New details emerged in the stabbing death of Cashapp founder Bob Lee at a preliminary hearing for his alleged murderer, Nima Momeni, in San Francisco on Monday.
Witnesses and investigators laid out a gruesome play-by-play of Lee’s final hours during the hearing, speaking at length about the blood coating the streets following the incident and an argument that may have led to the fatal attack.
Officer Cedric Hood with the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) described responding to the scene of Lee’s stabbing and finding him “unresponsive” and “bleeding uncontrollably from the chest and the hip.”
A SFPD crime scene investigator, Rosalyn Clark, then described finding a trail of blood drops and smears spanning an entire city block, allegedly left by Lee as he desperately sought help after being stabbed in the early hours of April 4.
Clark testified that the suspected murder weapon, a blood-stained four-inch kitchen knife, was found abandoned by police in a fenced-in CalTrans parking lot on the same street.
The prosecutor, Omid Talai, previously said Lee’s DNA was found on the blade of the knife, while Momeni’s was found on the handle. Prosecutors allege the knife itself was taken from the apartment of Khazar Elyassnia, Momeni’s sister.
Momeni’s sister, and her relationship with Lee, is at the center of the case. Lee and Elyssnia were casually sleeping together, according to reporting by the Wall Street Journal. Elyassnia was the subject of a dispute between Lee and Momeni in the hours preceding the murder, prosecutors have alleged. On April 3, the evening before he was killed, Lee attended a house party with Elyssiana, according to the Journal.
Later that evening, Momeni approached Lee and asked “whether his sister was doing drugs or anything inappropriate,” according to court records. Lee told Momeni that “nothing inappropriate had happened,” the records say.
In court, Talai played surveillance footage from April 3, showing Momeni entering Millenium Tower, a luxury high rise building in downtown San Francisco where his sister lives. Four hours later, the footage showed Lee entering the same building. Just after 2 a.m. on April 4, the two men rode down in the elevator together and appeared to get into Momeni’s white BMW and drive away, according to the footage.
It was only minutes later, according to prosecutors, that Momeni stabbed Lee on a deserted street near the Bay Bridge, then threw the knife away. Footage played in court showed Lee stumbling down Main Street, and finally collapsing.
Following the stabbing, police unlocked Lee’s phone and found a text message from his sister, in which Elyassnia said, “I know nima came wayyyyyy down hard on you And thank you for being such a classy man handling it with class.”
Momeni sat in court wearing an orange jumpsuit, flanked by his new legal team. He seemed to take an active role in his defense as the hearing unfolded, scribbling in a yellow legal pad and passing notes to his new attorneys.
In May, Momeni parted ways with his previous attorney, Paula Canny, who later cited a conflict of interest. Momeni is now being represented by four attorneys; Saam Zangeneh, Bradford Cohen, Zoe Aron and Tony Brass.
Zangeneh, a Miami-based attorney, describes himself as a “legal sicario” on social media and, like Momeni, is of Persian descent. Cohen made his name representing rappers like Kodak Black and Lil Wayne, who both received pardons from former President Donald Trump.
In fact, there were so many lawyers in court representing Momeni that an extra table had to be brought in and the judge helped carry in an extra chair. By contrast, the prosecution was represented by a single lawyer, Omid Talai, an assistant district attorney with the San Francisco District Attorney’s office.
About a dozen friends and family of Bob Lee, including his ex-wife Krista Lee, his father Rick Lee, and his brother Tim Oliver Lee sat on one side of the courtroom. On the other side, dressed all in white, sat Mahnaz Momeni, the mother of Nima Momeni.
Notably absent from the courtroom was Elyassnia, Momeni’s sister.
Momeni’s defense attorneys took aim at the SFPD’s investigation, questioning how and why certain pieces of evidence were treated.
“There’s areas of concern in this investigation,” Zaaganeh told reporters, citing specifically that the handle of the suspected murder weapon was tested for DNA but not for fingerprints.
The defense attorneys were particularly interested in a “homeless individual” who police located only 40 feet away from where Lee died. Officer Hood, who responded to the scene of Lee’s murder, said the man had been found lying behind some trash bins.
“He didn’t give a clear, rational statement on why he was where he was,” Hood said.
“It was a person who was at the scene, and I don’t think enough attention was put with regards to who this person was,” Zaaganeh said.
The hearing is expected to continue on Tuesday.