(NewsNation) — The defense lawyer for the man accused of killing Cash App founder Bob Lee says her client is not guilty of murder, pointing to what she says is insufficient evidence presented by prosecutors.
“Based on the information I have, I don’t think he is guilty of the crime of murder,” Paula Canny said of her client, Nima Momeni. Canny spoke to NewsNation on Wednesday in an exclusive prime-time interview.
Momeni is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Lee, who succumbed to stab wounds suffered in the early morning hours of April 4. Police and prosecutors allege Momeni knew Lee and planned the attack.
During his first court appearance, prosecutors said Momeni and Lee had an argument the night of Lee’s death over Momeni’s younger sister. A witness who overheard the conversation said Momeni wanted to know if Lee had done anything “inappropriate” with Momeni’s sister, according to court documents filed by prosecutors.
The tense verbal confrontation happened inside Lee’s hotel room at 1 Hotel San Francisco, the witness said. Momeni “was questioning (Lee) regarding whether his sister was doing drugs or anything inappropriate. (Lee) had to reassure (Momeni) nothing inappropriate happened,” prosecutors wrote.
Momeni and Lee were then seen on surveillance footage leaving the hotel and driving off in Momeni’s BMW, prosecutors allege.
Police found an additional camera that shows the BMW stopping and two men stepping out of the car. The camera is too far away to distinguish the men’s faces, prosecutors said. The men talk for about five minutes before one makes a sudden movement toward the other. The men separate, and moments later, another camera recorded Lee when he is injured and walking on the street.
“The video that that I’ve seen doesn’t depict what (prosecutors) are saying,” Canny said of the evidence. “Nobody would draw that as a reasonable conclusion from the video that I saw.”
She suggested the argument between Momeni and Lee wasn’t as explosive as prosecutors are making it out to be.
“The evidence that I have in terms of the interactions isn’t quite of that ilk, though part of it is right. I mean, who would like to see their their sister, who they’re super protective of, potentially be drugged? Nobody,” she said. “Nobody would like that of their sister, so my client’s reaction to finding out that his sister had suffered a trauma isn’t unique to him. Any good brother would be upset about it.”
Prosecutors used the video and testimony from a friend in a filing seeking to keep Momeni detained without bail. His is scheduled to be arraigned and enter a plea next week.
His arraignment was delayed after his attorneys argued the state hasn’t turned over all the evidence it has.
San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said her office has shared all evidence, except for an autopsy report that can take the medical examiner up to 60 days to complete. She said prosecutors will continue to argue Momeni needs to remain in custody because he is a flight risk and poses a danger to society.
“Somebody that we believe committed murder is an extreme threat to the public safety. In this situation, we have an individual who stabbed Mr. Lee multiple times, including in his heart. That is about as dangerous as it gets,” Jenkins said.
Under California law, first-degree murder charges requires prosecutors to show premeditation and a “malice aforethought.”
“Based on what I know, Nima Momeni never had any of the intent that’s requisite for first-degree murder,” Canny said, “and even as to the events itself, what I know, it doesn’t comport with the prosecution’s presentation.”
NewsNation affiliate KRON-TV and The Associated Press contributed to this report.