Nima Momeni, the 38-year-old tech entrepreneur who is the sole suspect accused of the April 4 murder of Bob Lee in San Francisco, is headed to trial on the murder charge following a two-day preliminary hearing.
The judge in the hearing, SF Superior Court Judge Harry Dorfman, ruled Tuesday that Momeni should stand trial, and that there is ample evidence to support a charge of first-degree murder.
Momeni's defense team, led by Florida-based attorney Saam Zangeneh, tried to poke holes in some of the prosecution evidence on Monday, including questioning why fingerprints were never taken from the presumed murder weapon, a kitchen knife. And Zangeneh has also tried to characterize Lee and Momeni's interactions the day before the murder as friendly. But Judge Dorfman was not having it.
"A decision was made to kill," Dorfman said in court, per KRON4. "I’m not persuaded that voluntary manslaughter is the only reasonably conclusion. Nima Momeni, I am satisfied that the only crime charged, murder, did occur and that you are responsible for it."
Zangeneh called only one witness in the hearing, SFPD Sgt. Brent Dittmer, to ask about some information from a police report that witnesses said they'd observed Momeni and Lee "bro-ing out" on April 3. As KRON4 recounts, Zangeneh asked Sgt. Dittmer, "What do you take bro-ing out to mean? Were they getting along?” And he asked "If someone says, ‘hey that’s my bro,’ what does that mean?”
Dittmer replied that the phrase is too vague to mean anything about their relationship.
As KRON4 reports, prosecutors went hard after the defense attorneys' angle on Monday of trying to question various pieces evidence, including the grainy surveillance footage they say shows the moment of the stabbing, and trying to characterize the stabbing as accidental.
"It’s laughable that he’s stabbed three times by accident, or that a random homeless person committed this crime," said Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai in a closing statement, per KRON4. "[Momeni] knew his act was dangerous. There is more than enough evidence to show the defendant committed murder."
We also learned today a bit more about the weekend of partying that led up to the alleged conflict between Momeni and Lee — vague details of which we heard shortly after Momeni's April 13 arrest. Lee was reportedly romantically connected to Momeni's married sister, Khazar Elyassnia, and the two were at a party together, police say, on the afternoon of April 3. This party, we learned Monday, appears to have been hosted by a person named Jeremy, whom prosecutors say was a known drug dealer.
Prosecutors say that Momeni had already threatened to kill Jeremy that day — and apparently Elyassnia and a female friend believe they were given a date-rape drug by Jeremy. Investigators say — and this seems key to Momeni's anger, and therefore his motive — the friend passed out and awoke to find "Khazar crying and dressed in only a bikini," per KRON4.
Sgt. Dittmer reportedly testified that Lee had attended multiple parties on April 2 and 3, including the one at this Jeremy's home.
He further testified that they had text evidence that Lee told Elyassnia he was headed to her place around midnight on April 3, and she gave him her unit number at Millennium Tower but added, "Babe I want to pass out." It's believed that Momeni was with his sister at her condo at the time that Lee arrived there, following a day of partying.
Surveillance footage, as we know, clearly shows Lee and Momeni leave the building together about 20 to 25 minutes and get in Momeni's BMW, before the stabbing occurred nearby.
Zangeneh on Monday attempted to dispute prosecutors' theory that this was an "honor killing" committed to protect the honor of Momeni's sister, with whom he had a very close bond, according to friends.
Krista Lee, the ex-wife of Bob Lee, clapped once as soon as the judge delivered his ruling, per KRON4. She subsequently spoke to reporters outside the courtroom and said she hopes that someday "we will get a motive" in the case. "Does a family deserve that? I don't know. His children certainly do," Ms. Lee said. She further said there was "zero doubt" that Momeni was the killer, and she denied fully that her ex-husband and he were "bros" in any sense of the word.
Bob Lee’s ex-wife, Krista Lee, said he may have been murdered for being “at the wrong place at the wrong time.” Krista said her children deserve to know why their father was stabbed to death in San Francisco. She also said there’s zero doubt that Nima Momeni was the killer. pic.twitter.com/1iyuWb60ew— Amy Larson (@AmyLarson25) August 1, 2023
Top image: SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - MAY 18: Nima Momeni arrives in court at the Hall of Justice on May 18, 2023 in San Francisco, California.v38 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.vMomeni pleaded not guilty to a murder charge. (Photo by Paul Kuroda-Pool/Getty Images)