Your Black Muslim Bakery leader accuses judge of unfairness in Chauncey Bailey murder trial
By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — Former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV accused the judge in his triple murder trial of being unfair to him during a hearing on key evidence Tuesday morning and asked if the proceedings could go on without him.
Judge Thomas Reardon said at the end of a terse exchange that Bey IV did not have to be present for the proceedings, but Bey IV did not formally ask to be removed from court and sat through the testimony of two witnesses when jurors returned a few minutes later.
At issue was how much of a recorded statement that a woman named Sheavon Williams gave police Aug. 3, 2007, could be played for jurors, which is scheduled to happen Wednesday. Williams, a one-time girlfriend of Bey IV, told jurors last week she has blocked out events surrounding the shooting death of journalist Chauncey Bailey, as well as details of her police statement at the time and what she told a grand jury two years ago.
She claimed she couldn’t remember telling police that Bey IV bragged about Bailey’s death, pointing at a television newscast about it and saying, “That will teach them to (expletive) with me.”
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Reardon and lawyers had spent most of Tuesday morning working through a transcript of the recording, removing portions of it that can’t be used as evidence against Bey IV and his co-defendant, Antoine Mackey. Bey IV and Mackey are facing triple-murder charges in connection with Bailey’s death and the deaths of two other men, Odell Roberson and Michael Wills, in summer 2007. Mackey and Bey IV have pleaded not guilty and face life in prison without parole if convicted.
Toward the end of the transcript, when Reardon ruled that a portion that Bey IV’s lawyer, Gene Peretti, wanted included would be instead cut, Bey IV began speaking to the judge directly.
“You’re not talking,” Reardon told him, but Bey IV kept talking as Reardon admonished him again to stop.
“This stuff is legal,” Bey IV said of the portion of the transcript Reardon ordered removed.
“When you go to law school and learn the evidence code, get back to me,” Reardon snapped.
Bey IV turned to Peretti and said loudly, “He isn’t being fair.”
Then, he said to the judge, “Do I have to be here for the rest of the trial if I don’t want to be? I don’t want to take part in something that isn’t fair to me.”
Reardon told him he didn’t have to be present to be tried, but Bey IV didn’t respond. Peretti declined to comment outside of court.
During Williams’ testimony last week, Bey IV stared at her intently when she was on the stand and motioned to one of his brothers to follow her when she left Reardon’s courtroom.
Prosecutor Melissa Krum later found her alone with that brother in a waiting room. Williams told jurors that she wasn’t threatened in that instance, but that members of the Bey family had shown up at her home unannounced and harassed her.
Tuesday, Reardon agreed to withhold from jurors portions of Williams’ statement that he considered to be either opinion or speculation.
But there was one portion that seemed to meet those definitions that Bey IV asked Peretti to bring to Reardon’s attention.
It involved Williams saying that she heard Bey IV on the phone with people who appeared to be staking out a building and that she thought it was a courthouse.
The prosecution’s key witness in the case — Bailey’s confessed shooter, Devaunghndre Broussard, who has testified against Bey IV and Mackey — told jurors that he and Mackey spent much of the day before Bailey’s death watching a building at 14th and Franklin streets, where the Post is located.
Bey IV appeared to key on the possible discrepancy between Williams’ statement and Broussard’s testimony and told Peretti to try and get it included.
But Reardon disagreed.
“For the last hour and a half you sat here saying you wanted speculation out. Now you’re changing horses,” the judge said.
It was then that Bey IV began talking over both men and Reardon told him to stop.
Reach investigative reporter Thomas Peele at email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/thomas_peele.