Tiffany Li, the Hillsborough real-estate heiress charged with murdering her ex-boyfriend in a 2016 child-custody dispute, was released from jail Thursday after posting an “unprecedented” $35 million in bail.
Her bail was approved Thursday morning by Judge Donald Ayoob, and includes conditions agreed upon by prosecutors and her defense attorneys that restrict her movement and effectively put her under house arrest.
The eye-popping amount aside, supporters of slaying victim Keith Green — Li’s ex-boyfriend with whom she has two children — were flummoxed that she was granted bail in the first place. That includes close friend Angela Dunn, who voiced to ABC7 her disappointment and shock over how Li was able to buy her freedom while the trial proceeds.
“Nothing about this seems right,” said Dunn, who added Green stayed at her house for six months after he and Li separated. “It’s very difficult for all of us, especially Keith’s mom.”
But attorney Geoff Carr, who is representing Li, defended his client’s constitutional right to “reasonable bail” given that she’s not facing a capital charge.
Li must also surrender all her passports and passport cards to local law enforcement, be under electronic home monitoring at all times, not be in possession of any passport for her children, and remain at least 100 yards from any airport. She must also abide by an existing no-contact order involving her children.
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe described the $35 million bail as “unprecedented” for San Mateo County, and reiterated his office’s concern that Li is a flight risk to her native China.
“We are still concerned about flight,” Wagstaffe said. “We hope we’re wrong. We hope that on July 17 (pretrial conference date) Ms. Li walks in the door, and we hope she’s there for the jury trial Sept. 18.”
Carr responded by saying that any flight-risk worries are mitigated by the high bail amount.
“That number reflects the constitutional requirement,” he said. “That’s the purpose of bail.”
To which Wagstaffe countered, “$35 million to her and her family isn’t much different from $3,500 for you and me. They are very wealthy.”
Li is a naturalized U.S. citizen along with her mother, Carr said, and that the resources put up for Li’s bail are sourced in the Bay Area. Her family is reportedly submitting $4 million cash, and between 15 and 20 family members, friends and business associates compiled an asset portfolio that accounted for the rest of the $31 million.
But the actual value of Li’s bail is $66 million, due to a requirement that any equity proffered for bail must be double the cash equivalent. So Li’s supporters had to submit $62 million worth of property to satisfy the $31 million non-cash remainder.
If Li fails to show for any of her court appearances, the court will forfeit the cash bail and the property will be subject to forfeiture by the county. The cash and equity will be returned if Li makes all her court appearances.
Carr said the extraordinary amount of money and assets put at risk is a testament to her family and friends’ belief in Li’s innocence.
“It says two things. One, that her family, friends and business partners believe she’ll come to court, and two, that they believe she’s not guilty,” Carr said.
Wagstaffe said the difference between Li and co-defendants Olivier Adella, 41, and Kaveh Bayat, 30, both of whom are being held in jail without bail, is simply a matter of means. He said the two men did not even request bail motions because there was little point.
“She’s got wealth, they don’t,” he said.
Li had been in custody since May 2016 when SWAT officers arrested her at her Hillsborough mansion, where a fleet of luxury cars often sat in the driveway, including a Rolls-Royce, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari. Prosecutors allege Li killed Green over fears she was going to lose a custody battle over their two young daughters.
Li, Adella and Bayat have all been charged with murder, conspiracy and a gun enhancement in the killing of Green, who was found shot to death May 11, 2016 in a wooded area near Healdsburg in Sonoma County.
Prosecutors contend the trio murdered Green on April 28, 2016, after Li and Green met for an hour in the parking lot of the Millbrae Pancake House to discuss their daughters’ custody. Green was reported missing the following day, when he did not return home, authorities said. A hiker later found Green’s cellphone at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.