Real estate heiress who posted $35M bail acquitted of murder

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A San Francisco Bay Area real estate heiress who was under house arrest on $35 million bail for more than two years plans to reconnect with her children and visit family in China after a jury acquitted her of killing the father of her kids, her attorney said Friday.

After deliberating for 12 days, jurors found Tiffany Li not guilty on charges of murder and conspiring with her boyfriend to kill 27-year-old Keith Green in 2016 over a custody dispute.

The case drew global attention when Li’s family, who made a fortune in real estate construction in China, posted one of the highest bail amounts on record in the United States.

Li wept Friday as the verdicts were read and rushed out of the building afterward. Jurors deadlocked on murder and conspiracy charges against Li’s co-defendant and boyfriend, Kaveh Bayat.

Attorney Geoffrey Carr said Li plans to travel to see family in China and strengthen her relationship with her children. She plans on bettering herself as a person, he said.

“Any time any defendant is found not guilty in a serious crime, they’re (given) a gift by somebody — I don’t believe in God, but somebody — and they should pay attention,” Carr said.

He bristled at a question that Li’s immense wealth allowed her to build a strong defense team that secured the not-guilty verdict. Carr said the team of three lawyers and four investigators would have worked just as diligently had they been appointed by a judge to a poor defendant.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said jurors gave “their heart and soul” to the decision.

“Obviously disappointed, obviously we don’t agree,” he said. “But as we always say, this is how the jury system works, and we respect the jury for what it does.”

Prosecutors said Li lured Green, her former boyfriend, to her mansion in Hillsborough, south of San Francisco, to discuss custody of their children. They say Bayat shot Green in the mouth and the two hired a friend to dispose of the body.

Prosecutors presented evidence that Green’s blood was found in Li’s Mercedes and gunshot residue was discovered in her garage.

Li’s attorneys argued that Green was killed in a botched kidnapping plot and that she had nothing to do with his death. She had settled the custody issues with her former boyfriend, they said.

Green's body was found along a dirt road north of San Francisco nearly two weeks after he was last seen meeting with Li about their children. The pair met around 2009.

The prosecution faced a setback earlier this month when its chief witness, Olivier Adella, was arrested on charges of contacting an ex-girlfriend and witness for the defense. Adella was expected to testify that Li and Bayat asked him to dispose of Green's body, but prosecutors did not call him as a witness.