Reluctant witnesses take the stand in Chauncey Bailey trial
By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — A man who was convicted of using a fake ID to steal a car from a San Bruno dealership along with former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV told jurors in the Chauncey Bailey murder trial Thursday that he didn’t remember the crime and denied it happened.
Dyamen Williams, who said he had known Bey IV since he was 3 or 4 years old, replied “absolutely not” when asked if he used a driver’s license with the name Victor Franklin at Platinum Motors in 2005 to drive off with a Pontiac Firebird. Court records show he was later placed on probation for the crime.
Williams was only one of the reluctant witnesses called to testify in the triple-murder trial of Bey IV and Antoine Mackey. Bey IV is accused of ordering the death of Oakland Post editor Bailey and the unrelated shooting deaths of Odell Roberson and Michael Wills in summer 2007. Mackey is accused of killing Wills and helping in the slayings of Bailey and Roberson. They have pleaded not guilty.
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Williams was followed on the stand by a Platinum Motors salesman who said he sold “four or five” cars to Bey IV and others in 2005, but couldn’t remember the details of the transactions or how he helped police identify the thieves.
When prosecutor Melissa Krum asked salesman Hooman Khalili why he seemed so hesitant to testify, he replied, “I know what this is.”
Before he could say more, Mackey’s lawyer objected and Khalilli stopped talking.
Judge Thomas Reardon had little tolerance for the lack of answers and said, if needed, the entire staff of the dealership would be subpoenaed so “these lawyers can get the answers they need.”
Reardon added, “Don’t go back there and tell them the crazy judge is making them do it.”
After a break, Khalilli testified that the identifications he gave police in 2005 of Bey IV, Williams, and bakery members Tamon Halfin and Ajuwon Muhammad were accurate. Krum asked him no further questions and defense lawyers did not question him.
Krum called both witnesses to show Bey IV’s alleged pattern of using fake identifications and false identities to enrich himself. Bailey’s confessed killer, Devaughndre Broussard, a prosecution witness against Bey IV and Mackey, testified the bakery leader promised him and Mackey that he’d help them obtain fraudulent, high credit ratings if they killed Bailey.
Krum also asked Williams about ransacking two North Oakland liquor stores in 2005, in attacks that were led by Bey IV. Williams — who is on probation for participating in the vandalism — said he couldn’t remember who else was involved.
Williams watched a video recording of one of the attacks and admitted he was on the tape. But, when pushed by Krum, he said he didn’t know who else was there.
“Was Bey IV there?” Krum asked.
“I don’t recall,” Williams replied.
When Williams said he didn’t see that well and couldn’t tell who else was on the tape, Krum had him stand about three feet from a large screen television and played the recording again. Bey IV was seated about three feet behind Williams,
Asked again who was on the screen, Williams said, “I can’t really tell.”
Williams also said he didn’t remember how he got to the stores, or how it was decided or planned that a dozen bakery members would ransack them in a purported protest over liquor sales in the neighborhood.
“I don’t even remember what we were doing before,” he said.
Earlier Thursday, an employee of a Vallejo car dealership testified that Bey IV used a fake driver’s license with the name Jason Peterson to acquire a 2002 Mercedes CL 500 for $55,000 in late 2005.
The scheme unraveled when the dealership and bank employees noticed that the license listed a residence in “San Lerenzo” — a misspelling of San Lorenzo, said the employee, Bashar Baqlah.
Bey IV was charged with grand theft and pleaded no contest in that case.
Reach investigative reporter Thomas Peele at email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/thomas_peele.