REDWOOD CITY, Calif. >> A California woman accused of killing the father of her two children was released from jail today after posting an unprecedented $35 million bail raised by friends, family and business associates with ties to China.
Tiffany Li, wearing a baseball cap pulled low over eyes and a hood wrapped tightly around her head, declined to answer questions shouted by reporters as a bodyguard ushered her out of jail and into an SUV.
Li, 31, is backed by a group that raised $4 million in cash and pledged the remainder in San Francisco Bay Area property worth $62 million. California courts require twice the bail amount if property is used instead of cash. She is required to turn over her passports, wear an electronic monitor and remain under house arrest.
Li and her mother were born in China, where the mother was financially successful in the construction industry, said Li’s attorney, Geoff Carr. Li and her mother are naturalized U.S. citizens, Carr said.
Carr said all defendants except those accused of death penalty-eligible crimes are entitled to “reasonable bail.” The $35 million bail his client faced is the highest ever in San Mateo County’s history, a county official said.
Li has pleaded not guilty to charges she directed her boyfriend and another man to kill Keith Green, 27, and dispose of his body last year. Prosecutors say she feared losing custody of her young children to Green.
A friend of Green’s said that she was disappointed and shocked that Li was able to pay for her freedom pending her murder trial in September.
“Nothing about this seems right,” said Angela Dunn, adding that Green stayed at her house for six months after he and Li split up. “It’s very difficult for all of us, especially Keith’s mom.”
San Mateo District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said he’s concerned Li is a flight risk and is disappointed the judge didn’t set the bail even higher. His office asked for it to be $100 million.
“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.”
Green’s body was found May 11 in Sonoma County, about 80 miles (128 kilometers) north of where he was supposed to meet Li.
Li was arrested several days later in the multimillion-dollar home she shared with her children in Hillsborough, a suburb of mansions and large houses 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of San Francisco.
The two men also were arrested in May and were jailed without bail. Their lawyers didn’t ask for bail because they don’t have the resources to post a multimillion-dollar bond like Li did, her attorney said.
Carr says the people who posted Li’s bail believe she is innocent and will not flee. If she does go on the lam, the court can confiscate the property and cash.