September 1, 2014
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - An appeals court has ordered a new trial for a man convicted of murdering the daughter of former NFL star Fred Biletnikoff.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals made the ruling Tuesday, citing racial discrimination in the trial of Mohammed Haroon Ali.
Ali admitted to strangling his girlfriend, 20-year-old Tracey Biletnikoff, in 1999.
The court says San Mateo County prosecutor Steve Wagstaffe was
improperly motivated by race when he dismissed the only two black
potential jurors from the jury. Jurors went on to convict Ali of first-degree murder rather than the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Ali is currently serving a 55 years-to-life sentence.
Wagstaffe denied race was a factor in jury selection. He says
prosecutors are considering whether to appeal the ruling.