Defense Rests In Trial Involving Murdered Journalist

May 5, 2011
Originally published on May 5, 2011 11:16 am
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LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:

In Oakland, California, the prosecution and defense have rested in the trial of a man accused of killing a well-known local journalist. Chauncey Bailey, an editor for a community paper, was gunned down in August 2007. Prosecutors say that Bailey was killed because he had angered the leader of a local black Muslim group. NPR's Richard Gonzales reports.

RICHARD GONZALES: After the prosecution rested, Yusuf Bey's court-appointed defense attorney, Gene Peretti, says he's confident the prosecution hasn't proved its case and that his client wouldn't take the stand in his own defense.

GENE PERETTI: In fact, I'm really prepared to rely on the state of the evidence the way it is right now. Given the state of affairs, I don't think there's sufficient evidence to prove his guilt, and I don't see any point in him taking the stand.

GONZALES: But keeping Yusuf Bey off the witness stand also means he won't have to answer some key questions. For example, why does a police tracking device put his car in front of Chauncey Bailey's home just a few hours before the journalist was slain. The gunman, Devondre Broussad, testified that Bey was in that car that night surveilling Bailey.

WERTHEIMER: Why did Yusuf Bey's ex-girlfriend tell police that he seemed angry that Bailey was writing about the potential bankruptcy of Your Black Muslim Bakery?

(SOUNDBITE OF POLICE RECORDING)

SHEAVON WILLIAMS: And he wasn't too happy about that.

GONZALES: That's Sheavon Williams in a recorded statement she gave to police the day after Bailey's murder. A collaboration of Bay Area news organizations called the Chauncey Bailey Project provided the audio to NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF POLICE RECORDING)

WILLIAMS: He told me to come here. And I said for what. And the news was on in the background(ph) and it was talking about Chauncey Bailey supposedly being assassinated.

GONZALES: And then there's another piece of evidence against Yusuf Bey - the words from his own mouth on a secretly recorded videotape. The tape shows Bey in a jailhouse holding cell with two other associates after he had been arrested on a separate kidnapping charge.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEOTAPE)

YUSUF BEY: That fool said, pow, pow, poof(ph).

GONZALES: But Yusuf Bey's defense attorney, Gene Peretti, insists that the only hard evidence against his client in six weeks of testimony is that of the confessed gunman Devaughndre Broussard. And Broussard has changed his story several times before getting a plea agreement in exchange for his testimony.

PERETTI: It really is a one witness case. And the question is, do you believe the main witness, who has gotten a deal for 25 years flat, or do you not? And that's a simple one for the jury.

GONZALES: Richard Gonzales, NPR News, Oakland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.