REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (KRON) – A “burner phone” named Vladimir Putin, lunch boxes filled with suspected blood money and a diamond Cartier watch, a “green light” text message, an imposing Mixed Martial Arts fighter, gun locks with no guns, and a $35 million bail posted to keep a young Hillsborough heiress out of jail — those are among the thespian, sometimes shocking elements that defense attorneys for heiress Tiffany Li and prosecutors have sparred over for the past four weeks.
Li and her boyfriend, Kaveh Bayat, are co-defendants, charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. The victim is 27-year-old Keith Green, Li’s ex-boyfriend and the father of her two daughters.
Defense attorney Geoff Carr delivered fiery closing arguments Wednesday, hammering hard on whether key pieces of evidence should be considered factually correct, or even believable. Carr urged the jury to look at the evidence from every angle, and not from the one-dimensional lens construed by prosecutors, he said.
Li and Bayat have pleaded not guilty. Their body guard, Olivier Adella, is the only person who has admitted his involvement in the plot, admitting that he was paid to get rid of the body by driving it in his Chrysler over the Golden Gate Bridge to a remote field in Sonoma County.
Carr used the majority of his closing arguments painting Adella as a “nefarious con man” who kidnapped Green in a botched robbery.
The lunchboxes filled with $35,000 in cash and Green’s diamond Cartier watch were found by police inside Adella’s Burlingame apartment. Carr emphasized that Adella’s wife testified that Adella didn’t like “fancy things,” but he did like watches.
“People get killed in criminal actions all the time. Killing somebody is unfortunately easy,” Carr said.
Wednesday morning began with closing arguments from San Mateo County prosecutor Bryan Abanto. He said Li is responsible for putting the plot to kill Green into action the moment she texted Bayat, “Green light” on April 1.
“Tiffany kicked the plan into action,” Abanto said.
According to Abanto, money was the primary motive for Li and Bayat to conspire and commit murder. He said Tiffany’s frustration with Green repeatedly asking her for more money turned to anger, and Bayat wanted to replace Green in order to live a lavish lifestyle through Li.
“Green wanted to get back together with Miss Li. As long as he’s alive, he’s a threat to Mr. Bayat’s new life. Mr. Bayat moved into Green’s shoes,” Abanto said.
Abanto played a video that Bayat recorded two days after Green was killed. He was pushing Li and Green’s daughter in a shopping cart, and referred to the young girl as “my daughter.” Bayat was spinning the cart in circles while the girl was sitting under the cart, sounding distressed.
“That girl’s father was missing,” Abanto said with emotion.
According to prosecutors, on the night of April 28, 2016, Li lured Green to her Hillsborough mansion, Bayat forced a gun into Green’s mouth and pulled the trigger, Li and Bayat drove the body to their body guard’s Burlingame apartment building, and Adella drove the body north.
Carr scoffed over one part of Abanto’s closing arguments, when the prosecutor suggested that no blood was found inside Li’s Mercedes G-wagon perhaps because plastic was used to cover the G-wagon’s interior. Carr said no testimony or evidence from the trial ever supported that a plastic tarp was used, and he began to mock the notion as “the magic tarp.”
Prosecutors said Li and her boyfriend spent “a solid month” planning how they were going to kill Green, exhibiting premeditation with malice. Abanto meticulously showed the jury a timeline of texts sent between Li, Bayat, Adella, Adella’s wife Uta Bredenstein, and “burner phones” used by Bayat and Adella to allegedly coordinate the plot. He also used each person’s cellphone to geographically track their movements the night of the homicide.
Neither Li, Bayat, nor Adella testified during the trial. Adella was thrown out as a witness when he violated his plea agreement. So instead of facing a lesser charge of being an accessory to a murder, he’s back behind bars with no bail while he waits to be put on trial for murder.