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 dying of Money App founder Bob Lee on the streets of San Francisco.

San Francisco Superior Courtroom Choose Victor Hwang ordered Momeni, 38, stored in jail with out bail, saying his launch posed a public security danger. Momeni, who appeared in an orange sweatshirt and pants, didn’t converse, 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 places of work and condominiums however little exercise within the early morning hours.

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

Prosecutors haven’t offered 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 Legal professional 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 singular kitchen set belonging to his sister. Police recovered a knife with a 4-inch blade on the scene.

Talai mentioned 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 consumer.

However Canny mentioned that Momeni didn’t drive Lee to a secluded spot with the goal of killing him. As a substitute, she mentioned, 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 mentioned, Lee was standing upright and strolling away.

“Folks can have a struggle and never know that anyone’s been mortally wounded,” she mentioned in court docket, later including, “Each one in every of us, together with my consumer, is heartbroken that Bob Lee died.”

Canny mentioned Momeni has sturdy ties to the neighborhood and wishes to remain and struggle the costs or else face deportation to Iran, which might separate him from the 2 folks he loves most, his mom and sister. Momeni isn’t a U.S. citizen.

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

San Francisco’s District Legal professional Brooke Jenkins rejected that concept in talking to reporters after the arraignment. “We imagine that we’ve got the assassin of Mr. Lee, and that’s Mr. Momeni,” she mentioned.

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

An unnamed pal of Lee advised murder investigators that they had been hanging out and consuming with Momeni’s sister the day earlier than the stabbing, prosecutors mentioned in a movement to detain Momeni with out bail.

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

The pal 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 distinguished 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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