The man who killed journalist Chauncey Bailey by shooting him three times at point-blank range while he was walking to work in downtown Oakland four years ago was sentenced today to 25 years in state prison.
Devaughndre Broussard, 23, could have faced life in prison for killing Bailey, 57, on Aug. 2, 2007, and a second man, Odell Roberson Jr., 31, on July 8, 2007, as he initially was charged with two counts of murder.
But on May 7, 2009, prosecutors allowed Broussard to plead guilty to two counts of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter and receive a shorter prison term in exchange for his testimony against Your Black Muslim Bakery Yusuf Bey IV.
Prosecutors said they believe Bey ordered the deaths of Bailey, Roberson and a third man, 36-year-old Michael Wills, who was killed in Oakland on July 12, 2007.
Broussard, who was a handyman at the bakery, also testified against bakery associate Antoine Mackey.
On June 9, jurors convicted Bey of three counts of first-degree murder and Mackey of two counts of first-degree murder.
Bey was convicted on charges stemming from the deaths of all three victims in the case but jurors deadlocked on the murder charge Mackey faced for Roberson’s death.
Both men were also convicted of the special circumstance of committing multiple murders and they face life in prison without the possibility of parole when they are sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon on Aug. 26.
Bey and Mackey initially were scheduled to be sentenced on July 8 but their hearing was postponed because their lawyers were concerned that Broussard may have lied on the witness stand.
Their concern was based on comments that Broussard’s lawyer, LeRue Grim, made to the Bay Area News Group the day after Bey and Mackey were convicted.
Grim told the newspaper that Broussard may have committed “a little bit of fabrication” in his testimony.
Reardon held a four-hour hearing on that issue today, including arguments by the attorneys for Bey and Mackey and private discussions in his chambers with Grim and Bay Area News Group reporter Thomas Poole.
But Reardon ultimately ruled that he was satisfied that Broussard had lived up to the terms of his plea agreement by testifying truthfully in the trial for Bey and Mackey.
Prosecutor Melissa Krum told jurors in her closing argument in the trial that Bey ordered the killing of Bailey to prevent him from writing an article about the bakery’s financial problems.
The bakery was in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings when Bailey was gunned down near the corner of 14th and Alice streets in downtown Oakland and closed its doors later that year.
Krum said Bey was also upset at Bailey for writing articles about the child molestation charges that his father, bakery founder Yusuf Bey, was facing at the time of his death at age 67 in 2003.
The prosecutor said Bey ordered that Roberson be killed on July 8, 2007, because Roberson was the uncle of the man who was convicted of murdering Bey’s brother, Antar Bey, in 2005.
Krum said Bey also ordered that Wills be killed because he was inspired by the “Zebra Killers,” a group of black men who killed white people in San Francisco in the early 1970s.
Bey and Mackey are black and Wills was white.
Broussard, 23, admitted during the trial that he fatally shot Bailey and Roberson, but said he did so because Bey ordered him to.
Broussard also implicated Mackey in all three murders, saying Mackey killed Wills at Bey’s direction and participated in the fatal shootings of Bailey and Roberson.
Broussard testified that he shot Bailey three times because he wanted to make sure that the journalist was dead, as Bey told him that Bailey “wasn’t supposed to live.”
Gene Peretti, who represents Bey, and Gary Sirbu, who represents Mackey, said in their closing arguments in the trial that their clients should be found not guilty because Broussard’s testimony was unreliable, as he gave several different versions of what happened when Bailey was killed.
But Krum told jurors that although Broussard is an admitted killer and was not a model witness, they could believe him because other evidence in the case -- such as guns and bullets that were recovered by police -- corroborates his testimony.
Broussard’s mother, Aundra Dixon, 44, cried when he was sentenced today and expressed her condolences to Bailey’s family.
Afterward, she told reporters, “I don’t know what was going on his head when he did it.”
But Dixon said “he did what he was supposed to do” by testifying against Bey and Mackey.
Grim said he doesn’t think prosecutors could have convicted Bey and Mackey without Broussard’s testimony.
“Devaughndre did his part and basically told the truth on the witness stand,” Grim said.
Grim said Broussard “has good plans for the future” and wants to become an imam in the Muslim faith and “preach a compassionate version of Islam.”
Bailey’s cousin, Wendy Ashley-Johnson, said, “I’m glad this chapter is over” and she hopes the final chapter is over in two weeks when Bey and Mackey are sentenced.
“The whole thing is unfortunate and I’m both happy and sad,” she said.