to deliver compelling testimony to keep up his part of a plea deal that will keep him from a life sentence. “There is no prosecution case without Broussard and he’s told many, many versions of what happened.
“He is a liar, that’s my opinion — he is an admitted liar,” Peretti added.
The lawyer said his client, Bey IV, is “more than disappointed, he’s outraged” at Broussard’s plea deal and testimony. He also said Bey IV “never wanted to be CEO of the bakery.” He reluctantly took the job after his elder brother’s killing and lacked the business experience and maturity to make it work, Peretti said.
As for the bow tie Bey IV wore, Peretti said, “There’s no significance to that — it was the one tie that that matched his suit.”
Broussard’s testimony is expected to continue Monday in Alameda County Superior Court.