By Laird Harrison
OAKLAND (Reuters) - The former leader of an Oakland-based black community organization was sentenced on Friday to life in prison for the murders of three men, including a journalist working on an expose about the group.
Yusuf Bey IV, 25, was sentenced by an Alameda County Superior Court judge to three consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole for the murders of Chauncey Bailey, Odell Roberson and Michael Wills in the summer of 2007.
Bailey, the editor of the Oakland Post, was the first U.S.-based journalist targeted and murdered for his work on a story in over a decade, said the Committee to Protect Journalists.
At the time of his death Bailey, 57, had been working on an expose about the Oakland-based Your Black Muslim Bakery, an African American business and community organization headed by Bey.
Bey ordered two of his followers, Antoine Mackey and Devaughndre Broussard, to kill Bailey because he believed the story would be "slanderous," prosecutors said.
"It is satisfying to see that the punishment fits the crime and that the perpetrators will not be able to attack journalists or anyone else in the future," said Frank Smyth, journalist security coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists. "Justice is served in this case."
Mackey was sentenced to two life terms following his June conviction of murder in the deaths of Bailey and a second man named Michael Wills, who prosecutors say was shot by Mackey in a random act of violence because he was white.
Bey was in the car with Mackey when they saw Wills, and he stopped the car to allow Mackey to shoot him, prosecutors said.
Earlier this year, Broussard was sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of manslaughter and admitting his role in the shooting deaths of Bailey and another man, Odell Roberson.
Roberson was ordered killed by Bey, because one of his relatives had killed Bey's brother in a carjacking, prosecutors say.
"Though I know I am innocent of the crimes of which I have been convicted, I do apologize to my family and the families of the victims for not making wiser decisions and allowing this to occur on my watch," Bey said in a statement read to the court by his attorney, Gene Peretti.
Peretti said he is appealing Bey's conviction.
(Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Tim Gaynor)