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Calif. man found guilty in murder of journalist

A former Oakland community group leader has been found guilty of ordering the murders of a journalist and two other men.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A jury on Thursday found a California community group leader and another man guilty of murder in the daytime slaying of the first American journalist killed on U.S. soil for reporting a story in more than a decade.

Former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV was also convicted in the killings 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 found co-defendant Antoine Mackey guilty in the murder of 36-year-old Michael Wills, but deadlocked on murder charges against him in the death of 31-year-old Odell Roberson Jr.

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.

Bey and Mackey, both 25, could get life in prison without the possibility of parole when they are sentenced.

Bey was charged with ordering the killing of Bailey, as well as the slayings of Odell Roberson and Michael Wills in July 2007.

Mackey, a former bakery supervisor, was accused of acting as the getaway driver for Devaughndre Broussard, who confessed to assassinating 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 also convicted of murder for shooting Wills. He had been accused aiding Broussard in Roberson's shooting.

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 trial had been delayed several times before finally getting under way in March. Bey's two original lawyers resigned after the Alameda County District Attorney's Office accused one of them 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.

Alameda County 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.