OAKLAND -- A change-of-venue hearing in the murder case of journalist Chauncey Bailey began Tuesday after months of delays, and it didn't take long for the judge to tell a defense expert that he was presenting "bad math."
At issue was how many newspaper stories have appeared in Alameda County during the three years since Bailey's killing that could have prejudiced potential jurors against co-defendants Yusuf Bey IV and Antoine Mackey. Bryan Edelman, a social psychologist, testified the number exceeds 1,500.
But Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon said Edelman was "inflating numbers so they sound better" by counting more than once the same article that might have appeared in various newspapers published by Bay Area News Group, which consists of 11 daily newspapers, five circulating in Alameda County.
"If the same reporter created the article and it ran in five papers, why count it five times?" Reardon asked as he paced back and forth behind his bench at the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse. "That's what I can't get past."
Edleman said he considered the same article published in the Oakland Tribune and The (Fremont) Argus on the same day to count separately. "The point is saturation. Everywhere you go, the story is there."
Reardon eventually said he and Edelman were "beating the proverbial dead horse," and allowed Bey IV's lawyer, Gene Peretti, to eventually continue questioning the witness. But the judge showed little tolerance for a lengthy hearing, telling Peretti that he was covering matters already submitted in legal papers and to get to new material.
Bey IV, the former leader of Your Black Muslim Bakery, and Mackey want their triple murder trial moved to Los Angeles claiming they have been subjected to relentless media coverage and that an unbiased jury can't be seated in Alameda County.
Edelman said that numerous articles about the defendants contain damaging, or "loaded language" about race and religion that could affect their rights to a fair trial. He also said that newspaper articles appearing on the Internet contain negative comments written by readers saying Bey IV should kill himself or be summarily executed.
Coverage of Bailey's August 2007 murder has included much information about other crimes surrounding the bakery -- including charges of child rape against Bey IV's father, Yusuf Bey -- that could not be used as trial evidence but that have given potential jurors a negative impression of the Bey family and the former bakery, he said.
Bey IV is charged with ordering Bailey and two other men killed in the summer of 2007.
Mackey is charged with killing one of the men, Michael Wills, and helping confessed gunman Devaughndre Broussard kill Bailey and the third victim, Odell Roberson.
The hearing has been postponed five times because of changes in lawyers assigned to the case and illnesses. It is scheduled to continue before Reardon at 1:30 p.m. today.