SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — Nima Momeni, the man accused in the fatal stabbing of tech executive Bob Lee in April, pleaded not guilty in a San Francisco courtroom Thursday morning and was denied bail.
Momeni, 38, entering the courtroom dressed in orange sweat clothes, nodded to a man in the gallery who flashed a victory sign to the suspect before he took his seat.
Standing before Judge Victor Hwang, Momeni's attorney Paula Canny stated, “I represent Nima Momeni who is present in custody.” Hwang then asked Canny if Momeni was ready for his arraignment. Hearing yes, the judge proceeded to read the charges against Momeni: a single count of murder using “a deadly weapon, to wit, a knife.”
The crime, Hwang continued, “involved great violence, bodily harm, and a high degree of callousness and viciousness.” Momeni, through Canny, then waived further reading of the charges and denied each of the allegations lodged against him. Finally, after arraignment was postponed three times since the killing six weeks before, Canny entered Momeni’s not guilty plea.
This week, Canny asked for Momeni to be released on bail, arguing later in court that Momeni had been cooperative, “a model.” With substantial ties to San Francisco, and a large number of letters from friends and family attesting to his character, “he doesn’t appear to be a flight risk,” said Canny.
The prosecution disagreed. As a man of means and a citizen of another country, Momeni is a flight risk and could take refuge outside the United States, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said in a press conference following the arraignment.
“When we file motions to detain, we’re looking at two arguments: whether we believe the defendant is a public safety risk and, also, whether the defendant is a flight risk,” said Jenkins. “In this case, we argue both. The primary argument on our part was public safety, that we believe this is somebody who engaged in murder, right? Very violent, the most dangerous type of conduct in an intentional manner. And so, for us, we believe that the primary concern of the court should be that.”
Momeni stands accused of stabbing Lee, the founder of Cash App, 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. The father of two young children, Lee had recently moved from Mill Valley in nearby Marin County to Miami and was visiting San Francisco at the time of his stabbing.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.