VERDICT REACHED: On Nov. 15, a jury reached a verdict for Tiffany Li. She has been found not guilty of murdering Keith Green. She has been exonerated of all charges.
We are still awaiting a verdict for her co-defendant Kaveh Bayat.
TIFFANY LI: The 34-year-old heiress is accused of luring Keith Green to her Hillsborough mansion to be murdered on April 28, 2016, according to prosecutors. She was the last person Keith Green came into contact with before he disappeared, investigators said. Prosecutors say text messages show that Li and Green met in the Millbrae Pancake House parking lot to talk about their children that evening, and Li told investigators that she left him in the parking lot after they had a amicable talk.
KAVEH BAYAT: Bayat, 33, is Li’s boyfriend. Prosecutors accused him of murdering Green execution-style by shooting him through the mouth. Prosecutors said Bayat wanted to replace Green and get rid of him as a threat to his new lavish lifestyle. “Mr. Bayat moved into Green’s shoes. As long as he’s alive, he’s a threat to Mr. Bayat’s new life,” Abanto said.
KEITH GREEN: The 27-year-old former Bay Area high school sports star was the father of Li’s two young daughters. He dated Li for six years before they broke up in 2015. A custody battle over their children and money ensued.
OLIVIER ADELLA: The Mixed Martial Arts fighter was a friend of Li and Bayat, and worked as a body guard and personal trainer. He told investigators that he was paid thousand of dollars to hide Green’s body. Adella was supposed to be the prosecution’s star witness, but he was removed and re-arrested after he allegedly violated his plea deal by contacting a defense witness.
UTA BREDENSTEIN: She is Adella’s wife. She testified that she overheard Bayat talking about holding a gun to Green’s head and boasting that detectives did not have any evidence against him. She said Adella was home with her the night of the homicide, but later admitted he was actually gone for several hours. She married Adella just days after Green was murdered, and Li and Bayat attending the small ceremony. Defense attorneys told the jury that Bredenstein is not credible as a witness, especially because she’s highly motivated to save her husband from a long prison sentence.
2009: Green and Li meet. He is 21 and she is 23. Green is a popular former high school football star from a blue-collar neighborhood who dreams of becoming a chef. She is an heiress from a wealthy Chinese family that made millions through real estate contracts with the Chinese military.
2009-2015: They date, move in together, and have two children.
October 2015 – Li and Green’s relationship falls apart, prosecutors outline in court. Green cheated on Li with another woman, according to a FaceTime conversation shown in court. Bayat meets Li and he tells her to break up with Green, according to a friend’s testimony. Li kicks Green out of her Hillsborough mansion and Bayat moves in.
Winter of 2015: The couple has disputes over money and child custody. According to Li, Green asked her family for $40 million in exchange for him to give up all custody of their two daughters. He later asked for a far lower amount, including paying for his rent and giving him a car. Green had a part-time job earning $15 an hour, while Li’s family was worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Spring 2016 – Green lives with his girlfriend, Cynthia Pinto, in an apartment in Millbrae. The Millbrae Pancake House is located just across the street from the apartment.
Li is growing increasingly frustrated and annoyed that her ex-boyfriend frequently asks for money, according to prosecutors.
Bayat, Li, Bredenstein, and Adella go on a trip together to the beach town of Santa Cruz. Li lets Adella and Bredenstein move into one of the apartments her family owns at 1800 Trousdale Dr. in Burlingame and gave them $13,000 in cash to help pay for their rent. Soon after moving in, according to Bredenstein, she found a diamond Cartier watch in a drawer in the kitchen, showed it to Adella, and Adella put the watch in a lunchbox. The expensive watch belonged to Green.
April 1, 2016: Prosecutors allege Li texted Bayat “Green light.” “Tiffany kicked the plan into action,” Abanto said. The “green light” text conversation unfolded as Li was venting to Bayat that Green was pressuring her for money again, according to text messages shown to the jury.
“F**ck that,” Li texted, according to the messages shown in court. Bayat texted back, “He’s trying to get money again. What a little snake. That’s all he wants, it’s not about the kids.”
April 18, 2016: Adella buys “burner phones,” according to prosecutors. Prosecutors said Bayat and Adella used the burner phones to coordinate the killing and communicate.
April 25, 2016: Green and Li talk on FaceTime and Li records the conversation. Green tells Li that he plans to move to Ohio because he can’t afford to live in the San Francisco Bay Area anymore. Green says that he is sad to leave his children behind, but he felt like he had no choice. Li tells Green that she wishes he would stay local for their children.
“I don’t really think you care about anything but your own stuff,” Green told Li.
Li told Green that “we both made mistakes,” that she just wanted to move on, and that she was happy with Bayat. The conversation ended with Green hanging up on Li. According to Abanto, Green was giving Li “an out” by moving away, but Li had already made up her mind to murder him.
April 27, 2016: Li sends text messages to her friend expressing anger over Green asking her for money, according to prosecutors. “Frustration rises to anger from Miss Li (because of) constant hit ups for money,” Abanto said.
Li and Green make plans to meet the following evening to talk about their children and for Li to give Green a carseat. Green has an upcoming unsupervised visit with the children, and he needs a carseat so that he will be able to drive with them in his car. Green’s mother tells him to not trust Li, and only meet with her in a safe public space. Li says she will not be free to meet until about 9 p.m. She first proposes that they meet in a park, but Green says 9 p.m. is too late to meet in a park. Li then suggests that they meet at 1800 Trousdale Dr. in Burlingame but Green declines. They finally agree to meet in the parking lot of Millbrae Pancake House. “She’s luring him to the place she wants him to be to kill him,” Abanto said.
Li exchanges text messages with Vu Ho. Ho rents an apartment at 1800 Trousdale Drive and usually mails his rent checks to Li’s family. Li told Ho that she would pick up his rent check in person the night of April 28. Prosecutors said the rent check pickup was a ruse created by Li so that she and Bayat would have an alibi.
April 28, 2016 : Green texts Li, “Thanks again for taking the time to meet me.” Li replies, “All good. Just please don’t argue with me. Peaceful talk.”
Green and Li have an amicable talk in the parking lot of Millbrae Pancake House and Green asks Li to get back together with him, according to Li. Prosecutors say Green is then lured by Li back to her mansion, shot to death by Bayat, and his body is carried into Li’s Mercedes G-wagon.
According to Adella’s statements to investigators, Li and Bayat arrived at his 1800 Trousdale Drive apartment complex with Green’s body in the backseat of Li’s G-wagon. Adella said the body was moved into his Chrysler before he drove over the Golden Gate Bridge and found a remote field in Sonoma County to hide Green’s remains.
Green’s girlfriend reported him as missing after he failed to return from the pancake house.
April 29, 2016 – Li calls Green’s cellphone and leaves a voicemail saying that she heard he was missing and wanted to check to see if he was OK.
The “burner phones” are thrown away and never used again, according to Abanto.
Green’s friends organize searches for him. One friend suggests that they search north because Green’s cellphone had been found in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Li says they should look south around San Jose. “She’s trying to throw everyone off,” and lengthen the amount of time it takes to find Green’s body, Abanto said.
May 1, 2016: Bredenstein throws a birthday party for her daughter. Li attends the party.
May 4, 2016 – Li goes to the San Mateo Sheriff’s Office. Detectives tell her that she is free to leave at anytime during the interview. Li says contacted the Sheriff’s Office to ask for help to find Green. Green is classified as a missing person. Detectives confront Li over what they perceive as a lie. Li had told investigators that she left Green in the pancake house parking lot, but geo-tracking of Green’s cellphone showed the phone closely followed Li’s locations after she drove away in her G-wagon. Prosecutors say Green and his cellphone were inside Li’s G-wagon. Defense attorneys say Green’s cellphone was inside Adella’s car as he followed Li away from the pancake house. Adella’s car was recorded on surveillance video cameras closely following behind the G-wagon as it drove away from the pancake house.
May 5, 2016: Adella sells his Chrysler to a San Jose car dealership. Prosecutors said Adella wanted to get rid of the car because he used it to transport Green’s body over the Golden Gate Bridge to Sonoma County, where he hid the body in a field.
May 9, 2016 – Li and Bayat attend the wedding of Adella and Bredenstein and serve as witnesses at the small City Hall ceremony.
May 11, 2016 – Green’s body was found in a remote field in Sonoma County. A gunshot wound and chipped tooth indicated that the killer had forced a gun into Green’s mouth before pulling the trigger.
May 13, 2016: Richard Serrano bought the Chrysler from the dealership and noticed a strong odor of bleach and Windex.
May 17, 2016: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Sgt. John Carroll showed up on the doorstep of Li’s gated mansion and informed her that the body had been definitively identified as Green. According to Carroll’s testimony, Li’s face was void of any emotions and she did not appear to be upset. Li never asked how Green died, nor worried about how she was going to tell her children that their father was no longer alive, Carroll said.
May 18, 2016: Deputies bought the Chrysler from Serrano because they needed to seize it as evidence. Blood was found in the trunk.
May 20, 2016: Adella is arrested. Detectives search his apartment and find lunch boxes containing Green’s diamond watch, as well as thousands of dollars in cash.
May 21, 2016: A SWAT team surrounds Li’s mansion. Li and Bayat are arrested on suspicion of murder.
April 6, 2017: Li posts $35 million bail — one of the largest bails ever posted in U.S. history, and the highest ever posted in San Mateo County’s history. Her jail release conditions include: She must wear an electronic ankle bracelet, submit to house arrest, surrender all passports, stay at least 100 yards away from any airport. Bayat remains behind bars.
February 2018: Adella makes a plea deal with the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office and, according to investigators, admits he was paid thousands of dollars to get rid of Green’s body. He agrees to testify against Li and Bayat.
July – Sept. 2018: Li is diagnosed with breast cancer and the diagnosis delays the trial’s state date.
September 12, 2019: The Li and Bayat murder trial is scheduled to begin, but an unexpected twist happens when the star witness, Adella, uses Instagram to contact a defense witness who is his ex-girlfriend, according to investigators. Adella is thrown out as a witness, his plea deal is thrown out the window, and he is re-booked into jail with no bail.
September 23, 2019: Li and Bayat’s murder trial begins.
October 22 and 23, 2019: Closing arguments are delivered by prosecutors and defense teams for Li and Bayat.
October 28, 2019: Jury begins deliberations to decide if Li and Bayat are guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder.
November 15, 2019: Tiffany Li is found not guilty on all charges. Jurors split 6-6 over Bayat’s guilt, and the judge declared a mistrial.
Dec. 12, 2019: Prosecutors announce no murder charges will be filed against Adella. He has already served enough time in jail to be set free for the felony he pleaded no contest to. (dumping Green’s body in a Sonoma County field.)
Dec. 19, 2019: A hearing is set for Bayat. Prosecutors are expected to announce if they will put him on trial for a second time.
Jan. 10, 2020: Adella is expected to be released from jail.
MORE STORIES ON THE TRIAL:
- Man who dumped Keith Green’s body released from jail, taken by federal agents
- Tiffany Li trial juror: ‘Two murderers are free today’
- Kaveh Bayat walks free after all charges dropped in death of Keith Green
- Man who dumped Keith Green’s body to be released from jail
- Decision delayed for what’s next in Keith Green murder case