Supreme Court Won't Rule in Slaying of Legendary Raiders' Daughter

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Former Raiders great Fred Biletnikoff seen here during his playing days.

    The U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene in a lower court  decision requiring a new trial for a man accused of murdering the daughter of  an Oakland Raiders football player in 1999.

    The high court action means that San Mateo County prosecutors must  either release Mohammed Haroon Ali, 34, or retry him for the strangulation  murder of Tracey Biletnikoff, 20.

    Biletnikoff was the daughter of former Oakland Raiders wide  receiver and Pro Football Hall of Fame member Fred Biletnikoff.

    Chief Deputy San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen Wagstaffe  said today that prosecutors will go ahead with a retrial.

    "The evidence against him was strong then and it is strong now,"  he said.

    In his first trial, Ali was found guilty in San Mateo County  Superior Court in 2001 of first-degree murder and sentenced to 55 years to  life in prison.

    Ali met Biletnikoff through a San Mateo County drug treatment  program where they were both working as counselors after having recovered  from drug addictions.

    Biletnikoff's body was found on Feb. 15, 1999, on the campus of  Canada College near Redwood City. Ali was arrested the next day in San Diego.

     He admitted to strangling her during an argument over his relapse  into alcohol and drug use, but contended the crime should be considered  manslaughter rather than murder.

    Last year, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco  overturned the conviction, saying that prosecutors had dismissed at least one  and possibly two black jury candidates from the jury pool for improper  reasons of racial discrimination.

    In Monday's order, the Supreme Court turned down state prosecutors'  appeal of that ruling. 
         
    Ali, who came to the United States from Fiji as a teenager,  contended he acted in the heat of passion during the argument with  Biletnikoff because he feared being deported to Fiji as a result of the  relapse. A heat-of-passion finding would make the crime manslaughter rather  than murder.
         
    His lawyer in the appeal, A.J. Kutchins, was not immediately  available for comment.