General Crime

* Closing Arguments for Mohammed Haroon Ali, Accused Killer of Tracey Biletnikoff

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Closing arguments are set to begin Monday in the retrial of a man accused of strangling the daughter of former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff in 1999. Mohammed Haroon Ali, 36, was convicted in 2001 of the Feb. 15,  1999 murder of Tracey Biletnikoff, his girlfriend at the time, in San Mateo.

He was sentenced to 64 years to life in prison. However, in 2009 an appellate court overturned the conviction, stating that prosecutors had improperly dismissed at least one black juror, thus requiring a retrial. If convicted of first degree murder, Ali faces life in prison.

Defense attorney Peter Goldscheider is arguing that he killed Biletnikoff in an unplanned crime of passion, during an argument, and should therefore receive a lesser sentence. Ali and Biletnikoff were both recovering drug addicts who met through drug treatment programs in San Mateo. Ali testified that they quarreled after Ali learned that a former girlfriend was pregnant with his child, and then relapsed, going on an alcohol and drug binge. When Biletnikoff learned of the relapse, she became angry, Ali testified. She insisted that he restart the Project 90 treatment program, which would probably mean losing his counseling job, and possibly submit a “dirty” drug test at a meeting with his probation officer the next day.

When Biletnikoff called him a “loser,” and blocked his way out of the office at Friendship Hall, a meeting place for recovering addicts where they were arguing, he testified, he grabbed her by the neck. After he realized Biletnikoff was dead, Ali testified, he tied a black t-shirt around her neck and choked her with it again, in an effort to make it look like a sexual attack.  He then put her body in the front seat of a Project 90 van and drove her to a parking lot at Canada Colelge, where he pulled her pants off and dumped her down a ravine, he said. Ali was eventually arrested trying to drive back from Mexico in Biletnikoff’s car on Feb. 16. Closing arguments are set to being at 9:15 a.m. Monday in Dept. 22 of San Mateo County Superior Court.

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