We now have information from prosecutors about a possible motive in the stabbing death of Bob Lee in downtown San Francisco, and suspect Nima Momeni made a brief court appearance Friday, but his arraignment was postponed.
Momeni said little in court Friday, as KRON4 reports, besides "Yes, Your Honor," and his arraignment has been delayed two weeks because his lawyer is on vacation. His arraignment will now occur at 9 a.m. on April 25.
According to documents filed in court by prosecutors and obtained by the Chronicle, police have surveillance video showing Lee and Momeni leaving Millennium Tower on the night of the stabbing — where Momeni's sister owns a unit — and getting into Momeni's BMW Z4. Allegedly they also have video of the stabbing taking place on the 400 block of Main Street.
Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai filed the documents, outlining investigators' theory of the case, in order to convince the judge to keep Momeni in custody without bail.
An unnamed friend allegedly told investigators that Lee had been partying with friends on the afternoon of April 3, first at an apartment that possibly belonged to Lee at 1500 Mission Street, and at a hotel room he rented at 1 Hotel on the Embarcadero (formerly the Hotel Vitale). Those friends included Momeni's sister, Khazar Elyassnia — with whom the Chronicle reports Lee was already acquainted. This friend, named by prosecutors as Witness 1, apparently told investigators that Lee knew that Elyassnia's marriage "had possibly been in jeopardy."
It's not clear where the hotel room comes into this — the apartment is also described as Lee's apparently — or who traveled to the hotel and when.
The friend allegedly witnessed a confrontation between Lee and Momeni, either at the apartment or the hotel, in which Lee was insisting that Momeni's sister was not doing drugs and that "nothing inappropriate had happened."
Investigators also found a text message on Lee's phone from the sister, saying, "Just wanted to make sure your doing ok cause I know Nima came wayyyyyy down hard on you and thank you for being such a classy man handling it with class love you selfish pricks."
Surveillance footage allegedly shows Momeni and Lee in an elevator in Millennium Tower, exiting the building together at 2:03 a.m. on April 4. Momeni had gotten to his sister's condo around 8:30 p.m., and Lee joined them there at 12:39 a.m., and the two men reportedly left together and got into Momeni's BMW. They then drove the opposite direction of Lee's hotel, and standing outside the vehicle near the Bay Bridge on the 400 block of Main Street, video purportedly shows a man police identified as Momeni "lunge toward" the man identified as Lee, followed by Lee stumbling away up the block. This would have been followed by the events in the surveillance footage we already saw of a wounded Lee trying to seek help at the Portside II building, which had an unmanned lobby.
There is also allegedly video evidence of Momeni disposing of the four-inch kitchen knife used in the stabbing, by a CalTrans fence where it was later found by investigators.
Momeni, an Emeryville resident, was arrested early Thursday morning, about ten days after his alleged acquaintance Bob Lee was found with a fatal stab wound to the heart on the 300 block of Main Street, on April 4.
We know from multiple accounts now that both men were avid partyers — Lee was known to friends and colleagues as "Crazy Bob," and friends have said he was always the last to leave a party or gathering. According to neighbors in the Emeryville loft complex where Momeni lived, the Besler Building, several of whom spoke to reporters on Thursday, Momeni was friendly and social, and there was an account in the LA Times of a woman wandering the hallway the night before Lee's "screaming" Momeni's name around 2:30 a.m., because she didn't know which unit was his. This led to a neighbor complaint being filed.
A neighbor who considered himself a friend told the Daily Beast that Momeni "moonlighted as a DJ and 'pissed off all the neighbors playing loud music at all hours of the night' and hosting parties."
One neighbor spoke to the Chronicle and said that "Momeni had come to his door the night of the killing, asking for alcohol." The man did not give his name, and, the Chron reports, "It wasn’t clear if the neighbor met with Momeni before or after the stabbing."
Momeni's family is of Iranian dissent, and they are members of a persecuted religious minority there, Zoroastrians. Born in Iran (ca. 1984/5), Momeni came to the US with his mother sometime in the 80s, as a family friend told Forbes.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Momeni attended Laney College and Vista College as well as UC Berkeley, however the Chronicle contacted UC Berkeley and they said they had no record of anyone attending the school by that name.
Momeni had an IT and cybersecurity consulting startup called Expand IT, which he apparently founded around 2010. It was successful enough that he had bought the condo in Emeryville for $525,000 in 2020.
Momeni's sister and his brother-in-law, plastic surgeon Dr. Dino Elyassnia, appeared in court Friday along with several other of Momeni's family members.
Arraignment for suspect in #BobLee killing continued to April 25. Suspect will remain behind bars at least until that time. Numerous family members Of suspect in court.@kron4news pic.twitter.com/tAhBS5xFcE— Dan Kerman (@DanKermanSF) April 14, 2023
The SF Standard reported that the SFPD served a search warrant Thursday at Momeni's sister's condo in Millennium Tower, as well as one at 1 Hotel.
The Daily Beast has it from the neighbor/friend that Momeni "had a few guns and knives lying around at his bachelor-pad apartment," and that he had been acting strangely for the last week — multiple times talking about traveling to Colombia and inviting the neighbor to come. He also allegedly told the neighbor he was expecting a visit from police, but that it was related to a "conflict with some girl."
Lee’s ex-wife Krista Lee referred to Momeni as a "soulless piece of shit" in a text to a Daily Beast reporter.
Per the Chronicle, Momeni had a misdemeanor DUI on his record in Alameda County from 2004 — when he would have been around 19 years old — and in 2011, he was arrested for allegedly selling a switchblade knife and driving with a suspended license. He pleaded no contest to the license thing, the knife charge was dropped, and he served 10 days in jail.
Previously: SF District Attorney Slams 'Reckless and Irresponsible' Tweets By Musk and Others Following Murder Arrest
This story has been updated with further details about the events of April 3, and the alleged text message from Khazar Elyassnia.