Analysis: Jurors took the ‘demon’ over the ‘devil’ in Bailey murder trial
By Thomas Peele, Josh Richman and Matt Krupnick, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — In the end, jurors took the demon over the devil.
Devaughndre Broussard, a two-time confessed killer who a prosecutor called a demon and a sociopath, proved to be a credible enough witness that jurors convicted his former religious leader, Yusuf Bey IV, of murder for ordering the death of journalist Chauncey Bailey and two other men.
Bey IV was “the devil,” deputy district attorney Melissa Krum said in her closing argument in the trial that ended with the jury’s verdict Thursday. Krum acknowledged that Broussard, her star witness, was a coldblooded killer, yet said his testimony was vital to convict Bey IV, the former leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery who she said had terrorized Oakland.
Jurors agreed, convicting Bey IV on three counts of first-degree murder for ordering the deaths of Bailey, Odell Roberson and Michael Wills in unrelated shootings in summer 2007. Jurors convicted Bey IV’s co-defendant, bakery member Antoine Mackey, of two counts of first-degree murder for shooting Wills and for helping Broussard carry out Bailey’s murder. Jurors deadlocked on whether Mackey helped Broussard kill Roberson.
The convictions carry mandatory sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Bey IV and Mackey, both 25, remain jailed — Bey IV in Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, Mackey in North County Jail in Oakland — until they are sentenced July 8.
Odell Roberson, 31, killed July 8, 2007
Michael Wills, 36, killed July 12, 2007
Chauncey Bailey, 57, killed Aug. 2, 2007
Broussard, 23, confessed to killing Bailey and Roberson, and, in exchange for his testimony, is to be sentenced to 25 years in prison, rather than life.
During his six days of testimony, even Broussard seemed to have little trouble realizing who he is, telling jurors at one point, “I got hella flaws.”
But Broussard’s lawyer, LeRue Grim, said Friday that his client fulfilled his obligations under a plea bargain made more than two years ago. Broussard remains at North County Jail and is expected to appear next week before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon to set a sentencing date.
“I think jurors made the right decision. I think (Broussard) earned his deal,” said Grim, who hasn’t spoken to Broussard since the verdict.
Defense lawyers blistered Broussard on cross examination and, in closing arguments, assailed what they said was his lack of credibility.
Even Grim said that Broussard may have committed “a little bit of fabrication,” although he declined to provide specifics. “Everything he told me seemed plausible,” Grim said.
Broussard was far from the perfect witness, said Peter Keane, dean emeritus of Golden Gate University law school and a former San Francisco chief deputy public defender. Broussard laughed while describing the murders and acted strangely on the stand, rocking back and forth and muttering to himself.
Still, Keane said, Broussard was what Krum had to work with.
Bey IV’s attorney, Gene Peretti, followed a sound strategy in basing his defense on Broussard’s credibility.
“Peretti definitely had a bad case,” Keane said. “He looked for the one vulnerable spot in the prosecution’s case. All the other evidence hurt him. He had to keep on the talking point. He did that well. It was all about doubting Broussard.”
Peretti made the right decision in not having Bey IV testify, Keane said.
“He would have been a lousy witness,” Keane said. “He would have brought a lot of baggage.”
Even with the murder trial finished, a host of legal issues remain for Bey IV and several of his followers, including unresolved violent felony charges in Oakland and San Francisco.
In San Francisco, Bey IV faces 5-year-old charges of running down and injuring two strip club bouncers with his BMW.
Prosecutors there will wait until Bey IV is sentenced on the Alameda County convictions before deciding whether to proceed with their assault case, said Seth Steward, a spokesman for the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. A judge in early 2007 ruled that Bey IV had to stand trial on the charges.
Alameda County prosecutors also have to decide what to do with kidnapping and torture charges pending against Bey IV from an incident in May 2007. Prosecutors also must determine whether to retry Mackey on one count of murder against him that jurors deadlocked on. Krum said Friday that no decisions have been made.
Three other bakery members have been convicted in the kidnapping and torture case, and a fourth bakery associate, Tamon Halfin, also remains to be tried.
Much about the kidnapping case came up during the trial, which is one of the reasons why Keane said he agreed with Mackey’s lawyer, Gary Sirbu, that Mackey’s convictions are ripe for appeal.
There is “meat on the bones” of Mackey’s appellate options because he was not granted a separate trial and because prosecutors used other crimes, like the kidnapping, to show the bakery was a criminal enterprise with Bey IV as its leader. Many of those crimes, dating to 2005, occurred before Mackey joined the bakery in late May 2007.
Some of that “could not help but slop over to Mackey,” Keane said. “Was Mackey prejudiced by association, that’s the issue.”