The San Mateo County jury emerged after 12 days of deliberations Friday to announce that they've found Tiffany Li not guilty of the 2016 murder of her ex and baby daddy Keith Green. They later declared that they were deadlocked on the verdict in the case against co-defendant Kaveh Bayat, and declared a mistrial in his case.
Li and Bayat have been on trial since September. Bayat was a friend of Greens, and the mixed-martial-arts fighter whom Li reportedly left Green to begin dating. She and Bayat were charged with Green's April 2016 murder following what prosecutors said was a dispute over the custody of the two children Li had with Green, as well as ongoing requests from Green for money. At the time of his death, Green and Li had recently broken up, and Green had been displaced in Li's Hillsborough mansion by Bayat.
The defense argued, apparently successfully, that the custody motive was false because those issues had already been settled, as KTVU reports. And they argued that Bayat's sometime "bodyguard," Olivier Adella, whom prosecutors believe was paid to dispose of Green's body, was the actual killer.
Convicting Bayat while acquitting Li would have been a strange outcome to say the least, but this is no stranger. Jurors returned to the deliberation room Friday to discuss Bayat's guilt or innocence. The jury said they found Bayat not guilty of gun charges in the case, as the Associated Press reports, and after further deliberations they returned and said they were deadlocked on the murder charge, as KRON 4 reports.
San Mateo District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe told the Mercury News that members of both Li's and Green's families were crying "quiet tears" in the courtroom as the verdict was being read. Wagstaffe further surmised that the jury was likely deadlocked on the murder charge against Bayat.
Prosecutors presented blood evidence that suggested Green's body had both been in Li's Mercedes and in a vehicle that belonged to Adella, which he quickly sold after the crime occurred. There was also blood evidence found in the "man cave" in Li's home that was reportedly occupied by Bayat.
Outside the courtroom Friday, Li's attorney Geoffrey Carr told KTVU, "I can say now to you what I would not say before for the last three and a half years … My client wasn’t just not guilty, but innocent."
Adella still faces potential murder charges in the case, after losing immunity in September after alleged witness tampering involving a defense witness. He had been set to be the prosecution's star witness in this trial, but instead he did not testify.
Investigators found a watch belonging to Green in Adella's possession, along with $35,000 in cash. Li's defense attorney presented the theory that Green had been killed in a botched kidnapping attempt by Adella, but the prosecution countered that the motive made little sense, given that Green didn't have any money of his own.
This article has been updated throughout to reflect the mistrial in the case against Bayat.