OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — A jury on Thursday found the leader of a financially troubled community group and another man guilty of murder in the daytime shooting of the first American journalist killed on U.S. soil for reporting a story in more than a decade.
Yusuf Bey IV, former head of Your Black Muslim Bakery, also was convicted in the murders of two other men in a month-long spree of violence that culminated with the fatal August 2007 shooting of 57-year-old Chauncey Bailey while he walked to the newspaper where he was investigating the financial woes of Bey's group.
Jurors also found co-defendant Antoine Mackey guilty in the murders of Bailey and 36-year-old Michael Wills, but deadlocked on a murder charge against him in the death of 31-year-old Odell Roberson Jr.
"Justice has finally been done," Bailey's cousin, Wendy Ashley-Johnson, said outside court. "Now Chauncey can rest. This chapter is over."
Founded some 40 years ago by Bey's father, the bakery, which promoted self-empowerment, became an institution in Oakland's black community while running a security service, school and other businesses. In recent years, the organization was tainted by connections to criminal activity.
Prosecutors argued that Bey felt he was above the law and was so desperate to protect the legacy of his family's once-influential bakery that he ordered Bailey murdered. The Oakland Post editor had been working on a story about the organization's finances as it descended toward bankruptcy.
Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley said the verdicts affirmed "our abiding conviction that violence against the free voice of the press will not be tolerated in our society."
Bey and Mackey, both 25, appeared stoic during the reading of the verdicts, which prompted tears from the families of the victims and defendants.
Bey's attorney, Gene Peretti, said he had thought the case would end in a mistrial because jury deliberations lasted more than two weeks.
"It's a surprise and very disappointing frankly," Peretti said, adding that his client was "a little bit stunned." He and Mackey's lawyer, Gary Sirbu, said they plan to appeal.
Both men could get life in prison without the possibility of parole when they are sentenced on July 8.
Bey was charged with ordering the killing of Bailey, as well as the slayings of Roberson and Wills in July 2007.
Mackey, a former bakery supervisor, was accused of acting as the getaway driver for Devaughndre Broussard, who confessed to killing Bailey on a busy city street with three shotgun blasts, including a final shot to the face to ensure his victim was dead.
Mackey was convicted of murder for shooting Wills. He had been accused of aiding Broussard in Roberson's shooting, but jurors couldn't decide whether he was guilty.
Prosecutors said Bey ordered Broussard to kill Roberson in retaliation for the murder of Bey's brother by Roberson's nephew.
Mackey was accused of killing Wills at random after Mackey and Bey had a conversation about the Zebra murders, a string of racially motivated black-on-white killings in San Francisco in the 1970s. Bey and Mackey are black, and Wills was white.
Broussard, the prosecution's key witness, testified that Bey ordered him and Mackey to kill the three men in exchange for a line of credit.
The two-and-a-half-month trial, which included more than 60 witnesses, had been delayed several times before finally getting under way in March. Bey's two original lawyers resigned after prosecutors accused one of smuggling a hit list out of jail to prevent potential witnesses from testifying.
Broussard struck a plea deal of 25 years in prison in exchange for serving as the prosecution's key witness. The 23-year-old former bakery handyman inexplicably laughed several times while testifying for more than a week, including while describing Bailey's shooting on Aug. 2, 2007.
Lawyers for Bey and Mackey questioned Broussard's credibility, arguing he was "a cold-blooded killer" who killed for sport and had doctored his testimony in exchange for the plea deal.
Prosecutor Melissa Krum told jurors during closing arguments that while Broussard is a "sociopath," his testimony was credible.
"Sometimes you have to make a deal with a demon to get to the devil," she said.
Before the killing of Bailey, Cuban-American Manuel de Dios Unanue, an outspoken journalist, was shot in the head in a New York City restaurant in 1992. Police believe drug traffickers and businessmen plotted to murder him in retaliation for hard-hitting stories he had written about their operations, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.
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