Following a brief court appearance Tuesday at which his attorney indicated that Nima Momeni intends to plead not guilty at a rescheduled arraignment next week, a few more details have come out about Momeni's relationship with his sister and his lack of real connection to victim Bob Lee.
The bulk of the details in this case arrived two weeks ago, following the dramatic arrest of 38-year-old Nima Momeni in Emeryville. The tech entrepreneur, we learned from court filings, had been at an apartment party on Monday, April 3 with his sister, Khazar Elyassnia, who possibly also still went by Khazar Momeni. Friends who spoke to police alleged that Khazar's marriage might have been on the rocks, and that some reconnection with 43-year-old Bob Lee had occurred at this party. The two had reportedly known each other for several years, and at least one witness has alleged that Nima was upset about the possibility that something "inappropriate" had occurred between Lee and his sister that afternoon — and that his sister had been offered drugs.
Bloomberg has some new reporting on this, and clarifies that the apartment party, which was at 1500 Mission Street, was where Lee was until the evening hours of that Monday, at which point he returned with a friend to his hotel room at One Hotel, on the Embarcadero. Nima Momeni reportedly called Lee on his cellphone while he was at the hotel — and Momeni's number was recorded in Lee's phone as "Nima via Khazar," which indicates that they likely had no friendship of their own.
Hours later, it seems that Lee was convinced to join Momeni and his sister at his sister's home in Millennium Tower. He arrived there at 12:30 a.m. on April 4, and an hour and a half later he would be seen on surveillance footage descending in an elevator with Momeni, and getting into Momeni's car. It's shortly after this, police say, that the two can be seen in grainy surveillance footage from afar having a brief discussion after which Momeni allegedly lunged a Lee, and then sped off in his car. Lee was then seen in other footage stumbling up Main Street, and trying to get the attention of someone inside a condo building there.
Police say that Momeni stabbed Lee three times with a four-inch kitchen knife which was later found near this scene. One wound pierced his heart.
Police recovered a text message received on Lee's phone from Khazar, presumably around the time he was killed and just after leaving Khazar's apartment, 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."
Bloomberg also has it that Lee was scheduled to be on a flight Tuesday morning, April 4, and news of his murder only began coming in to friends after two of them went to pick him up to take him to the airport and didn't find him at his hotel. They used Find my Friends to locate his phone, and were surprised to see it pinging at a police station.
Friends, and Lee's ex-wife, tell Bloomberg that Lee and Momeni had no relationship at all, and it sounds as though they may have only met for the first time at this afternoon party. And while both men have been described as highly social, and both liked to party, "their core personalities were opposites," according to a mutual friend of both men who spoke to Bloomberg.
A friend of Momeni's tells Bloomberg that he was highly protective of his younger sister, and that "Those two are like guard dogs for each other... The idea of someone disrespecting her is very upsetting to him."
Friends also suggested that Momeni lacked Lee's "warmth," and he often "used his flashy lifestyle as a way to draw people close to him."
Per Bloomberg, Momeni's attorney, Paula Canny, while asking for another week to prepare before the actual arraignment, has already signaled that the plea will be not guilty.
Canny already said in a TV interview prior to reviewing the evidence that she does not believe this is a first-degree murder case. And as she told Bloomberg in an interview outside the courtroom, she plans to present evidence of Momeni's "challenging" past and "many tribulations" in court.
"My client is a super nice person, and his family loves him and supports him, and there's so much more to this and there's a much greater backstory than is disclosed at all in the government's [documents]," Canny said.