A man on trial for strangling the daughter of a Hall of Fame football player in 1999 took the stand in his own defense Wednesday in San Mateo County Superior Court.
Throughout emotional testimony that spanned several hours, Mohammed Haroon Ali, 36, covered his face and sobbed as he described the circumstances that led up to a fight in which he choked his girlfriend Tracey Biletnikoff to death on February 15, 1999.
Ali and Biletnikoff -- the daughter of former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff -- were both recovering drug addicts and enrolled in drug rehab programs in San Mateo.
Ali testified that days before he fought with Biletnikoff, he heard that a former girlfriend was on the verge of giving birth to a child that he had fathered.
He said he called the woman in an attempt to reenter her life and share part of the responsibility of raising the child, but she rejected the overture and hung up.
The episode prompted him to relapse, Ali said. He and a friend went on a drinking binge in San Francisco, and ultimately drove back to San Mateo and bought drugs.
Ali testified that when he confessed to Biletnikoff that he relapsed, she got angry and told him he was going to have to start the Project 90 substance abuse program from the beginning.
The couple drove around San Mateo arguing, Ali said. They eventually ended up in an office at "Friendship Hall," a meeting place for recovering addicts, and continued to argue.
Ali said that during the fight he told Biletnikoff about his pregnant ex-girlfriend, prompting her to hit him.
Biletnikoff blocked the doorway, and Ali said he grabbed her shoulders to try to get her to move.
Judge Barbara Mallach called a second recess for the defendant to compose himself after his testimony became inaudible.
When Ali continued, he said he couldn't believe what he did when he saw Tracey on the ground with "big eyes" and white fluid coming out of her mouth.
Cross-examination is scheduled to continue Thursday.
Bay City News