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Bob Lee’s accused killer pleads not guilty, judge denies bail

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Nima Momeni, the accused killer of Cash App founder Bob Lee, pleaded not guilty in a San Francisco courtroom Thursday morning. A judge denied granting bail to keep the accused killer behind bars as he awaits a preliminary hearing.

Momeni, 38, is accused of stabbing Lee to death on April 4 in a well-to-do enclave of San Francisco near the Bay Bridge. He was arrested eight days later at his Emeryville loft, and charged with murder.

Bob Lee
Homicide victim Bob Lee

Hours before Lee’s death, the wealthy tech executive had been socializing and drinking with Momeni’s younger sister, Khazar Elyassnia, prosecutors said. A witness saw Momeni confront Lee to find out is he was doing drugs or anything “inappropriate” with his sister, court documents state. Momeni’s friends reportedly said he was very protective of his sister.

Defense attorney Paula Canny said her client is not a murderer. She says that fact that her client didn’t try to flee before his arrest shows he is innocent. Momeni has no previous convictions for violent crime. In court, prosecutors successfully argued that Momeni should remain in jail.

Khazar Elyassnia, center, arrives for the arraignment of Nima Momeni, her brother, at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco, Thursday, May 18, 2023. (AP Photo /Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Lee, 43, was an admired and successful figure in the Bay Area tech industry. He was a divorced father of two, chief product officer of cryptocurrency company MobileCoin, and the former CTO of Square. San Francisco Police Department homicide detectives unlocked Lee’s cellphone and found a text message sent from Elyassnia.

Elyassnia’s text message said, “Just wanted to make sure your doing ok. Cause I know nima came wayyyyyy down hard on you. And thank you for being such a classy man handling it with class. Love you Selfish pricks,” according to court documents.

Momeni’s suspicions about illicit drug use were not unfounded.

The city’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner released Lee’s toxicology and autopsy report to KRON4. It revealed that he had multiple “party drugs” in his system, including cocaine, ketamine and norketamine, also known as “Special K.”

A witness spent hours hanging out with Lee and Elyassnia in luxury hotel rooms and apartments leading up to the homicide. The witness “was unsure if (Lee) and (Elyassnia) had an intimate relationship. (Elyassnia) was married but the relationship had possibly been in jeopardy,” court documents state.

Nima Momeni walks into a courtroom on May 2, 2023. (Gabrielle Lurie/San Francisco Chronicle via AP, Pool)

The last time the witness saw Lee alive was when the Cash App founder left his apartment on April 4 at 12:30 a.m. to walk to Elyassnia’s apartment in Millennium Tower on Mission Street. The tower’s security cameras recorded Lee and Momeni leaving the tower together at 2:03 a.m. The Cash App founder called 911 at 2:36 a.m. reporting that someone stabbed him, according to his autopsy report.

Krista Lee, ex-wife of tech entrepreneur Bob Lee, enters a courtroom in San Francisco on April 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Jenkins said the alleged murder weapon, a large kitchen knife, had been taken from Elyassnia’s apartment before it was found by police at the crime scene. Prosecutors said DNA from blood on the blade matched Lee, and DNA from the handle matched Momeni.

Krista Lee was in the courtroom Thursday when her ex-husband’s suspected killer pleaded not guilty. Bob Lee’s ex-wife and teenaged daughters plan to attend all of Momeni’s court appearances as they wait for justice, the district attorney said.

Khazar Elyassnia, center, arrives for the arraignment of Nima Momeni, her brother, at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco, Thursday, May 18, 2023. (AP Photo /Godofredo A. Vásquez)

Elyssania and her husband, a prominent plastic surgeon, supported her brother during his April 14 court appearance by making “heart hands” in the courtroom. Elyssania returned to the courtroom gallery on Thursday, once again wearing dark sunglasses indoors.

Canny previously told News Nation, “There is a huge backstory to this. More will be revealed later. Who would like to see their sister, who they are super protective of, potentially be drugged? Nobody. Any good brother would be upset about it.”

Defense attorney Paula Canny speaks with reporters at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco, Thursday, May 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Godofredo A. Vásquez)
San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins, right, speaks at a news conference after Nima Momeni pleaded not guilty on Thursday, May 18, 2023. (AP Photo / Godofredo A. Vásquez)
Khazar Elyassnia arrives for the arraignment of her brother Nima Momeni on May 18, 2023 in San Francisco. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Nima Momeni’s mother, left, and sister, center, supported him in the courtroom gallery on May 18, 2023. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Khazar Elyassnia (L) leaves the arraignment of her brother Nima Momeni on May 18, 2023. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said, “Regardless of whether somebody has, or has not done drugs, that does not give someone a license to kill them.” Jenkins said a tactic often used by defense attorneys is to smear a homicide victim’s character.

Momeni is the sole suspect in the Bob Lee murder case.

Canny said Momeni was with Lee the night he died. But Lee’s death was not a premeditated murder, she added. The incident was “a cross between self-defense and accident. There was no premeditation, deliberation, absolutely not,” Canny told reporters Thursday.


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