Former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV guilty for murdering Chauncey Bailey
By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — A jury has just convicted former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV for the 2007 murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey.
Bey IV, 25, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole when he is sentenced July 8.
Bailey, 57, was the first journalist killed over a domestic story in the United States since 1976, when Don Bolles of the Arizona Republic died in a car bombing
The jury of seven men and five women began deliberations in the Bailey case May 23 after nine weeks of testimony from more than 50 witnesses.
Bailey, editor of the Oakland Post, was gunned down Aug. 2, 2007, on his way to work in downtown Oakland. The man who confessed to killing Bailey, bakery member Devaughndre Broussard, told officials that Bey IV ordered the death to stop the journalist from publishing an article about the bakery’s financial troubles. Broussard accepted a plea deal in exchange for his testimony and is expected to be sentenced to 25 years in prison.
After Bailey’s death, a coalition of local media, including the Bay Area News Group, joined in the Chauncey Bailey Project, an investigative group that looked into the case and the Oakland Police Department’s handling of it.
“From the very first meeting that led to the creation of the Chauncey Bailey Project, there were two goals,” said Robert Rosenthal, executive editor of the Chauncey Bailey Project and head of the Berkeley-based Center for Investigative Reporting. “One was to continue Chauncey’s work and to make sure that when a journalist is murdered because of their work justice is served. There is no doubt that the work of the project helped keep law enforcement focused on this case, and revealed facts and evidence that may have never been disclosed. Today’s verdict is a reminder that journalists do make a difference and that their work is crucial to our democracy.”
After a decade-long stint at the Detroit News, Bailey joined the Oakland Tribune in 1993 and was fired from the paper in 2005 for ethical violations. He had been appointed editor of the Oakland Post, a free circulation weekly paper covering the city’s African-American community only weeks before his death.
He had written but not published a story about the bakery’s 2006 bankruptcy filing that a judge had recently converted from reorganization to liquidation. Post publisher Paul Cobb had rejected the story, claiming it didn’t contain enough attribution.
At the time, police suspected bakery members were involved in two other killings as well as the kidnapping of two women and the torture of one of them. Police had planned to raid the bakery compound the day before Bailey’s murder, but delayed to accommodate the vacation scheduled of two senior SWAT commanders.
When they carried out the operation the day after Bailey’s death, Broussard threw the shotgun out his bedroom window and was arrested. He repeatedly told police he didn’t kill Bailey, but Bey IV, in separate interviews with detectives, claimed Broussard had told him he committed the murder.
Detectives eventually brought Bey IV into their interview with Broussard and after he continued to claim he killed no one, left them alone together for about six minutes with recording the conversations.
Immediately after that conversation, Broussard told Sgt. Derwin Longmire, “I shot him. … He fell. I shot him again.”
Broussard told jurors during his trial testimony that during the time alone Bey IV convinced him to give a flawed confession. “He said I was being tested by God,” Broussard said that he was also promised a Bey-family lawyer, money and a light jail sentence in exchange for protecting Bey IV from charges he ordered the killing.
Police said within days that they didn’t believe Broussard acted alone, but did not investigate other suspects vigorously. Bey IV and Mackey were not charged in Bailey’s killing until April 2009, after Broussard agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
When he finally testified against his former friends, Broussard, 23, laughed as he described how he shot Roberson and acted in what defense lawyers described as a bizarre manner, sometimes taking a minute or more to answer a question.
During breaks in his testimony he often rocked back and forth in the witness chair and appeared to be muttering to himself with his eyes closed. Deputy District Attorney Melissa Krum said Broussard was far from the perfect witness, telling jurors he was a sociopath, but, in effect, was chosen by Bey IV, not her.
“Sometimes you have to make a deal with a demon to get the devil,” she said in her closing argument, pointing at Bey IV as she said the last word.
Contact Thomas Peele at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/thomas_peele.