REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KRON) — It’s been two years since the “Hillsborough Heiress,” Tiffany Li, walked out of a San Mateo County courthouse as a free woman after a jury found her not guilty of murdering her ex-boyfriend, Keith Green.
Li moved to China with her two daughters, and she can never be prosecuted in criminal court again.
But she will be back in a Bay Area courtroom soon for a civil trial.
Green’s mother is suing Li and her co-defendant, Kaveh Bayat, for wrongful death. Li, 36, comes from a wealthy Chinese real estate family worth an estimated $100 million.
The civil trial is set to begin on Jan. 31, 2022 in San Mateo Superior Court in South San Francisco.
Li had to give a deposition this year in which she was peppered with questions from the plaintiff’s attorneys. She revealed for the first time her side of the story about what happened the night Green disappeared in Millbrae.
New information that came out of the deposition included:
- Li hired a private investigator to spy on Green after they broke up.
- Li wrote an apology letter to the victim while she was in jail saying she should have listened to him when he warned her about Bayat.
- Li has never spoken to Bayat since the day they were arrested by a SWAT team at her Hillsborough mansion.
- Bayat has a strange tattoo on his torso of Li’s face and a panda bear holding guns.
Li’s criminal trial had one of the most shocking verdicts in San Mateo County’s history.
To this day, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe says he has no doubt that Li and Bayat were the true killers. But his prosecutors simply didn’t have enough evidence to prove guilt beyond the shadow of a doubt.
Green’s mother, Colleen Cudd, said, “She orchestrated all of this. She’s evil.”
Two jurors told KRON4 that they regretted their verdict.
“I just think there are two murderers who are free today and it feels like we didn’t do our job well enough,” one juror said with tears in her eyes during a 2019 interview.
The same jury who found Li not guilty was deadlocked on Bayat’s verdict, 6-6, so a mistrial was declared for him.
Li’s ex-boyfriend could be put on trial again for murder, however, Wagstaffe said he will not retry Bayat unless new hard evidence comes to light.
“The case is not closed because when it comes to a homicide it’s never closed. But it’s fair to say it’s inactive,” Wagstaffe told KRON4 in a recent interview.
Cudd is also suing Olivier Adella, Bayat’s bodyguard who admitted to dumping Green’s body in a remote field north of San Francisco. Adella’s real name is Mustafa Traore, but he was referred to by his alias for the criminal trial and in new legal documents.
Tiffany Li tells her side of the story
Li was the last person who saw Green alive.
During her deposition, she said she still doesn’t know who murdered Green.
Green was murdered on April 28, 2016. A coroner testified that the autopsy showed someone forced a gun in Green’s mouth and pulled the trigger. The 27-year-old man’s body was found in the field weeks later.
Six months before the murder, Li had thrown Green out of her mansion and broken up with him. Bayat moved into the mansion as her new boyfriend.
Prosecutors said Li gave Bayat a “green light” to kill the father of her children.
Green and Li were in a custody battle over their two young daughters, and according to prosecutors, Li grew increasingly angry with Green asking her for money.
They met on the night of April 28 in the Millbrae Pancake House parking lot to talk about sharing custody of their children. According to Li, they talked inside her Mercedes G-Wagon, Green told her that he still loved her.
“I don’t remember the exact words. He just said he still loves me, and he said he wants to get back together with me and be, like, a whole family again with the kids,” Li said in her deposition.
Prosecutors said Adella was hiding in a car parked nearby because Bayat had instructed him to spy on Li’s meetup with Green.
Li said she left Green in the pancake house’s parking lot and drove away.
Prosecutors said Li did not leave Green in the parking lot. Instead, according to prosecutors, she lured him back to her Hillsborough mansion to be shot by Bayat, and they drove his body to Adella’s apartment building at 1800 Trousdale Dr. in Burlingame.
Li’s family owned several apartments in the Trousdale apartment building, and her alibi for going there that night was because she needed to pick up a rent check from a tenant.
Adella said Li and Bayat had previously tried to hire him as a hitman. He said he refused, but agreed to dump Green’s body in a remote field north of San Francisco.
When homicide detectives arrived at Li’s mansion on April 29, they found Li at home having dinner with Bayat, Adella, and Adella’s wife.
Body guard: Li will lose in civil court
Like Li, Adella also had to give a deposition this year ahead of the civil trial. Adella is a 6-foot, 5-inch tall mixed martial arts fighter. He illegally emigrated from the Ivory Coast after fighting in civil wars in Africa.
Adella told Li’s civil attorney, “I’m not scared of you. I’ve been through much worse than this place. Please believe me, I’ve been through hell, so talking to a dude like you is not going to scare me. Treat me with respect.”
He had some heated words to say about being “the fall guy.” Adella told Li’s attorney that he “can’t wait” to testify at the civil trial.
This time around, Li will lose, he said.
“I’ll see you at the trial, my friend. Your client … she beat the murder trial, right, because the prosecutor … was just extremely negligent, extremely incompetent with the sheriff. But the civil trial? Come on, man, she’s not going to beat that. She killed the father of her two kids,” Adella said.
Adella said he believes Li should pay the victim’s mother with a settlement out of “common decency.”
“Just pay these people — this poor lady money. My goodness. She killed the father of her two kids and you guys are here fighting for this? What kind of nonsense is that?” he told Li’s attorney.
During Li and Bayat’s criminal murder trial, their defense attorneys told the jury that Adella killed Green.
Adella pleaded no contest to being an accessory to murder after the fact, served three years in jail, and now lives in the north Bay Area.
Li’s apology letter to Green
Li’s deposition revealed that she wrote an apology letter to Green while she was locked up in the San Mateo County Jail.
The jury for her murder trial never knew about the letter because it was never presented as evidence.
In a letter dated July 18, 2016, Li wrote to Green, “I wish I never dated Kaveh and should have listened to you about him. I’m so sorry. I didn’t know when we finally got a chance to talk, would be the last time I’d see you. I was really sad when I got in here, because why me? But I chose to date Kaveh and bring bad people around me.· I’m always so f*****g stupid like you always would tell me before.”
Defense attorney John May told KRON4 in 2019 that Bayat is innocent.
Bayat could be put on trial “100 times for this crime, and he would still be not guilty,” May said.
Attorneys who questioned Li for the deposition accused her of manipulating Green and Bayat at the same time, and pinning the former friends against each other.
One attorney asked Li, “Ms. Li, isn’t it true that you manipulated Kaveh Bayat into thinking that Keith Green was a dangerous person? And isn’t it true that you manipulated Kaveh that Keith was a threat to your family? And isn’t it true that you manipulated Kaveh Bayat into thinking that Keith was a threat to your relationship? Isn’t it true that things got out of hand and Kaveh Bayat took it upon himself to move Keith Green from your life?”
Li denied the allegations.
Green’s family feels like justice will never be served through the criminal justice system.
Revealing questions and answers from Li’s deposition:
- Bayat has a strange tattoo on his torso of Li’s face and a panda holding guns:
Attorney: “Did Kaveh Bayat get a tattoo of your face on his stomach?”
Attorney: “And in the middle of his stomach, there’s a panda holding two firearms. Correct?”
Attorney: “Do you remember when Kaveh got this tattoo?”
Li: “It was a trip to Las Vegas.”
- Li has never spoken to Bayat since the day they were arrested by a SWAT team:
Attorney: “When did you and Kaveh break up?”
Li: “I don’t know because I got arrested.”
Attorney: “Okay. Did you talk to Kaveh after you got arrested?”
Attorney: “So the day that you got arrested was the last time you talked to Kaveh Bayat?”
Attorney: “You didn’t have any communication with him after that date?”
Attorney: “Okay. Did you speak to him after the criminal trial ended?”
Attorney: “Do you know where he is now?”
- Li gives her side of the story about what happened the night Green vanished in Millbrae
Attorney: “You told Kaveh that you were meeting Keith that night, right?”
Attorney: “What happened when you got to the Millbrae Pancake House?”
Li: “I think I called Keith to tell him I arrived. Keith got in my car and we talked.”
Attorney: “Did he have his cellphone with him?”
Li: “I don’t remember.”
Attorney: “What did you guys talk about?”
Li: “He said he wanted to move to Ohio. And we talked about that I didn’t think that was a good idea, but if he decided to do so, then, you know, that’s fine.”
Attorney: “What (else) did he say?”
Li: “I don’t remember the exact words. He just said he still loves me, and he said he wants to get back together with me and be, like, a whole family again with the kids.”
Attorney: “What did you say in response to that?”
Li: “I think I told him, at that moment, we were not ready to get back together yet and that — I think I said, like, I’m happy right now, and he should be happy, too.”
Attorney: “How long did your conversation last?”
Li: “It was about an hour.”
Attorney: “And did you see Olivier Adella’s Chrysler 300 in the parking lot of the Millbrae Pancake House?”
Attorney: “What happened when you and Keith were done speaking?”
Li: “He got out of my car, and I drove away.”
Attorney: “·What did you do next?”
Li: “Then I drove to 1800 Truesdale.”
Attorney: “And why did you go to 1800 Truesdale?”
Li: “Because I wanted to pick up the rental check from my friend, Vu Ho.”
Attorney: “And where did you go, after Vu’s house?”
Li: “I think I drove home.”
Attorney: “How is it that you don’t have a better memory of this night? April 28th, 2016, is the night that the
father of your children disappeared, correct? Are you aware of the fact that April 28th, 2016, is the night that Keith Green disappeared?”
Attorney: “So you have no knowledge of the evening that the father of your children disappeared, except for conversations with your attorneys?”
Attorney: “The silly details of what happened that night don’t stick out in your mind, Ms. Li? As you sit here today, do you know how Keith Green died?”
Attorney: “As you sit here today, do you know if Kaveh Bayat had anything to do with Keith Green dying?”
·Ms. “Li, if Kaveh Bayat were never in your life, do you think that Mr. Green would be alive today?”
Li: “I don’t know why Mr. Bayat being in my life would have anything to do with that.”
- Li wrote an apology letter to the victim while she was in jail:
Attorney: “Did you write a letter to Keith, on his birthday, when you were in custody, in San Mateo County (Jail)?”
Li: “Yes, I wrote this letter after I retained my attorney, (Geoffrey) Carr.”
Attorney: “And it’s dated July 18, 2016, right?”
Attorney: “(The letter writes) ‘I wish I never dated Kaveh and should have listened to you about him. I’m
so sorry, so sorry. I didn’t know when we finally got a chance to talk, would be the last time I’d see you.'”
Attorney: “What (do) you mean when you say that you’re sorry?”
Li: “That I didn’t believe Keith said Kaveh was lying about things.”
Attorney: “(The letter writes) ‘I was really sad when I got in here, because why me? But I chose to date Kaveh and bring bad people around me.· I’m always so f*****g stupid like you always would tell me before. Everyone thinks I have something to do with this, but only you know the truth.'”
- Li describes the love triangle
Attorney: “Can you tell us how you first met Keith Green?”
Li: “I met Keith Green in high school through mutual friends.”
Attorney: “How old were you?”
Attorney: “How old was he?”
Li: “He was three years younger than me, so around 14.”
Attorney: “When did you guys start dating?”
Li: “We started dating in 2000.”
Attorney: “How did you meet Kaveh Bayat?”
Li: “I met Mr. Bayat through Keith. Keith used to buy marijuana from Kaveh.”
- Li hired a private investigator to spy on Green after she broke up with him:
Attorney: “How many supervised visits did Keith have (with their daughters)?”
Li: “I don’t remember how many times now. I wasn’t allowed to be present at the visit.”
Attorney: “Did you hire private investigators to spy on Keith during that time?”
Li: “Yes, I did.”
Attorney: “Why did you do that?”
Li: “I wanted to make sure that Keith was having a job and he wasn’t on drugs. And I wanted to make sure he was actually having a place to stay, a stable home, so when the girls go visit him or live with him, then they will be safe, in a safe environment.”
Attorney: “Did you learn anything concerning from the private investigator?”
Li: “I think one time the investigator told me that Keith came out with a paper bag he thought might be alcohol and he smelled of weed.”
Attorney: “Okay. Was he with your kids at that time?”
Li: “No, he wasn’t.”
Attorney: “Okay. So this was on his own time?”
Attorney: “Did you hire a private investigator to see if Keith was going out with Cynthia (Green’s new girlfriend)?”
READ: Complete depositions given by Tiffany Li and Olivier Adella
Revealing questions and answers from Adella’s deposition
Adella: “I’ve been through much worse than this place. Please believe me, I’ve been through hell, so talking to a dude like you is not going to scare me. So you treat me with respect — disrespect, talk to me condescendingly, I will talk to you in a condescending manner. I’m not scared of you.”
Attorney: “Mr. Adella, will you agree to come to the trial for this case if we serve you with a subpoena?”
Adella: “Not only … will I come, I will testify, and I can’t wait. And it’s not going to be the result you’re looking for.”
Attorney: “What should I be concerned about?”
Adella: “Don’t worry, I’ll see you at the trial, my friend. Your client … she beat the murder trial, right, because the prosecutor … was just extremely negligent, extremely incompetent with the sheriff. But the civil trial? Come on, man, she’s not going to beat that. She killed the father of her two kids.”
Adella: “I think it’s just common decency. Just pay these people — this poor lady money. My goodness. She killed the father of her two kids and you guys are here fighting for this? What kind of nonsense is that?”
Adella: “She won already. She killed a guy, took her two kids. She got out of the murder trial. Her money (paid) for all that. And you guys are here defending this woman?”
Adella: “My goodness, money is really evil. And I’m being sued too. I understand why I’m being sued. You don’t see me crying, fighting for it. And I didn’t kill anybody. I got used, I got — I got set up as a fall guy. Your client did the killing.”
Adella: “Please take me to trial. Make sure the media is there. Trust me, you’re going to love it. Go ahead, now you can ask me a question. I’m not being combative.”
Attorney: “Can I ask the next question, please?” While you were in the — the man cave — did Kaveh Bayat ask you to kill Keith Green?”
Adella: “He did not use the word kill.”
Attorney: “What did — what did Kaveh Bayat ask you to do?”
Adella: “Get rid of him.”
Attorney: “And did you hear Tiffany say the same thing out of her mouth to you?”
Adella: “She never said the same word(s), ‘get rid of him,’ but she basically … she put a rubber stamp on it.”
Adella: “I told them I can do a lot of things; but that, I cannot do. I can scare people, I can do a lot of things; but this man isn’t a threat to me, he is not a threat to my wife, he’s not a threat to my dog, and he’s not a threat to my son. I cannot do this.”
Adella: “And you can see the sadness on Kaveh’s eyes, and the disappointment. And then that’s when Kaveh jump(ed) in and say $50,000. Now, who offers $50,000 to scare someone? Yes they meant to kill him. They both hated him. She really, really, really hated him. Ultimately, they went and killed him and brought the dead body to me.”