Key witness missing as kidnapping-torture trial of an associate of the former Your Black Muslim Bakery nears
The Chauncey Bailey Project
OAKLAND — A convicted drug dealer described as a key defense witness in the upcoming kidnapping and torture trial of an associate of the former Your Black Muslim Bakery can’t be located and may be in fear for his life, lawyers said in court Monday.
According to court records, Johnny Anton of Stockton pointed out two women to bakery associates as the women left an East Oakland bingo parlor in 2007. Four bakery associates and former leader Yusuf Bey IV were later charged with taking the women to an abandoned house where they allegedly held one at gunpoint and tortured the other in a failed attempt to learn the location of a stash of drug money.
Two bakery associates — Bey IV’s half brothers Joshua Bey and Yusuf Bey V — have pleaded guilty and are cooperating with prosecutors. Another, Richard Lewis, is scheduled for trial next month. The exact start date of the Lewis trial has not been set. Lewis’ lawyer, Patrick Hetrick, said Anton is a key witness for Lewis’s defense but can’t be found.
Prosecutor Christopher Lamiero said Anton, who gave two statements to investigators has likely “gone underground.”
“He may be fearful for his life,” Lamiero said during a brief hearing in the Lewis case before Judge Thomas Reardon on Monday afternoon. But Lamiero said Anton could still face charges in the case and may be hiding to escape prosecution.
Bey IV is being tried in the kidnapping case separately, although he is scheduled first be tried later this year on triple murder charges stemming from 2007, including allegations that he ordered the killing of journalist Chauncey Bailey.
Bey IV and another defendant, Tamon Halflin, are to be tried separately after Bey IV’s murder trial. That’s because they were secretly videotaped together in a police holding cell discussing the case along with Joshua Bey.
Bey V and Lewis were not on the video, which is why their cases were made separate.
On the tape, Bey IV said he, Halfin and Joshua Bey needed to get their stories straight about the case and he believed the victims couldn’t identify them because they had bags over their heads. A judge has called the tape devastating evidence against Bey IV. Joshua Bey pleaded guilty in 2008 and will testify against Bey IV and Halfin.
Photo identification: Yusuf Bey IV, Yusuf Bey V, Tamon Halfin, Richard Lewis, clockwise from upper left (CChing/CIR)