Nima Momeni pleads not guilty to Bob Lee murder stabbing

Tech marketing consultant Nima Momeni pleaded not responsible Thursday to a homicide cost within the stabbing loss of life of Money App founder Bob Lee on the streets of San Francisco.

San Francisco Superior Court docket Decide Victor Hwang ordered Momeni, 38, stored in jail with out bail, saying his launch posed a public security threat. Momeni, who appeared in an orange sweatshirt and pants, didn’t communicate, and his lawyer Paula Canny entered the plea on his behalf.

The case has drawn nationwide consideration, partly given Lee’s standing within the tech world. Lee was discovered with three stab wounds, together with one to the center, shortly after 2:30 a.m. April 4 and was taken to a hospital, the place he later died. He was discovered within the Rincon Hill neighborhood in downtown San Francisco, which has tech workplaces and condominiums however little exercise within the early morning hours.

Lee, 43, created Money App, a cell fee service, and was the chief product officer of the cryptocurrency MobileCoin. He was mourned as a loving father of two who made mates wherever he went.

Prosecutors haven’t supplied a motive however say Momeni stabbed Lee after a dispute associated to Momeni’s sister, Khazar Elyassnia. She appeared in court docket Thursday alongside Momeni’s mom.

Assistant District Lawyer Omid Talai argued Thursday to detain Momeni with out bail, saying that the defendant drove Lee to a secluded spot and used a knife that was a part of a novel kitchen set belonging to his sister. Police recovered a knife with a 4-inch blade on the scene.

Talai stated that evaluation confirmed Momeni’s DNA on the deal with of the knife and Lee’s DNA on the bloody blade and no proof that Lee had touched the deal with, contradicting Canny’s declare of self-defense for her shopper.

However Canny stated that Momeni didn’t drive Lee to a secluded spot with the goal of killing him. As a substitute, she stated, Lee directed him to tug over after calling an Uber as a result of the 2 had argued. The final time Momeni noticed Lee, Canny stated, Lee was standing upright and strolling away.

“Folks can have a battle and never know that someone’s been mortally wounded,” she stated in court docket, later including, “Each certainly one of us, together with my shopper, is heartbroken that Bob Lee died.”

Canny stated Momeni has sturdy ties to the neighborhood and desires to remain and battle the fees or else face deportation to Iran, which might separate him from the 2 folks he loves most, his mom and sister. Momeni will not be a U.S. citizen.

Exterior the courtroom, she described the encounter as “a cross between self-defense and accident. There was no premeditation deliberation.”

San Francisco’s District Lawyer Brooke Jenkins rejected that concept in talking to reporters after the arraignment. “We consider that we have now the assassin of Mr. Lee, and that’s Mr. Momeni,” she stated.

Momeni was arrested final month at his dwelling in Emeryville, which is throughout the bay from San Francisco.

An unnamed buddy of Lee advised murder investigators they’d been hanging out and ingesting with Momeni’s sister the day earlier than the stabbing, prosecutors stated in a movement to detain Momeni with out bail.

The buddy stated Momeni later questioned Lee about whether or not his sister was doing medicine or in any other case partaking in inappropriate habits and Lee stated she had not.

The buddy and Lee later parted methods, and surveillance video confirmed Lee coming into the luxury Millennium Tower downtown, the place Elyassnia lives together with her husband, a outstanding plastic surgeon. Video footage then confirmed Lee and Momeni leaving the constructing collectively shortly after 2 a.m. and driving off in Momeni’s automotive.

Momeni faces 26 years to life if convicted.

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