SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The Hillsborough heiress murder trial shocked many around the San Francisco Bay Area when Tiffany Li and her co-defendant — former fiance Kaveh Bayat –were never convicted of committing a crime. The 34-year-old millionaire was acquitted, the jury deadlocked 6-6 over Bayat, and ultimately, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe dropped all charges against Bayat.
Prosecutors said they are still convinced that Li gave the “green light” putting a murder plot into action, and Bayat pulled the trigger that killed Keith Green. Green, 27, was the father of Li’s two young daughters.
The only person connected to the killing who is currently sitting behind bars is a man who goes by many names: Mustapha Traore, Olivier Adella, Moussa Mustaph, Mustafa Traore, and Scotte Traore. He is Li and Bayat’s former body guard and personal trainer.
KRON4 news obtained federal court documents this week revealing revelations and evidence that Traore, aka Adella, had a deeper involvement in the homicide than what San Mateo County investigators were able to previously nail down during their investigation.
Sources told KRON4 that Homeland Security was initially tipped off about Traore from an investigator who worked for Li’s defense team. Once he fell under the magnifying glass of immigration officials, they were able to translate a jail phone call that Traore made from jail in Redwood City to someone in the Ivory Coast of Africa.
“(Federal agents) translated a jail call in which the defendant, speaking in a West African dialect, admits to being present at the time of Green’s murder. Asked directly by the person he called in Ivory Coast who killed Green, defendant demurred, saying ‘people might be listening to our conversation [and] a Dioula speaker might be used to translate what we are saying.’ During the state investigation of the murder, law enforcement had not been able to translate this jail call,” investigators wrote.
During the murder trial, Traore was never named by prosecutors as someone who was at the murder scene. Bayat was pinned as the killer.
Green vanished the night of April 28, 2016. He met with Li in the Millbrae Pancake House parking lot to discuss custody of their children. Green was never seen alive again. Prosecutor Bryan Abanto said Li used the meeting as a ruse to lure Green inside her Mercedes G-wagon, drove him back to her Hillsborough mansion, and he was fatally shot execution-style by Bayat inside the garage.
Abanto said Bayat’s motive was to replace Green as the young millionaire’s boyfriend, and Li’s motive was to get rid of an ex who demanded money and child custody rights.
Li and Bayat’s defense teams said Green died at the hands of Traore as part of a botched robbery. Green’s family maintains that the motive was ridiculous because Green did not have any money after Li left him.
Traore is a Mixed Martial Arts fighter who admitted to prosecutors that he drove Green’s body over the Golden Gate Bridge and dumped the victim in a remote field. Green’s body was found in the field weeks after he went missing. It looked like all three of the people accused in Green’s killing were going to be walking free in 2020.
Homeland Security swoops in
Several reporters, including KRON4’s Amy Larson, waited outside the Redwood City jail on Jan. 10 to interview Traore the moment he was released from jail. Instead, a dozen HSI Homeland Security agents appeared and swooped Traore away in a vehicle to another jail in Alameda County.
Traore, 38, was being re-arrested under new charges: Passport fraud. He claimed to be from France, but he was actually born on the Ivory Coast, federal investigators said.
Sources said Traore is a Mixed Martial Arts fighter from the Ivory Coast, used a fake name even while marrying multiple women, and lives a “vagabond” life moving from place to place.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he once told his landlord, “I have fought in two civil wars in Africa, and I have killed people. I am crazy. My friends have killed people, and they are crazy too.”
Traore’s life crossed paths with Li, the daughter of an extremely wealthy Chinese real estate family, at the gym. Bayat and Traore met through training together at a gym and at Li’s mansion on West Santa Inez Avenue, sources said.
Detectives found $35,000 in cash, as well as Green’s diamond Cartier watch, stashed inside a lunchbox in Traore’s apartment.
New investigation uncovers more evidence against Traore’s role in Keith Green homicide
When Homeland Security launched an investigation into the man with many names, it uncovered more evidence and information about Traore’s role in the killing of Green.
In court documents filed earlier this year by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, federal investigators wrote, “Defendant is an Ivory Coast national who entered the United States in 2002 under the name ‘Olivier Adella’ using a fake French passport. He has remained in the United States for almost two decades under this alias. The name Olivier Adella, the birthdate July XX,1 1975, and the birthplace Sarcelles, France on the fake French passport belong to an actual French citizen. Defendant used this victim’s information to obtain U.S. immigration status and a U.S. passport. On the night of April 28–29, 2016, the defendant took part in the murder of San Mateo resident Keith Green. Defendant pleaded guilty to accessory to murder for his role in the crime; however, the sentencing judge stated on the record that the defendant played a greater role in the murder than the charge to which he pled guilty reveals.”
“Defendant told state investigators that although Li and Bayat offered him money to kill Green, he refused. He agreed to dispose of Green’s body because he felt he owed Li and Bayat for previously helping him and Uta Bredenstein financially. Asked by investigators whether Li and Bayat had offered him a gun or a knife to kill Keith Green, defendant responded: ‘I don’t need to, I break, I can break people . . . with my hand. I don’t need to use a gun . . . ‘ Defendant initially lied to state investigators about contacting Green on a burner phone under a false name in the days before the murder; telling Green that he was former professional football player; and suggesting that the two meet on the night of the murder,” federal investigators wrote.
“Defendant’s role in the murder of Keith Green, his history of violent and intimidating behavior toward other people, and his decades-long use of fake identities and fraudulent identity documents demonstrate that he is both a danger to the community and a serious flight risk,” federal investigators wrote,” federal investigators wrote.
Li and Bayat attended Traore’s wedding after Green disappeared
Uta Bredenstein married Traore in-between when Green went missing and when his body was found. Li and Bayat attended the small wedding ceremony.
Detectives showed up on the doorstep of Li’s multi-million-dollar mansion on April 29, 2016, to question her about Green’s disappearance. While knowing that the father of her children was missing, Li still attended a birthday party for Bredenstein’s daughter on May 1. On May 9, Traore and Bredenstein were married at City Hall. On May 11, the same day Green’s body was found, Traore applied for an expedited U.S. passport renewal using Bredenstein’s last name. He was planning to flee the country, federal investigators said. Traore received his new U.S. passport on May 18, and he was arrested on suspicion of homicide May 20.
Bredenstein spent hours on the witness stand during the trial. According to her testimony, Li said she was worried because Li lied to police detectives about whether Green was in Li’s car the night of the homicide. Li’s defense team pointed out that Bredenstein had also lied to police. When police detectives initially questioned Bredenstein in May of 2016, she told police that Traore was with her at home the entire night of April 28, 2016. She later admitted that he was gone for at least five hours, sometime between 11 p.m. April 28 and 4 a.m. April 29, from their apartment.
Federal charges keep Traore behind bars
On January 23, the U.S. Attorney’s Office released details of the intentional investigation into Traore, writing:
“A San Francisco grand jury returned an indictment charging Mustapha Traore, aka Olivier Adella, with making false statements in an application for a passport, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson; U.S. State Department, Diplomatic Security Service (DSS), San Francisco Field Office Special Agent in Charge Matthew Perlman; and Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Special Agent in Charge Tatum King. Traore, of Burlingame, Calif., made false statements about his true name and birthplace in his December 2011 application for a U.S. passport. The complaint alleges that in February 2002, Traore used a fake French passport with the name Olivier Adella to enter the United States. Further, the criminal complaint alleges that after Traore used the fake passport to enter the United States, he then used it to obtain immigration status and eventually a naturalization certificate. Then, after obtaining a California driver’s license under the name Olivier Adella, Traore applied for and obtained a U.S. passport.”
Traore made his initial federal court appearance on January 13, 2020. After a detention hearing on January 15, 2020, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim ordered that he be detained as a serious risk of flight.
If convicted, Traore would face a 10-year prison sentence and deportation once his sentence was completed. Traore is currently an inmate in Santa Rita Jail being held under federal charges, several names, and no bail. His next appearance in federal court is scheduled for Monday, when he may accept a plea deal from prosecutors.
The Hillsborough heiress murder trial made headlines with Li was released from jail by posting a record-breaking $35 million bail.
Juror regrets decision
One of the twelve jurors who found Li not guilty cried after prosecutors announced that they would not retry Bayat with a second murder trial.
“I just think there are two murderers who are free today and it feels like we didn’t do our job well enough in some way,” the juror told KRON4 in tears.
Two jurors told KRON4 they were hoping Bayat would face a second trial so that there would be justice for Green’s family.
“There was data that we thought we understood,” one juror said. “There was a much stronger guilt profile for Bayat. But when that data was taken away from us, several people decided that they couldn’t vote guilty with the evidence that we were allowed to use.”
The data that she was referring to had to do with the geographic locations of Li, Bayat, and Traore’s cellphones that they were carrying the night of the homicide. The locations of the phones showed that Li met with Green at the Millbrae Pancake House the night of the homicide. It then tracked them going back to Li’s Hillsborough mansion while being followed by Traore. From there, the phones went to Traore’s Burlingame apartment. The juror told KRON4 that she always believed Li was guilty but due to the circumstantial case there wasn’t enough evidence to convict her.
Bayat’s defense attorney, John May, told KRON4 that Bayat could be put on trial “100 times for this crime, and he would still be not guilty.”
‘You’re a coward and as evil as they come’
Traore was the only defendant who Green’s mother, Colleen Cudd, had a chance to deliver a victim impact statement to. During his final court appearance in connection to the Tiffany Li murder trial, Cudd looked Traore in the eye as she said, “You have cut a hole in my heart that will never, ever grow back. You’re a coward and as evil as they come.”
Cudd told Traore directly, “It’s 3:30 in the morning and I’m awake. For the past three and a half years, I’m awake at 3:30 in the morning. I think about April 28, 2016, and many thoughts race through my head. The one that haunts me the most is, ‘Did my son suffer physically or emotionally?’ The answer is always ‘yes.’ You took away my only child. My only son. You took a friend from many, too many to count. You took a good man from this Earth. He was kind and generous and loved everything. Everything except spiders. He hated spiders. You wove a web, and he was a fly that got caught up in it. Why would any of us ever forgive you? The good news, and listen closely, God will handle those who have wronged us. He does not let the guilty go unpunished.”
When KRON4 reached out to Cudd on Thursday to find out what she thought of the new evidence uncovered by Homeland Security.
She replied, “This guy is a piece of s**t. I’m not sure I’ll ever know the real truth about the night of April 28 2016. Their all liars and will pay the price for what they did to my son one way or another. It’s just a matter of time.”