A man was convicted of first-degree murder Thursday after his second trial for killing the daughter of former Oakland Raiders star Fred Biletnikoff in 1999.
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Prosecutors said Mohammed Haroon Ali, 36, strangled Tracey Biletnikoff, then his girlfriend, at a drug and alcohol treatment center during a fight over whether Ali had relapsed.
Ali acknowledged strangling the 20-year-old woman with his hands and a T-shirt, but said he didn’t intend to.
Defense attorney Peter Goldscheider had argued for an involuntary manslaughter conviction instead of murder, saying the killing was done in a fury of emotions.
Biletnikoff’s partially naked body was found in a wooded ravine in Redwood City.
Ali testified during the trial that he pulled off her pants to make it look like a sex crime and throw off investigators.
”It’s a terrible tragedy, but it’s not like he planned it out or had an evil intent or desire to harm her,” Goldscheider said outside court. ”It was in a moment of emotion, and that’s the tragedy of it.”
Prosecutor Steve Wagstaffe pointed to Ali’s history of violence, including a conviction for kidnapping and threatening to kill his former fiancee after she called off their wedding. But his nine-year sentence in that case was suspended, and he was placed on probation with an order to complete drug treatment.
”This is just a fellow who doesn’t take no for an answer from women,” Wagstaffe said.
Ali previously was convicted of murder in the death of Biletnikoff, but the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that verdict in 2009, ruling that prosecutors improperly dismissed the jury pool’s only two black members because of their race.
Ali could face life in prison when he’s sentenced on June 14.
The reading of Thursday’s verdict was attended by Fred Biletnikoff and his family, who said they were satisfied with the outcome despite the difficulty of going through a second murder trial.
”Tracey’s not coming back,” said the NFL Hall of Famer, who played with the Raiders from 1965 to 1978. ”But he’s prevented from being out in society and doing this to somebody else’s daughter.”
Information from: San Mateo County Times, http://www.sanmateotimes.com