A former member of the now-defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery in Oakland pleaded no contest today to one count of kidnapping and two counts of carjacking for his role in the abduction and torture of two women seven years ago.
Richard Lewis, a 30-year-old former football star at Mission High School in San Francisco, faces a term of 20 years in state prison when he’s sentenced by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Paul Delucchi on Dec. 5.
Prosecutors said the May 17, 2007, crime was a bungled attempt to get money to save the bakery from bankruptcy, as it faced a foreclosure hearing four days later. The bakery went bankrupt and closed its doors later that year.
Lewis was convicted on April 7, 2010, of kidnapping, torture and carjacking for the abduction of a mother and daughter on May 17, 2007, in what prosecutors said was an attempt to get money to save the bakery, which was run by Yusuf Bey IV, from bankruptcy.
On Dec. 10, 2010, Lewis was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Prosecutor Chris Lamiero alleged at Lewis’ trial that Lewis, bakery leader Yusuf Bey IV and several other bakery associates kidnapped and tortured the victims to get them to reveal where a drug dealer they knew kept his money.
Lamiero said in his closing argument that Lewis cut the daughter with a knife and threatened her with a curling iron.
Lewis testified that he had anything to do with the crime and he likely was at the bakery when it occurred.
Lewis’ trial attorney, Patrick Hetrick, told jurors that Lewis was framed by Bey’s half-brothers, Joshua Bey and Yusuf Bey V. Both pleaded guilty and received reduced sentences in exchange for their testimony.
In February, a three-member panel of the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco overturned Lewis’ conviction, saying the evidence against him was “far from overwhelming” and jurors were allowed to hear too much “inflammatory” evidence about other crimes committed by bakery members, including the August 2007 murder of journalist Chauncey Bailey.
The appellate court agreed with Hetrick, saying, “There is no strong evidence of guilt (against Lewis) apart from the testimony of accomplices who benefited greatly from their participation in the prosecution case.”
The court sent Lewis’ case back to Alameda County Superior Court for a new trial but the plea agreement means he won’t stand trial again.
The kidnapping and torture of the two women on May 17, 2007, occurred just 15 days after a San Francisco jury acquitted Lewis of murder, attempted murder and robbery charges stemming from a March 1, 2005, fatal shooting in the city’s Sunset District.
Bey was convicted of 2011 of ordering the murders of Bailey and two other men in the summer of 2007 and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Lewis’ new attorney, William DuBois, said today that Lewis’ plea agreement is “a fair disposition under the circumstances of the case.”
DuBois said Lewis “was an outsider to the Your Black Muslim Bakery Crowd” and he had associated with its members for only a short time before the crime occurred.
He said Lewis “was taken aback by some of their antics” and didn’t have anything to do with the murders of Chauncey Bailey and the two other victims in Bey’s case.
Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News