As the multiply delayed preliminary hearing in the Bob Lee murder case is finally set to begin Monday, we learn there may be some new evidence from the prosecution — perhaps about motive — that will be made public.
We're going on four months since tech entrepreneur Bob Lee was fatally stabbed near San Francisco's Rincon Hill. Ten days after the stabbing, an acquaintance of Lee's and a fellow tech entrepreneur, Nima Momeni, was arrested for the murder, and prosecutors soon revealed a significant amount of evidence against him — including witness statements from earlier in the day; a damning text message from Momeni's sister, with whom Lee may have been romantically involved; video of the pair leaving the sister's condo together shortly before the murder occurred; and the murder weapon, a kitchen knife — a reportedly uncommon brand directly linked to a knife set in the sister's condo. There is also grainy surveillance video which may show the moment the stabbing occurred near the base of the Bay Bridge, if unclearly.
Lee was found to have a five-inch stab wound to his chest which pierced his heart, in addition to another wound.
The prosecution's theory of the case, while still not fully revealed, seems to have to do with Momeni disapproving of his sister's involvement with Lee, and drugs appear to be a factor as well. Friends have suggested that both Momeni and his sister had drug problems, and friends who were with Lee the afternoon before the murder have allegedly said that Momeni was upset about his sister possibly being provided drugs, and/or about the encounter with Lee, since his sister is married.
Investigators have a text message from the sister, Khazar Elyassnia, to Lee, 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."
And the initial evidence included the detail that Elyassnia and Lee had been at a gathering or party of some kind on the afternoon Monday, April 3, about 12 hours before the murder, at an apartment in 1500 Mission Street.
As the Daily Mail reports, there's been a suggestion that Elyassnia and Lee were in the company of a known drug dealer that day, and that person's name has not yet been revealed.
That detail, as well as more of what may have fueled the confrontation between Momeni and Lee, could come out as prosecutors lay out their case for taking this to trial at Monday's hearing.
Momeni's new defense team, Saam Zangeneh and Bradford Cohen, have yet to say much publicly about the case, and this hearing was most recently delayed because they were just coming fresh to the case two months ago. We learned May 30 that Momeni had fired his initially hired defense attorney, Paula Canny — or they mutually parted ways, though Canny's courtroom comments suggest otherwise. And Zangeneh, who like Momeni is of Persian descent, had reportedly reached out to Momeni's family and suggested he would be a better choice.
Canny, who spoke to reporters multiple times in her several weeks as Momeni's defense counsel, suggested that she would be pursuing a self-defense argument, and that this was not a case of first-degree murder. She characterized the stabbing as "a combination of self-defense and an accident."
Top image: Nima Momeni arrives in court at the Hall of Justice on May 18, 2023 in San Francisco, California. 38 year-old tech entrepreneur Nima Momeni was arraigned today in a San Francisco courtroom in connection with the stabbing murder of Cash App founder Bob Lee. Momeni pleaded not guilty to a murder charge. (Photo by Paul Kuroda-Pool/Getty Images)