Court won’t stop new trial in Biletnikoff death

  • Mon Mar 29th, 2010 8:23am
  • News

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court won’t stop a man convicted of murdering the daughter of former NFL star Fred Biletnikoff from getting a new trial.

The high court today refused to hear an appeal from California prosecutors, who had their conviction of Mohammed Haroon Ali thrown out by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ali admitted strangling Tracey Biletnikoff, 20, on Feb. 15, 1999. He demonstrated for police in a videotaped interview how he did it — first with his hands and then with a T-shirt.

But the federal appellate court said prosecutors were improperly motivated by race when they dismissed the only two black potential jurors from the jury. Prosecutors have denied race was a factor in jury selection.

Jurors convicted Ali of first-degree murder rather than the lesser charge of manslaughter.

Tracey Biletnikoff met Ali in 1997 at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. They began dating a year later.

Ali had a history of violence, including a conviction for kidnapping and threatening to kill his former fiance after she called off their wedding. But his nine-year sentence was suspended, and he was placed on probation with an order to complete drug treatment.

Ali is currently serving a sentence of 55 years to life.

Fred Biletnikoff played for the Oakland Raiders for 14 years and is a member of the NFL Hall of Fame.

The case is Cate v. Ali, 09-894.