UNITED STATES NEWS

Suspect in fatal stabbing of Cash App founder pleads not guilty

May 18, 2023, 11:19 AM | Updated: 1:48 pm

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Tech consultant Nima Momeni pleaded not guilty Thursday to a murder charge in the stabbing death of Cash App founder Bob Lee on the streets of San Francisco.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Victor Hwang ordered Momeni, 38, kept in jail without bail, saying his release posed a public safety risk. Momeni, who appeared in an orange sweatshirt and pants, did not speak, and his attorney Paula Canny entered the plea on his behalf.

The case has drawn national attention, partly given Lee’s status in the tech world. Lee was found with three stab wounds, including one to the heart, shortly after 2:30 a.m. April 4 and was taken to a hospital, where he later died. He was found in the Rincon Hill neighborhood in downtown San Francisco, which has tech offices and condominiums but little activity in the early morning hours.

Lee, 43, created Cash App, a mobile payment service, and was the chief product officer of the cryptocurrency MobileCoin. He was mourned as a loving father of two who made friends wherever he went.

Prosecutors have not provided a motive but say Momeni stabbed Lee after a dispute related to Momeni’s sister, Khazar Elyassnia. She appeared in court Thursday alongside Momeni’s mother.

Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai argued Thursday to detain Momeni without bail, saying that the defendant drove Lee to a secluded spot and used a knife that was part of a unique kitchen set belonging to his sister. Police recovered a knife with a 4-inch blade at the scene.

Talai said that analysis showed Momeni’s DNA on the handle of the knife and Lee’s DNA on the bloody blade and no evidence that Lee had touched the handle, contradicting Canny’s claim of self-defense for her client.

But Canny said that Momeni did not drive Lee to a secluded spot with the aim of killing him. Instead, she said, Lee directed him to pull over after calling an Uber because the two had argued. The last time Momeni saw Lee, Canny said, Lee was standing upright and walking away.

“People can have a fight and not know that somebody’s been mortally wounded,” she said in court, later adding, “Every one of us, including my client, is heartbroken that Bob Lee died.”

Canny said Momeni has strong ties to the community and needs to stay and fight the charges or else face deportation to Iran, which would separate him from the two people he loves most, his mother and sister. Momeni is not a U.S. citizen.

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

San Francisco’s District Attorney Brooke Jenkins rejected that idea in speaking to reporters after the arraignment. “We believe that we have the murderer of Mr. Lee, and that’s Mr. Momeni,” she said.

Momeni was arrested last month at his home in Emeryville, which is across the bay from San Francisco.

An unnamed friend of Lee told homicide investigators they had been hanging out and drinking with Momeni’s sister the day before the stabbing, prosecutors said in a motion to detain Momeni without bail.

The friend said Momeni later questioned Lee about whether his sister was doing drugs or otherwise engaging in inappropriate behavior and Lee said she had not.

The friend and Lee later parted ways, and surveillance video showed Lee entering the posh Millennium Tower downtown, where Elyassnia lives with her husband, a prominent plastic surgeon. Video footage then showed Lee and Momeni leaving the building together shortly after 2 a.m. and driving off in Momeni’s car.

Momeni faces 26 years to life if convicted.

United States News

Associated Press

The Latest | Israeli strikes in Rafah kill at least 5

Palestinian hospital officials say Israeli airstrikes on the southern city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip have killed at least five people. Among those killed in the strikes overnight and into Thursday were two children, identified in hospital records as Sham Najjar, 6, and Jamal Nabahan, 8. More than half of the territory’s population of […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Colleges nationwide turn to police to quell pro-Palestine protests as commencement ceremonies near

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — With graduations looming, student protesters doubled down early Thursday on their discontent of the Israel-Hamas war on campuses across the country as universities, including ones in California and Texas, have become quick to call in the police to end the demonstrations and make arrests. While grappling with growing protests from coast […]

3 hours ago

Anti-Abortion activists rally outside the Supreme Court, Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Washington. ...

Associated Press

Supreme Court justices unconvinced state abortion bans conflict with federal health care law

Conservative Supreme Court justices are skeptical that state abortion bans enacted after the overturning of Roe v. Wade violate federal law.

8 hours ago

Lisa Pisano looks at photos of her dog after her surgeries at NYU Langone Health in New York on Mon...

Associated Press

New Jersey woman becomes second patient to receive kidney from gene-edited pig

A New Jersey woman who was near death received a transplanted pig kidney that stabilized her failing heart.

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Instagram fraudster ‘Jay Mazini’ has been sentenced for his crypto scheme that preyed on Muslims

NEW YORK (AP) — The former Instagram influencer known as “ swindled millions of dollars from online followers and a network of Muslims during the pandemic was sentenced to seven years in prison on Wednesday, prosecutors said. Jebara Igbara, 28, of New Jersey, had pleaded guilty to fraud charges, admitting that he created a Ponzi […]

9 hours ago

Associated Press

Connecticut Senate passes wide-ranging bill to regulate AI. But its fate remains uncertain

HARTFORD (AP) — The Connecticut Senate pressed ahead Wednesday with one of the first major legislative proposals in the U.S. to reign in bias in artificial intelligence decision-making and protect people from harm, including manufactured videos or deepfakes. The vote was held despite concerns the bill might stifle innovation, become a burden for small businesses […]

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

(KTAR News Graphic)...

Boys & Girls Clubs

KTAR launches online holiday auction benefitting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley

KTAR is teaming up with The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Valley for a holiday auction benefitting thousands of Valley kids.

Suspect in fatal stabbing of Cash App founder pleads not guilty