Bey who took plea deal begins testimony
By Paul Rosynsky, Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — A member of Your Black Muslim Bakery who took a deal to testify against fellow members in a kidnapping and torture case said Thursday that he did not believe leader Yusuf Bey IV planned the crime, because it was not a smoothly run operation.
“‘Cause it was not like the movies,” Joshua Bey, 19, said in explaining why he did not think Bey IV, 22, planned the event. “Most of the kidnapping you see on TV was nothing like what we were doing.”
Joshua Bey is testifying for the prosecution in the case, which includes charges of torture and kidnapping against four members of the bakery — Bey IV; Yusuf Bey V, 21; Tamon Halfin, 21; and Richard Lewis, 23.
In exchange for his testimony, Joshua Bey will be sentenced to just three years in prison, instead of facing life in prison — the sentence facing the other four defendants.
Joshua Bey was on the stand Thursday at the continuation of a preliminary hearing, after which a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to proceed to a jury trial. He is expected to continue testimony today.
Joshua Bey’s decision to flip sides and take a deal shocked the courtroom — including the defense attorneys — when the move was announced in February by Deputy District Attorney Scott Patton.
At the time, the scene was tense as the defendants shouted at Joshua Bey and bailiffs filled the courtroom.
The scene was much more relaxed Thursday.
Extra bailiffs were on hand, but most everyone appeared more at ease. At times, Joshua Bey laughed on the stand and talked back to defense attorneys who were questioning him.
Joshua Bey laughed at David Kelvin, defense attorney for Bey V, and questioned the attorney about relevance after he asked whether Joshua Bey was violating Muslim food rules when he ate at McDonald’s.
“What’s this got to do with anything?” Joshua Bey asked, laughing.
Bey IV also joined in the laughter, quipping that he was not going to hurt anyone as a bailiff took off a handcuff.
“I’m not going to hurt nobody, I’m a baker,” Bey IV said.
Joshua Bey’s testimony also did not have the same impact it had in February when he described the incident and placed all the defendants at the scene.
Instead, the questions and answers were focused more on the bakery’s operations and the specific instructions Joshua Bey remembered receiving.
Joshua Bey said he remembered Bey IV telling him to collect money from a woman. Joshua Bey said he didn’t know how to get around East Oakland, so he brought Halfin along.
Joshua Bey testified he was surprised later that night of May 17, when he saw Bey IV driving past him and Halfin on Interstate 580 in a fake police cruiser.
The defendants are accused of kidnapping and torturing two women in May. According to police and Joshua Bey’s previous testimony, the members used a fake police cruiser to pull over two women on Interstate 580.
They then allegedly took the women to an abandoned house in East Oakland and tortured one of them in hopes of getting money.
They were eventually arrested because they left cell phones and cars at the scene of the crime.
Joshua Bey’s testimony also revealed details about the bakery’s operation. He said no one at the bakery received regular paychecks, and some members had set schedules to work for the bakery’s security company. He said he had been baking goods for the business since he was 2 years old.
Joshua Bey also spoke briefly about why he decided to take the plea deal.
He said he was not lying in an attempt to save himself and said he took the deal because he was being charged for something he did not do.
“I’m doing it because I wish I wasn’t in this position,” he said. “I mean I didn’t do anything.”
And he said he was confused that Bey IV would place him in this predicament.
“I always felt that IV would never put me through this situation,” Joshua Bey said. “He never had before.”
Joshua Bey said that the way the crime occurred and the way Bey IV ordered him to lie to police made it look like he was more involved in the operation than he was.
“I didn’t know what was going on, and I got all mixed up in it,” he said. “It made it look like I did a lot of stuff when all I did was drive.”
Contact Paul Rosynsky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 510-208-6455.