Cash App founder Bob Lee murder suspect pleads not guilty

Nima Momeni entered a not guilty plea in court on ThursdayGetty Images

The tech entrepreneur suspected of killing Cash App founder Bob Lee in an incident that initially stoked fears over safety in San Francisco has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Prosecutors say Nima Momeni, 38, stabbed Mr Lee, 43, in the early hours of 4 April in the Californian city.

Relying on CCTV, they allege the murder was premeditated as Mr Momeni drove to a secluded area.

The judge ordered Mr Momeni to be detained ahead of the trial.

His lawyer, Paula Canny, argued against the prosecution’s strategy, saying not much can be seen from the CCTV footage.

The San Francisco Standard reported it viewed CCTV footage that showed Mr Lee walking down a deserted alleyway, seemingly looking for help on the night of the attack.

He is seen stumbling towards a parked car and lifting up his shirt to reveal his wound, the outlet said, but the vehicle drives off before the tech entrepreneur falls to the ground.

Police found Mr Lee unconscious in the Rincon Hill neighbourhood with two stab wounds to his chest. He died later in hospital.

Prosecutors did not suggest a motive but said there was DNA evidence that called into question the defence’s claim of self-defence.

According to court documents, a witness told police that Mr Momeni questioned Mr Lee about his sister the night before the stabbing.

He questioned Mr Lee about whether his sister was “doing drugs or anything inappropriate”, prosecutors said. Mr Lee “had to reassure [Mr Momeni] nothing inappropriate happened”.

Mr Momeni’s sister, Khazar Elyassnia, is married to a prominent plastic surgeon in the Bay Area – both of whom attended Thursday’s hearing.

Shortly after midnight, Mr Lee went to Mrs Elyassnia’s apartment. Mr Momeni was already there and CCTV shows Mr Lee and Mr Momeni leaving together in Mr Momeni’s BMW about a half hour before the murder.

The hearing was told Mr Momeni was caught drink driving in 2004, and was charged in 2011 with a misdemeanour for carrying a switchblade, criminal records show, but that case was dismissed after he took a plea deal.

According to public records, Mr Momeni’s IT consulting business was struggling, and acquaintances described him as an introvert, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Ms Canny said Mr Momeni was not a US citizen and faced deportation to Iran, the San Francisco Standard reported.

Mr Lee’s death fuelled existing fears and criticism of rising crime in the city, before police announced the suspect was known to him.


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