Opening arguments kicked off Monday in the San Francisco Bay Area trial of a real estate heiress who posted $35 million bail after being charged with murdering her children's father.
Prosecutors told a packed courtroom in Redwood City that Tiffany Li conspired with her boyfriend Kaveh Bayat to kill 27-year-old Keith Green over fears she would lose custody of their two young daughters.
They say they plan to show jurors evidence that Green was lured to a meeting with Li and was shot by Bayat in the garage of her San Francisco Bay Area mansion in 2016. They said the pair paid a friend named Olivier Adella $35,000 to dump Green's body and took steps to cover up their crimes.
The defense argued that Green was killed by Adella as a result of a foiled kidnap plan and asserted that investigators overlooked certain evidence in an attempt to pin the crime on Li and Bayat.
Li's attorneys in their opening statement also attacked the prosecution's case saying, among other things, investigators made up their minds early on that Li was behind the killing and only looked for forensic evidence that supported that theory.
"They got blinders on," said Geoff Carr, Li's attorney. "They believe what they want to believe, and that's what this case is about."
Li maintained her usual low-key demeanor at the San Mate courthouse on Monday.
NBC Bay Area leal analyst Dean Johnson said jurors seemed impressed.
"Some jurors were very attentive as the defense started going into its case," Johnson said. "Other jurors I think had decided that the prosecution was right, but as they see the defense argument unfolding they're thinking 'maybe there's some doubt here.'"
Li's family made a fortune in real estate construction in China and she posted an astonishing $35 million bail that has allowed her to stay in her home pending trial.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.