OAKLAND -- A judge agreed Thursday that a prosecutor can use evidence of financial fraud from other cases as well as "other bad acts" against Yusuf Bey IV in his upcoming triple murder trial.
That evidence will show Bey IV motivated followers of the defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery with promises he would "hook them up" with bogus identities and credit scores, the prosecutor said.
Bey IV, who headed the bakery, told associates Devaughndre Broussard and Antonie Mackey they would reap monetary rewards if in August 2007 they killed journalist Chauncey Bailey, who was writing about the bakery's bankruptcy case, Deputy District Attorney Melissa Krum said.
Judge Thomas Reardon agreed to most of the evidence Krum sought to use. He ruled that the fraud charges against Bey IV, the allegations of shows of force by his followers, and the stories Bailey wrote in 2002 and 2003 about a sex-crime case involving the late bakery patriarch Yusuf Bey, all were relevant to the case.
Thursday's hearing marked the first substantial discussions in open court about evidence and motivation in the killings of Bailey and two other men, Odell Roberson and Michael Will. Bey IV, 24, is charged with ordering all three killed.
His co-defendant, Mackey, also 24, is accused of killing Wills and helping Broussard kill Bailey and Roberson.
Broussard, 23, has pleaded guilty to the Bailey and Roberson slayings and told a grand jury that Mackey admitting to him he killed Wills.
"My approach in the this case is to (show) an overall view of the bakery and persuasion of Bey IV," Krum said.
She said she intends to show Bey IV used fake identities to steal luxury cars at dealerships in Vallejo and San Bruno to support Broussard's expected testimony that his motivations for the killings were financial.
In exchange for killing Bailey, Bey IV promised to introduce Broussard and Mackey to a person skilled at creating fake identities with high credit scores, Krum said.
Bey IV and Mackey's lawyer spent most of the hearing claiming the evidence does nothing to help Krum's case. Charges Bey IV fraudulently purchased a $55,000 Mercedes-Benz only shows "a (then) 19- year-old man liked fancy cars and did something illegal," his attorney, Gene Peretti, said. "There is nothing remarkable about it."
Mackey's lawyer, Gary Sirbu, continually said that much of Krum's evidence involves matters that occurred before Mackey joined the self-empowerment group in May 2007.
The evidence Krum sought "sweeps up my client in association with acts he had nothing to do with," Sirbu said. He has said he is planning to attempt to ask that Mackey be tried separately.
Also Thursday, Reardon denied a defense motion to dismiss the April 2009 indictment of Bey IV and Mackey because grand jurors were not presented with evidence Peretti and Sirbu claimed raised serious doubts about their clients' guilt.
In what he called a two-pronged decision, Reardon ruled the evidence should have been shown to the grand jury, but then said he found it unlikely it would have lead to a different outcome.
There was "a gross error by the District Attorney's office" in not showing that evidence, the judge said. It should have been presented "and let the chips fall where they may."
It included a woman who once claimed to be one of Bey IV's spiritual wives, Jasmine Siaw, bragging to a co-worker that she helped in the Roberson killing and that bakery follower Tamon Halfin did the shooting. The other evidence involved a woman who claimed she heard a man who she thought was Broussard tell Bey IV at a party he shot man because he was bored. She claimed she thought the man was Wills, according to a report by a district attorney's inspector. The woman later recanted.
Reardon said that while he found the evidence should have been presented, the standard needed to dismiss the case was whether he had "a serious doubt" that it would have changed the outcome of the grand jurors' deliberations.
"I do not have such a doubt," he said.
The case is scheduled for further hearings on Jan. 3 with jury selection expected to begin later that month.
To learn more about the Chauncey Bailey Project to go chaunceybaileyproject.org. Thomas Peele is an investigative reporter. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him at Twitter.com/thomas_peele.