Bob Lee murder suspect’s arraignment delayed as defense seeks more time

SAN FRANCISCO — The technology consultant accused of stabbing CashApp founder Bob Lee and leaving him for dead on a city street plans to plead not guilty to a count of murder, his attorney said Tuesday.

Nima Momeni, 38, did not officially enter that plea because a San Francisco judge granted a request by Momeni’s lawyer that the hearing be postponed until next Tuesday. Standing beside Momeni in court, defense attorney Paula Canny argued that she had not received enough evidence from prosecutors to move forward with an arraignment. Asked by the judge whether he was okay with the postponement, Momeni responded: “Yes, your honor.”

Momeni, dressed in bright orange clothing, said nothing more during the short hearing, which was attended by several members of Lee’s family.

Dueling news conferences given by the prosecution and the defense after the proceedings offered a glimpse into how a case may play out.

Canny said she had enough evidence to prove Momeni’s innocence. She also sought to cast doubt on video that prosecutors say shows when Momeni allegedly stabbed Lee.

“I don’t think you can see anything in the videos,” she said.

At a separate news conference an hour later, San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said that her office believes “there is video footage connected to this crime” while declining to discuss specifics.

Jenkins said she took issue with the postponement because more than 20 members of Lee’s family were present in the courtroom.

“They have undergone significant trauma in losing Mr. Lee already,” she said. “And these families want to see these cases move forward through the court process expeditiously.”

Momeni was arrested nearly two weeks after the early morning attack on Lee, who was found April 4 suffering from multiple stab wounds in a residential neighborhood near downtown. The killing of the well-known Silicon Valley entrepreneur shocked the city and was initially seized upon by conservative media outlets and some tech executives, including Elon Musk, who baselessly cast it as symptomatic of a city overrun by random street crime.

For the past 13 years, Momeni has owned a San Francisco Bay Area consulting company called Expand IT, according to his LinkedIn profile. It’s not yet clear how Lee and Momeni knew each other, though Jenkins said Lee knew Momeni’s sister.

Prosecutors say the two men had been in each other’s company hours before the killing.

According to court documents, Lee had been drinking with friends, including Momeni’s sister, on April 3. Momeni later confronted Lee in a city hotel room, prosecutors allege, demanding to know whether his sister had been doing drugs or anything inappropriate, which Lee said was not the case. Around 8:30 that night, Momeni went to his sister’s apartment at a luxury high-rise in the city’s downtown, and Lee arrived there four hours later, according to prosecutors.

The two left the apartment in Momeni’s white BMW around 2 a.m., stopping in a dark, secluded area where prosecutors say video shows them exiting the car. The video shows a man who appears to be Momeni suddenly moving toward someone appearing to be Lee, prosecutors wrote in court documents. Minutes later, an injured Lee was captured on a surveillance camera walking away. Police later recovered a four-inch kitchen knife, which appeared to have blood on it, in a parking lot near where Lee was found, prosecutors said.

Friends remember CashApp founder’s zest for life, while mourning his death

On April 13, Momeni was arrested at his apartment in Emeryville, a suburb just east of San Francisco.

Lee, 43, and a father of two, was chief product officer at MobileCoin, a cryptocurrency company. In interviews with The Washington Post, friends described him as a warmhearted and generous friend who stayed humble despite his success and used his talents to help people.

He’d also worked on Android at Google before working to help small businesses with Square and launching CashApp, which has become one of the most popular mobile payment apps, enabling people to directly send one another money.

Neighbors have described Momeni as an affable and gregarious neighbor who was generous with invitations to parties and rides on his sailboat.

Last summer, Momeni was cited on suspicion of battering a woman at his Emeryville apartment, the San Francisco Chronicle reported, citing court records. Momeni was released and Alameda County prosecutors declined to pursue the misdemeanor battery charge, according to the Chronicle.

Responding to the citation, Canny said that prosecutors did not file charges in the case and Momeni was not arrested. She called the reports “salacious.”

“It’s sort of a nonissue,” she said. “It wouldn’t even be admissible.”

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