A settlement in a wrongful death case brought by the mother of Keith Green is just about reaching completion in a San Mateo County court. But Tiffany Li, Green's ex who was acquitted of his murder in court though prosecutors maintain that she was likely guilty, wants the settlement amount kept secret.
As ABC 7 reports via a new court filing, Li is petitioning the judge for a second time to keep the terms of the civil settlement secret. Li's reason: She wants to protect her children from further negative media coverage, saying that she relocated herself and her kids, ages 7 and 9, to China because of this coverage.
"I aimed to shield my children from the xenophobia, Asian hate, and falsehoods publicized against me that I experienced while standing trial in the criminal proceeding," Li writes in her filing.
Let's just get one thing clear: Tiffany Li has never needed the media to promote any bias against her. The privileged young woman and mother of two was, at the age of 30, charged in Green's April 2016 murder. According to prosecutors, Li and Green had been in some tense negotiations over the custody of their girls in the months after they ended their romantic relationship, and in which Li had been living with an acquaintance of Green's, Kaveh Bayat, an MMA enthusiast and her new boyfriend.
Bayat would end up accused, along with Li, in a murder plot that ended with a third man, Olivier Adella — whose real name is Mustapha Traore — also an MMA fighter, disposing of Green's body by a road outside of Healdsburg. Adella has admitted to being an accessory after the fact and has done his time, but Li has maintained her innocence, at times suggesting that Bayat may have acted alone. (The 2019 murder trial ended in a mistrial for Bayat, and an acquittal for Li. The county has so far not opted to prosecute Bayat again.)
There seemed to be some kind of blood evidence in the Hillsborough home that Li and Bayat shared, as well as a slew of circumstantial evidence and a cryptic text from Li to Bayat the night of Green's disappearance that just said "green light." But this was apparently not enough to convict.
Li is certainly in a pickle if she hopes to keep this case entirely secret from her children as they get older — the public record is all there whether this settlement amount is publicized or not. And while there's no conviction or conclusive evidence linking Li to the murder of her children's father, there are bound to be some questions regardless of how this story has been covered.
Green's mother, Colleen Cudd, brought the civil suit against Li, and stands to get only $100,000 for herself. An undisclosed amount in the settlement is intended for the two children, to be put into a trust. Cudd also wants the settlement amount kept secret, for the sake of the girls' privacy, but Judge Danny Chou has said there is no legal precedent for him to keep the amount under seal.
As Cudd's attorney told the Associated Press earlier this year, "The purpose of the lawsuit was to give those girls financial freedom to ask questions about what happened. They are 7 and 9, they don’t need the whole world knowing how much money they have in the bank."
Li's legal team assembled statements from a psychologist, a social worker, and others to support the argument that the amount should remain secret.
"Prematurely disclosing the settlement amount and the minors' trust will likely serve to add fuel to an already emotionally challenging environment for these minor children when they return to the United States," said social worker Jennifer L. Winship in a statement to the court.
Prior to these filings, there had been no suggestion that Li planned to return to the U.S. with the children. There had been some courtroom drama in February surrounding what seemed to be some shuffling on Li's legal team.
Li, whose father is a construction magnate in China, grew up primarily in and around the Bay Area, and both children were born here.