Yusuf Bey IV may be allowed to represent himself on kidnap, torture charges
By Thomas Peele, The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — Triple murderer Yusuf Bey IV will “probably” be allowed to represent himself on kidnapping and torture charges, a Superior Court judge said Thursday morning, but a formal decision won’t be made for several weeks because of security concerns.
Judge Larry Goodman asked Bey IV during a 20-minute hearing if he had heard the phrase that a criminal defendant who acts as his own lawyer “has a fool for a client” and if he understood that waiving his right to an attorney meant almost certain conviction.
“I have no choice in my particular situation,” Bey IV, 25, told Goodman without further explanation.
Although he was convicted in June of ordering Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey and two other men killed in 2007 and later sentenced to three consecutive life terms, the torture case must be resolved before Bey IV is transferred to state prison.
At issue with his request for self-representation are allegations that Bey IV participated in a plot to have witnesses in his recently concluded murder trial killed last year and gave orders to a bakery follower, Gary Popoff, to kill people. Bey IV, the former leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery, was never charged in connection with that incident.
When Bey IV made a similar request to represent himself in another case last year, a different judge, Robert McGuiness, denied it, saying a plot to harm witnesses was “an attack on the core integrity of any trial process.”
Prosecutor Melissa Krum told Goodman that any granting of self-representation rights had to be accompanied by restrictions on Bey IV’s unmonitored access to people.
His phone calls should be monitored and his mail reviewed “in the interest of public safety,” Krum said. Goodman said he needed time to research those issues and would make a ruling Oct. 7.
Bey IV told the judge he didn’t try to have anyone killed. It “never even happened,” Bey IV said. “I didn’t intend any harm to be done. No orders were given to Gary Popoff.”
But, he added, “I do understand politics” and seemed to be willing to accept the proposed restrictions. Bey IV’s current lawyer, David Bryden, said his client opposed any restrictions.
It is unclear if the torture case will go to trial. The case involves allegations that Bey IV and four followers kidnapped two women in 2007 and tortured one of them in a failed attempt to extort money. Two of Bey IV’s brothers have pleaded guilty; another man was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Krum has said if Bey IV’s lone remaining co-defendant, Tamon Halfin, accepts a plea deal, the charges against Bey IV will be dropped. Halfin is due in court next month.
Thursday’s hearing came with Bey IV under increased security as five sheriff’s deputies stood watch in Goodman’s courtroom. Earlier, Judge Carrie Panetta said she had been having meetings about security issues with sheriff’s personnel but didn’t say why. Officials familiar with the matter said there had been no specific threats or incidents.
Bey IV had also sought to represent himself in the real-estate fraud case that was dropped Thursday.
The prosecutor in that matter, David Lim, previously said it wasn’t worth taking the matter to trial given the life sentences Bey IV already faces. With credit for time served, the most Bey IV would have faced if convicted of the 12 fraud and theft counts he faced was about five years.
The victims, he said, were banks that have written off their losses. Another man, Marlon Campbell, was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2008 for his part in the crimes, which involved fraudulent loan applications, identity theft, and the stealing of a Superior Court judge’s seal to use on bogus court papers.