A California murder suspect is in the process of being released from jail after posting bail set at more than US$60 million in cash and property.
Tiffany Li, 31, is expected to post $4 million in cash and another $62 million in equity and San Francisco area property with the help of her wealthy mother and friends.
Li is accused of working with her current boyfriend and another man to kill her ex-boyfriend — the father of her two daughters.
A San Mateo County judge set Li’s bail at an unprecedented $35 million based on the affluence of her family, making it one of the most expensive in U.S. history.
But that jumped to $66 million, as California courts require twice the bail amount if property is used instead of cash.
According to reports, Li’s mother owns a successful construction business in China.
“From the beginning of the case the investigation by the sheriff’s office has provided to us that she comes from a family that has many many hundreds of millions of dollars available to them,” San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told KPIX.
Both Li and her mother were born in China but are naturalized American citizens.
Prosecutors had asked for bail of $100 million over concerns that Li could flee to China if released from custody.
“If convicted she faces the rest of her life in prison,” Wagstaffe said. “That’s plenty enough incentive to flee back to her native China.”
Li will have to surrender her passports and remain under house arrest and electronic home monitoring if released.
Li was arrested at her Hillsborough mansion, one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in the U.S., after the body of her ex-boyfriend, Keith Green, was located in some woods 128 kilometres north of her home.
“We certainly know that there was a great deal of animus between her and Keith Green our victim, over the children,” Wagstaffe said. “And we believe that was one of the pieces at the core of what led to the end of the life of Keith Green.”
Li’s attorney said she had reached a child custody settlement with Green just days before his death.
Li’s boyfriend, Kaveh Bayat, and a second man, Olivier Adella, were also arrested and charged in the death. A jury trial for all three has been set for September.
Despite the high price tag put on Li’s freedom, it’s not nearly the largest bail amount set by a U.S. judge.
In 2003, New York real estate heir Robert Durst faced a $3-billion bail amount on evidence tampering and bond-jumping charges following his acquittal in a murder case.
Lawyers called the amount “ridiculous” and a judge later found “no conceivable justification” in it being set that high, ultimately lowering it to $450,000.
And in February, a Texas judge slapped an accused murderer with a $4-billion bail. The decision was part of a statement the judge was making, protesting that too many suspects remain in jail until their trial due to unreasonably high bond amounts.
The judge later lowered the bail to $150,000.