Reporting from San Francisco -- A jury Thursday convicted two men of first-degree murder in the slaying of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey, who was gunned down on a downtown street in broad daylight nearly four years ago in an effort to thwart his investigation into the finances of a business run by one of the defendants.
Yusuf Bey IV, 25, was convicted of ordering the murder of the 57-year-old Bailey, the first U.S. journalist killed over a domestic story since Don Bolles of the Arizona Republic died in a car bombing in 1976.
Bey IV was also convicted of ordering the deaths of two other men — Odell Roberson, a 31-year-old homeless man whose nephew was convicted of killing Bey IV’s older brother, and Michael Wills, 36, who was shot and killed as he walked to a store.
Bey IV was running Oakland’s Your Black Muslim Bakery, a once-prominent Bay Area institution founded by his father that gave jobs to former prisoners. The confessed triggerman in Bailey’s death was bakery handyman Devaughndre Brousard.
The jury Thursday also convicted Antoine Mackey, 25, on first-degree murder charges for killing Wills and helping Broussard kill Bailey. The panel deadlocked on a charge that Mackey had helped Broussard kill Roberson and the judge declared a mistrial on that matter.
Bey IV and Mackey face mandatory sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole when they are sentenced July 8.
Broussard shot Bailey while the journalist walked to work on August 2, 2007, as he neared completion on an investigation into the faltering finances of the bakery. Prosecutors contended that Broussard was acting on Bey IV’s orders.
The trial hinged on his credibility. Broussard initially said he had acted alone when he shot Bailey in the head, then reversed his story, saying that Bey IV had ordered the killing and the two others. He is expected to receive a 25-year sentence in exchange for his testimony.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Melissa Krum said she was pleased with the verdict, adding: “To not just kill a local reporter but to have it done in the middle of the day as he walked to work seemed to be an almost manically egotistical move” on Bey IV’s part.
The Oakland bakery was run for years by Yusuf Bey, who preached his own form of Islam and gained street credibility by hiring felons and teaching them discipline and self-worth.
Bey and his group earned political capital in Oakland, winning public financing that was never paid back and meting out street justice with their own army of followers, authorities have said. But Bey’s credibility frayed. At the time of his death in 2003, he faced child rape charges.
Bailey had covered the criminal trial.
Bey IV took control of the bakery after the deaths of his father and older brother. The business was in bankruptcy when Bailey began his investigation.
Bailey’s slaying spawned The Chauncey Bailey Project, a collective of journalists from various Bay Area newspapers, radio and television stations; investigative organizations; and academia that was to continue Bailey’s reporting and answer questions regarding his death.
Among the project’s most high-profile efforts was the release of a police video that secretly recorded Bey IV discussing Bailey’s death, said Robert J. Rosenthal, the project’s executive editor and director of the Center for Investigative Reporting. On the tape, Bey IV laughs while describing the killing and talks about how he “played hella dumb” when asked by police whether he ordered the murder.
“My own personal feeling is if the project had not existed we wouldn’t have seen these verdicts today,” Rosenthal said.