Click photo to enlarge
Tracey Biletnikoff and Mohammed Haroon Ali

As he sat in a San Diego police questioning room just days after allegedly strangling to death his girlfriend -- the daughter of former Raiders star Fred Biletnikoff -- Mohammed Haroon Ali described to detectives each step of her final moments.

The videotaped explanation, shown Tuesday to jurors in his murder retrial, peaked as the young man's head sagged and he admitted choking Tracey Biletnikoff, 20, during an argument at a San Mateo drug treatment center more than a decade ago.

"I don't know what happened at that point. She was hitting me. I didn't stop," Ali said toward the end of the roughly two-hour interrogation. Biletnikoff's lifeless body was found Feb. 16, 1999, naked from the waist down, on a wooded embankment at Cañada College in Redwood City.

Ali, who was interrogated in San Diego after being caught at the U.S.-Mexico border, appeared to tear up as he watched the Feb. 18, 1999, tape in San Mateo County Superior Court. His attorney, Peter Goldscheider, says the killing is voluntary manslaughter that came during a fight over his client's admission of relapsing into drug and alcohol use. A manslaughter conviction carries a maximum penalty of 11 years behind bars.

Ali, 36, was already found guilty for Biletnikoff's murder once and sentenced to life in prison. But he won a second trial after an appeals court overturned his conviction in July 2009, saying that San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe dismissed the only two black people in the jury pool because of their race.


Advertisement

The confession tape also retraces the steps Ali took to cover up the killing, prosecutors said. Ali used a van from drug treatment program Project 90 to cart away and dump Biletnikoff's body. He had risen through the program's ranks to become a trusted staff member who had the keys to an organization vehicle. In his confession, Ali said he strapped Biletnikoff in the front passenger seat.

After buying $5 in gas at a Arco filling station he got onto the Highway 92 and ended up on Interstate 280, headed south. He took the exit to Cañada College, where Biletnikoff's body was discovered the next day without pants.

He told San Mateo County Sheriff's Office detectives, who'd flown to San Diego to question him, that he stripped off her jeans in order to find the keys to her car. Ali claimed she had stashed the keys in her pants in order to keep them from him as they fought. Prosecutors say it was an attempt to confuse investigators, by making the crime look like it was a sexual assault.