A former community leader was so determined to protect the legacy of his failing family bakery that he went so far as to order the murders of three men, including a local journalist, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A former community leader was so determined to protect the legacy of his failing family bakery that he went so far as to order the murders of three men, including a local journalist, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Melissa Krum told jurors during her closing arguments that Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV thought he was above the law and terrorized the community when he ordered the murders of Oakland Post Editor Chauncey Bailey and two others in 2007.
Bey thought he was "the King of Oakland," who had his followers leaning on his every word, Krum said.
"He acted like it, he talked like it," Krum said. "He ran this city according to his rules."
Bey is charged with ordering the killings. Co-defendant Antoine Mackey, a former bakery supervisor, is charged with helping confessed gunman Devaughndre Broussard kill Bailey and another man, Odell Roberson, and with fatally shooting a third man, Michael Wills.
Bey and Mackey, both 25, have pleaded not guilty. They face life in prison without parole if convicted.
Bey’s attorney, Gene Peretti, dismissed Krum’s closing argument, saying it sounded much like her opening statements.
"So far we haven’t seen any surprises," Peretti said Wednesday.
Mackey’s attorney, Gary Sirbu, declined to comment.
Krum is expected to complete her closing statements Thursday. Attorneys for Bey and Mackey will then deliver their closing remarks.
The prosecution’s key witness, Broussard, 23, has pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and is expected to receive a 25-year prison sentence in exchange for his testimony.
Krum said that there is no doubt that Bey ordered the killings as he had the final say on every major decision at the once-influential bakery. Founded some 40 years ago by Bey’s father, the bakery became an institution in Oakland’s black community as it ran a security service, a school and other businesses.
But it also became marred by connections to criminal activity and money woes.
She said Bey wanted Bailey dead to stop investigative piece about the bakery’s financial troubles from being published.
Krum said Bey ordered Broussard, a bakery handyman, to kill Bailey, 57, who was fatally shot in downtown Oakland on Aug. 2, 2007, in broad daylight.
"It’s all coming from the top. It’s not like they do these missions out of nowhere," Krum continued. "It’s a gang mentality. It is a mentality that you are so desperate to be a part of something, it’s like family. It’s your everything."
"These men are all willing to terrorize for the ‘Greater Good,’" Krum concluded.
Krum told jurors Wednesday that Broussard is a "sociopath," but the credibility of his testimony is of utmost importance.
"He has no empathy. He has no sympathy. He has no feelings. He is a stone-cold killer," Krum said.
She said Broussard testified only after he thought Bey abandoned him on his promise to get him a lawyer and help if he initially took the fall for Bailey’s murder.
"Take the fall for me. Take the fall for us. You got to be a good soldier," Krum said.
Krum also showed a secretly recorded police video days after Bailey was killed where Bey could be heard talking to his brother and another bakery associate about the shotgun Broussard used to kill Bailey.
Bey also could be seen laughing with them about Bailey’s murder.
"It’s disturbing footage," Krum said. She also showed a photo of Bey holding two rifles apparently on bakery grounds, disputing his claim to authorities that no weapons were kept there.
Krum said Bey ordered Broussard to kill Roberson, 31, in retaliation for the murder of Bey’s brother by Roberson’s nephew.
Mackey is accused of killing Wills, 36, at random after he and Bey had a conversation about the Zebra murders, a string of racially motivated black-on-white killings in San Francisco in the 1970s. Bey and Mackey are black, and Wills was white.
Krum also said that Mackey flat out lied when he testified Tuesday that he played no role in the killings.
Bailey’s brother, Errol Cooley, said outside court that he believes justice will be served.
"It’s just a whole bunch of thugs, a whole bunch of hoodlums who were trying to strong arm people," Cooley said.
Cooley also said journalists should have the right to report stories without fear.
"I think if the people who are writing articles can’t really speak about the truth then we have nothing," Cooley said.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.