DUBLIN, Calif. (KRON) — Hillsborough heiress Tiffany Li’s former body guard was emotional as he told a judge his life story and explained why he joined a murder plot against the millionaire’s ex-boyfriend, Keith Green.
Li and her former fiance, Kaveh Bayat, were put on trial together as co-murder defendants in San Mateo County last year. The 34-year-old millionaire was acquitted, and after the jury deadlocked 6-6 over Bayat, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe dropped all charges against him.
Today, Li is living in China with her daughters, the victim’s mother told KRON4. Prosecutors said they are still convinced that Li gave a “green light” that put a murder plot into action against her daughters’ father.
Many mysteries remain about what really happened on April 28, 2016. One person with direct knowledge of what happened is the former body guard, who admitted to dumping Green’s body in a field. But the body guard is a problematic source of truth.
He lived under a fake identity for two decades that he stole from a man in France. Even during the murder trial, when he was initially slated to be a star witness, he was using the fake name: Olivier Adella.
It wasn’t until Li’s private defense team launched an international investigation against him that they uncovered that his real name: Mustapha Traore.
The Li team handed their evidence over to the Department of Homeland Security. Traore served three years in jail for being an accessory after the fact to the homicide. On the day he was slated to be freed from the Redwood City jail, ICE immigration agents swooped in and transported him to a federal detention facility at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin.
This past weekend, Traore was sentenced by a federal judge for committing passport fraud. The sentencing hearing was conducted via a Zoom video conference because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said Saturday’s sentencing was one of the hardest of his career. “There are a number of very strong factors pointing in different directions as to what the appropriate sentence should be,” he said.
Traore was allowed to make a statement, and he sobbed as he read a long letter about his life growing up in two African civil wars and how violence traumatized him. Traroe told that judge that he has a large face scar because he was stabbed in the mouth by a Liberian civil war fighter as he trying to save his mother from being raped, he said.
“After traveling country to country, my mother and I found ourselves in Liberia. I witnessed my mother getting raped by raiders, and I ended up getting stabbed in the mouth when I was trying to protect my mother. I was nine years old,” he said.
“All my life I have been running away from this memory. All my life, I have been terrified of this memory,” Traroe said while crying. “I feel like hell every single day. I’m not a bad person.”
“I was able to escape, made it to the Ivory Coast, into another civil war. The new government put a price on my head. Once you have a price on your head, you always have a price on your head,” Traroe said.
“I committed passport fraud to flee the Ivorian war. Your honor, I’m telling you my life story, not to seek pity for me … but to give me a chance to be the father I never had to my son. I beg the United States government for forgiveness,” Traroe said. “I hope I get a chance to right my wrong and to be a better human being.”
Traroe’s defense attorney, Jodi Linker, said his outlook on the world, and concept of family and loyalty, were drastically different from the average person because of traumatizing war zone experiences. He agreed to help Li and Bayat make Green disappear because of this twisted sense of loyalty, his attorney said.
The judge concurred that “(Traroe) has had a uniquely horrific childhood.”
Linker said, “I can see the connection between how he got himself in certain situations, and the past that he had. The connection of Mrs. Li and Mr Bayat asking him to do something (hide Green’s body) when they had been looking out for him.”
Traroe said he realizes now that the crimes he’s committed throughout his life were wrong and he promised to rehabilitate.
Bayat’s defense attorney, John May, described Traroe’s emotional plea as “crocodile tears.”
“He is a con man, a liar, and a killer,” May said. Throughout the murder trial, the defense teams of Bayat and Li asserted that Traroe was Green’s killer.
Federal prosecutors said they only brought one charge, passport fraud, against Traroe because it was the most readily provable. But they suspect he committed more crimes. Prosecutor Daniel Pastor said, “This is a highly unusual case. This is a defendant who has engaged in fraudulent conduct over almost 20 years. It’s a long pattern of lying to the government.”
The judge said he has concerns that Traroe will commit future crimes. Chhabria warned that if Traroe ever ended back in front of him again, there would be major consequences. The judge sentenced Traroe to spend six more months in the Santa Rita federal detention center.