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Trial Connected To Journalist's Murder Continues

For 15 years, journalist Chauncey Bailey was a constant presence in Oakland, Calif., newspapers, radio and television.
The Chauncey Bailey Project
For 15 years, journalist Chauncey Bailey was a constant presence in Oakland, Calif., newspapers, radio and television.

In August 2007, journalist Chauncey Bailey was gunned down in broad daylight, in downtown Oakland, Calif., by a masked man armed with a shotgun.

Bailey was an editor at the Oakland Post, a newspaper that primarily serves Oakland's black community. His associates claim he was killed because he was writing an expose on the financial problems of a local bakery and the renegade Black Muslim group that ran it.

The owner of the now-shuttered Your Black Muslim Bakery, Yusef Bey IV, is currently on trial, along with associate Antoine Mackey, for allegedly masterminding Bailey's murder. Devaughndre Broussard, who confessed to doing the shooting, is serving a 25-year prison sentence.

The Confession

A day after Bailey's murder, police raided Your Black Muslim Bakery, which employed ex-cons who converted to Islam. Police recovered a shotgun and a spent shell linked to the fatal head wound Bailey suffered after already being shot twice in the torso.

Police also arrested Broussard, then 22, a janitor at the bakery who had a criminal record.

Initially, Broussard denied killing Bailey, but then he confessed, saying that he had acted alone. Then, in a 2008 interview with the TV newsmagazine 60 Minutes, Broussard recanted.

"I never heard about Chauncey Bailey," Broussard told 60 Minutes' Anderson Cooper. "I never met him. I never seen him. The first time I heard about Mr. Chauncey Bailey was that night I got arrested."

About a year later, Broussard again changed his story. He confessed in a plea agreement to killing not only Chauncey Bailey but also another man, Odell Roberson, just a few weeks before shooting the journalist — and he said he had acted on the orders of Yusef Bey IV.

Recording The Conspiracy

Bey's attorney, Gene Peretti, says his client is innocent and that Broussard's plea agreement means he has a motive to lie.

"It's fundamentally his word," Peretti says. "He is a person who finds himself in a situation where he has, in essence, confessed to two murders, and he starts thinking about it and he gets an attorney and all of a sudden he's gonna cut a deal."

But Peretti's client, the defendant Bey, has his own credibility problems.

When Bey was arrested in 2007 on a separate kidnapping charge, he told police he had no knowledge of Bailey's murder. Then police put him in a holding room with two underlings and secretly videotaped their conversation.

The resulting video was obtained by the Chauncey Bailey Project, a collaboration of San Francisco Bay Area news groups created to investigate Bailey's murder.

Robert Rosenthal of the Center for Investigative Reporting leads the project and says the video points to a conspiracy.

"The video shows Yusef Bey IV in a holding cell basically describing the murder of Chauncey Bailey," Rosenthal says, "with the detail of even laughing about sort of the way his head would jerk back when ... the second or third shot from the shotgun hit him."

The trial is expected to last several weeks. It's not yet known whether Bey will take the stand in his own defense.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Richard Gonzales is NPR's National Desk Correspondent based in San Francisco. Along with covering the daily news of region, Gonzales' reporting has included medical marijuana, gay marriage, drive-by shootings, Jerry Brown, Willie Brown, the U.S. Ninth Circuit, the California State Supreme Court and any other legal, political, or social development occurring in Northern California relevant to the rest of the country.