gavel.jpgA lawyer for Antoine Mackey, an associate of former Your Black Muslim Bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV, compared Mackey to an associate of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler today in arguing that the triple-murder trial of Mackey and Bey should be moved away from Alameda County.

Gary Sirbu, Mackey’s lawyer, admitted that news stories about the highly publicized case discuss Bey much more than they discuss Mackey, but he said Mackey’s right to a fair trial has still been harmed because the stories associate Mackey with years of alleged criminal activity by bakery members.

“Mr. Mackey is in the same position as Hermann Goering,” Sirbu said, referring to the Nazi Party leader who worked closely with Hitler.

Goering was convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity at the Nuremberg trials after World War II and was sentenced to death, but he committed suicide the night before he was to be executed.

Sirbu also said Mackey is in the same position as that of an associate of Idi Amin, the Ugandan military dictator whose regime is suspected of killing more than 100,000 people, according to international observers.

Sirbu and Gene Peretti, Bey’s lawyer, have said throughout the three-day hearing on the defense’s change-of-venue motion that they believe press coverage about the murder case has been prejudicial and has jeopardized their right to a fair trial.

But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon, who is presiding over the hearing, noticed that reporters in the audience were taking notes about Sirbu’s comments about Goering and Amin and warned Sirbu that he had linked Bey and Mackey to Goering and Amin “in the public mind.”

Reardon took the venue motion under submission and said he will issue his ruling before Sept. 23, when Bey and Mackey are scheduled to return to court to have a trial date set.

Prosecutor Melissa Krum said she hopes the long-delayed trial of Bey and Mackey will be assigned to a trial courtroom by December, and that testimony will begin early next year.

Bey, 24, is accused of ordering the murder of Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey on Aug. 2, 2007, because Bailey was working on a story about the financial problems at the bakery, which was founded by Bey’s father, Yusuf Bey, in 1968. Mackey is also charged with murder in connection with Bailey’s death.

In addition, Bey is accused of ordering the fatal shootings of 31-year-old Odell Robertson Jr. in Oakland on July 8, 2007, and of 36-year-old Michael Wills in Oakland on July 12, 2007. Mackey is also charged with murder for his alleged participation in those crimes.

The bakery, which was founded by Bey’s father, Yusuf Bey, in 1968, closed in late 2007 after it went bankrupt.

Sirbu said he believes the minds of potential jurors in Alameda County have been prejudiced against Mackey and Bey because news stories have portrayed the bakery as a “corrupt” and “brutal” organization with members who would “kill at will, who are involved in fraud and whose founder had 27 counts of child molestation pending when he died” in 2003.

Sirbu suggested moving the trial to Los Angeles or San Diego counties, saying Mackey and Bey would have a better chance of getting a fair trial in those locations because potential jurors don’t know much about the case.

But Krum said it would be “premature” to grant a change-of-venue motion at this time, saying she thinks potential jurors who might have already made up their minds about the case could be removed during the jury selection process.

“It’s too early to say there’s a reasonable likelihood” that Bey and Mackey couldn’t get a fair trial in Alameda County, she said. “The idea that 12 impartial jurors can’t be found in Alameda County can’t be sustained.”

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

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