Tuesday, December 5, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Arraignment delayed a third time in stabbing of tech exec Bob Lee

Nima Momeni's lawyer said that news of drugs found in Lee's system at the time of his death would certainly play a role in her defense of Momeni.

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — The suspect in the stabbing death of Cash App founder Bob Lee won another two-week arraignment delay after his attorney convinced a San Francisco judge the results of Lee's autopsy warranted more time to prepare.

The San Francisco medical examiner released Lee's autopsy Monday, which revealed Lee had cocaine, ketamine and alcohol in his system when he was stabbed on a street in the Rincon Hill neighborhood of San Francisco in the early morning hours of April 4.

Defense attorney Paula Canny told a judge Tuesday that given the autopsy results, she needs more time to prepare for suspect Nima Momeni's arraignment. He will next appear May 18.

Momeni, dressed in orange, sat with Canny with his back to the gallery of the courtroom, while his mother and Lee’s family looked on. He said nothing during the brief appearance.

Following the hearing, Lee’s family left the courtroom, filing past a crowd of some 30 reporters and cameras. They said little except that they were disappointed with the additional delay.  

Saying the autopsy results would certainly affect her defense strategy, Canny told reporters: “There’s a lot of drugs in Bob Lee’s system. Bob Lee’s system is like the Walgreens of recreational drugs.”

Canny said she would handle the detention motion on May 18 — Momeni is currently being held in San Francisco County Jail without bond — as well as entering a not guilty plea.

“He is not guilty, OK?” she said, adding the toxicology report will play a role in her defense of Momeni.

“What happens when people take drugs? Generally, they act like drug people,” she told reporters. “And what do drug people act like? Not themselves. Not happy-go-lucky, just kind of loser-y. They make bad decisions and do bad things."

Flowers sit at a tree in front of the building where technology executive Bob Lee was fatally stabbed in San Francisco on Thursday, April 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said she wasn’t surprised by Canny’s statements.

“That is a customary defense tactic,” Jenkins said. “That is normal.”

Jenkins said the defense can stretch out the arraignment as long as they wish, “and the law views it as his choice whether or not to exercise his rights to a speedy hearing or any other part of this criminal justice process.”

Momeni stands accused of stabbing Lee to death in the very early morning hours of April 4. Investigators have been piecing together the relationship between the two men and have hinted at the possible source of conflict between them: Lee’s relationship with Momeni’s sister, Khazar Elyassnia.

According to investigators, Lee and Momeni were riding in Momeni’s car when they began to argue and Momeni stabbed Lee three times with a knife that was found later a short distance from the spot where officers found Lee.

Video footage from a residential building near where the stabbing took place showed Lee making his way through the streets, clearly injured.

“He’s walking fast but he doesn’t wobble,” Robert Schneider, a residential services manager who saw the video, told the San Francisco Chronicle shortly after the incident. “He is on the phone and trying to flag down passing cars, but no one stops.”

Lee, the father of two young children, had recently moved from Mill Valley in nearby Marin County to Miami, and was visiting San Francisco at the time of his stabbing. Newspaper reports following his murder depicted a man who was widely admired and who counted many friends in the tech industry.

Categories / Criminal

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.