The suspected hitman who stands accused of pulling the trigger on Oakland dentist Lili Xu pleaded not guilty Wednesday, but prosecutors appear to be seeking a life sentence with no parole for the 33-year-old alleged killer Hasheem Bason.
The August, broad-daylight shooting of 60-year-old dentist Lili Xu in Oakland’s Little Saigon neighborhood initially had mourners at her vigil and much of the community suspecting it was a case of race-based violence. But the investigation into Xu’s murder took a very odd turn when two men were arrested for her killing in late October, and one of them was Xu’s longtime boyfriend, 73-year-old Nelson Chia, who was actually in the car with Xu when she was shot. As Oakland police were unspooling the plot as a suspected murder-for-hire, Chia took his own life in jail on October 28.
But the alleged hitman in the case, 33-year-old Hasheem Bason of Stockton, also remains in custody at Santa Rita Jail. But KPIX reports Bason pleaded not guilty to Xu’s murder on Tuesday. The Bay Area News Group adds that Bason stands accused of “murdering Xu for financial gain, along with a special circumstances allegation of lying in wait” and that Bason will be “eligible for a sentence of life without the possibility of parole if he’s convicted.”
The News Group has the additional detail that Chia had taken control of Xu’s assets, and her estate was worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $12-$14 million. “Further communications after the murder between Chia and Bason demonstrate that Chia conspired with Bason to murder Xu for financial gain,” Oakland police Detective Yun Zhou wrote in court records revealed last month. “Chia agreed to provide Bason with a significant amount of money for murdering Xu. Chia and Bason planned the day, time and place of the murder. Bason acquired a vehicle, recruited a driver, and waited to ambush Xu a block from the location of the appointment. Chia drove Xu to the agreed upon location.”
And there may be yet another suspect in this case. The Bay Area News Groups also adds that “It is unknown if police have identified the driver, and no one has been charged yet with playing that role in the homicide.”
KGO did some additional digging and found that Chia and his alleged gunman Bason had met at Davie Tennis Stadium in Oakland, where Bason had apparently been an employee. The two played tennis frequently, despite the age difference, and Chia apparently had a taste for the more expensive things in life. “They were around each other a lot. They’d arrive together in Nelson’s cars,” another frequent player at the court, Thomas Cooney, told KGO. “He had a convertible Porsche, a Bentley, he had a BMW. He would arrive with Nelson, leave with Nelson, have lunch with Nelson, that sort of thing.”
Related: Boyfriend and Murder Suspect of Oakland Dentist Lili Xu Kills Himself in Jail [SFist]
Image: @oaklandpoliceca via Twitter