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Yusuf Bey IV (File Photo)

OAKLAND -- Most of the evidence collected during an investigation of a suspected plot to kill witnesses in the Chauncey Bailey murder case can be used against co-defendants Yusuf Bey IV and Antoine Mackey, a judge ruled late Thursday.

At issue was how much of the material was protected by attorney-client privilege because it involved Bey IV's former lawyer, Lorna Patton Brown.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon, after hours of talks in chambers with lawyers and a lengthy closed-door hearing, ruled that only Brown's handwritten notes are off-limits. It was unclear exactly how prosecutors will now use the material.

According to an affidavit written by a district attorney's investigator, Brown smuggled "documents out of the Santa Rita Jail" in March on which Bey IV had written instructions to a Your Black Muslim Bakery follower about killing witnesses.

Investigators quickly unraveled the plot and arrested a man who has described himself as Bey IV's "No. 1 soldier," Gary Popoff. The papers Brown took from Bey IV at the jail were on the dashboard of Popoff's car at the time of his arrest.

Popoff was jailed on a parole violation and remains in San Quentin Prison. Senior deputy district attorney Jeffrey Stark said Thursday the matter remains "under review." Court papers suggest Popoff will eventually be charged.

Brown is in the process of resigning her law license. It remains unclear whether she will be prosecuted, or if she knew that the papers she gave to a Bey family member that were then passed on to Popoff contained what court documents describe as a hit list.

Bey's current lawyer, Gene Peretti, attempted to keep the information out of the murder trial, claiming it was protected by attorney-client privilege.

Bey is charged with ordering Bailey and two other men killed in the summer of 2007. Mackey is charged with killing one of those men and helping Bailey's confessed killer, Devaughndre Broussard, hunt down Bailey, the editor of the Oakland Post.

Bailey was working on a story about the financial collapse of Bey's business, Your Black Muslim Bakery, at the time of the killing. Broussard told a grand jury that Bey wanted Bailey dead to stop the story from being published.

Reach investigative reporter Thomas Peele at tpeele@bayareanewsgroup.com and follow him at Twitter.com/thomas_peele.