RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
Oakland, California is revisiting a crime that shocked the city four years ago. Two men are on trial for the murder of a popular journalist - Chauncey Bailey. He was gunned down on his way to work in 2007. Prosecutors say Chauncey Bailey was killed because he was writing an expose on a local bakery run by a Black Muslim group. The owner of the bakery is accused of masterminding the murder. NPR's Richard Gonzales reports.
RICHARD GONZALES: Even in a city that has seen more than its share of street murders, the brazen killing of Chauncey Bailey in broad daylight struck a raw nerve. Here's KTVU news anchor Dennis Richmond reporting on August 2, 2007.
(Soundbite of news broadcast)
Mr. DENNIS RICHMOND (News Anchor): Today, in downtown Oakland, in front of horrified witnesses, a masked man dressed in dark clothing, armed with a shotgun, assassinated a well-known Oakland journalist. Fifty-seven-year-old Chauncey Bailey was editor of the Oakland Post, a newspaper that primarily serves the African-American community.
GONZALES: At the time, representatives for the Oakland Post said they believed Bailey was slain in connection with a story he was writing about the financial problems of Your Black Muslim Bakery. The 30-year-old bakery employed ex-cons who converted to Islam.
A day after Bailey's murder, police raided that bakery. They recovered the shotgun and a spent shell linked to a fatal head wound Bailey suffered after he had already been shot twice in the torso.
Police also arrested then-20-year-old Devaughndre Broussard, a janitor at the bakery who had a criminal record. Initially he denied killing Bailey. Then he confessed, saying that he had acted alone. But later, in an interview with "60 Minutes," Broussard recanted.
(Soundbite of TV show, "60 Minutes")
Mr. DEVAUGHNDRE BROUSSARD: I never heard about Chauncey Bailey. I never met him. I never seen him. The first time I heard about Mr. Chauncey Bailey was that night I got arrested.
GONZALES: About a year later, Broussard again changed his story. In a plea agreement, he confessed to killing not only Chauncey Bailey, but also another man, Odell Roberson, just a few weeks before shooting the journalist. And he said had acted on the orders of Yusuf Bey IV, the owner of Your Black Muslim Bakery.
But Yusuf Bey's attorney, Gene Peretti, says his client is innocent and that Broussard's plea agreement means he has a motive to lie.
Mr. GENE PERETTI (Attorney): Well, it's fundamentally his word. He's the person that finds himself in a situation where he has in essence confessed to two murders, and he starts thinking about it, he gets an attorney, and all of a sudden he's going to cut a deal.
GONZALES: But Peretti's client, the defendant Yusuf Bey, has his own credibility problems. Bey had been arrested on a separate kidnapping charge. He told police he had no knowledge of Bailey's murder. Police put him in a holding room with two underlings and secretly videotaped their conversation.
(Soundbite of recording)
Mr. YUSUF BEY (Owner, Your Black Muslim Bakery): That fool said, pow, pow, poof(ph).
GONZALES: Bey is whispering, so the audio is difficult to hear. The video was obtained by the Chauncey Bailey Project, a collaboration of San Francisco Bay Area news groups created to investigate Bailey's murder. Robert Rosenthal of the Center for Investigative Reporting leads the project and says the video points to a conspiracy.
Mr. ROBERT ROSENTHAL (Center for Investigative Reporting): The video shows Yusuf Bey IV in a holding cell basically describing the murder of Chauncey Bailey and the assassination with the detail of even laughing about sort of the way his head would jerk back when I believe it was the second or third shot from a shotgun hit him in the head.
GONZALES: It's known whether Yusuf Bey will take the stand in his own defense. The trial is expected to last several weeks.
Richard Gonzales, NPR News, San Francisco.
MONTAGNE: And you can see the video from the Chauncey Bailey Project on our website at NPR.org.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.