A high-profile murder case that produced no guilty verdicts is now in a civil trial, with the accused billionaire heiress in China, but the depositions show the suspects are all still pinning it on the others.
Some of you may remember the Hillsborough Heiress murder trial of 2019, with a cast of characters that included an MMA fighter and a neck-tattooed boyfriend all accused to some degree in the 2016 murder of Millbrae resident Keith Green. If not, a quick CliffNotes recap — Green and Tiffany Li (the U.S.-raised heiress to a Chinese construction fortune) were in a custody dispute over their two children, and it was alleged that she and Kaveh Bayat (neck-tattooed boyfriend) killed Green, and hired multiple-alias-having Olivier Adella (MMA fighter) to dispose of the body. Li was released on a record $35 million bail, which was met under California law by $66 million in property assets, and all that paid off, because she was found not guilty in November 2019.
But as with the O.J. trial, the lack of a criminal guilty verdict did not protect her from a civil trial. That trial is not yet underway, but KGO has bits from Li’s pre-trial deposition (conducted over Zoom, as she’s still lying low in China) that preview what’s coming.
And it may not surprise you that Li is blaming Bayat and Adella, and saying she had nothing to do with the murder. “After Ms. Li heard all the evidence from the criminal trial, Ms. Li believes Defendant Olivier Adella and/or Defendant Kaveh Bayat killed decedent Keith Green," Li's attorneys wrote. "The sole cause of the death of Keith Green was due to the acts and/or omissions committed by Defendant Olivier Adella and Defendant Kaveh Bayat. Ms. Li has no liability in this matter."
Keith Green’s mother, Colleen Cudd. is bringing the civil trial, and her attorneys pressed Li on what she told the two kids, then aged seven and nine, about their father’s death (“I just told them that he loved them a lot."). She was also asked if she told them the cause of death (“I just told her that I would tell her when she gets older.”)
Bayat was fingered by the prosecution as the likely triggerman in Green's killing during the 2019 trial, but there was only circumstantial evidence linking Li to the crime — including blood evidence at her home, and an odd text message to Bayat just before Green's murder in which she just said, "green light." The night Green disappeared, he had been meeting with Li at a diner to discuss custody arrangements for their two children — and Li's defense attorneys suggest she had no motive to kill him because they had allegedly reached and amicable settlement. Adella was portrayed as an accessory after the fact, having likely been solely responsible for the disposal of Green's body up near Healdsburg, where he was found weeks after his death.
Adella — whose real name is Mustapha Traore, pleaded no contest to being an accessory and was released with time served following an additional passport fraud trial last July — was also recently deposed and was far more vocal, even trash-talking under oath like a true MMA fighter. "I didn't kill anybody," he’s quoted as saying in his deposition. "I got used, I got — I got set up as a fall guy. Your client did the killing. Please take me to trial. Make sure the media is there. Trust me, you are going to love it."
That civil trial is slated to start in January 2022.
Image: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office