A selfie of a smiling man
Nima Momeni's photo from Linkedin

The San Francisco District Attorney’s office today portrayed the alleged assailant of tech executive Bob Lee as a premeditated killer and danger to public safety.

The characterization came in a motion to detain — the first detailed description of the events released publicly.

San Francisco police also have surveillance footage that appears to show the moment defendant Nima Momeni stabbed Lee, the document states.

According to the nine-page motion filed by the District Attorney’s Office on Friday, Momeni, a tech consultant who was arrested in Emeryville Thursday morning and charged with Lee’s murder, drove Lee to a “dark and secluded” area, planning to kill the Cash App founder. The two men exited the car that early morning of April 4 and stood on the sidewalk for some five minutes before Momeni, armed with a 4-inch kitchen knife, lunged at Lee, the footage shows.

Additional camera footage shows Lee moments later, injured and staggering away from the scene. Momeni is seen stopping along a fence before driving away at “high speed” in a white BMW.

The knife that Momeni allegedly used was recovered near the fence. Lee was stabbed three times, according to the autopsy cited in the DA’s motion, and once through the heart with “intent to kill.”

This context, plus the fact that a kitchen knife was apparently brought from a home, the DA’s motion alleges, made Lee’s murder a “planned and deliberate attack.”

“The Defendant not only drove Victim to a secluded area in the opposite direction of his hotel, but also brought a kitchen knife with him,” the motion reads. “Defendant did not use some type of pocket knife, but a cooking knife from an apartment and kitchen.”

A woman looks over her shoulder at the camera. A man in a suit looks at the woman.
Nima Momeni’s sister, Khazar Momeni, and her husband, Dr. Dino Elyassnia, a prominent Bay Area plastic surgeon. Photo from Elyassnia’s website.

Lee spent his final afternoon with a friend and Khazar Momeni, Nima Momeni’s younger sister, who is at the center of the events surrounding Lee’s killing, according to the friend’s interview with police.

Lee’s friend told investigators that Khazar Momeni’s relationship with her husband was possibly on the rocks, but they were unsure whether Lee had an intimate relationship with her. The two had known each other for at least three to four years.

Lee’s unnamed friend told police he was with Lee and Khazar in the afternoon at an apartment on the 1500 block of Mission Street. From there, both headed to the luxury 1 Hotel by the Embarcadero, where Lee was staying in San Francisco. It was then that Lee and Momeni had their first argument of the night, according to Lee’s friend.

Lee’s friend told investigators that Momeni had been questioning Lee about “whether his sister was doing drugs or anything inappropriate,” and that Lee had to “reassure” Momeni that “nothing inappropriate had happened.” It’s unclear if this discussion took place in person; investigators reference a phone call between Momeni and Lee.

When investigators were able to access Lee’s phones on April 11, they discovered a text message that Khazar Momeni, Momeni’s sister, sent him after he left he apartment: “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.”

The DA’s office cited this text as evidence Lee was calm and collected, while Momeni was not.

At 8:31 p.m., camera footage shows Momeni’s white BMW Z4 pull into the Millennium Tower, where his sister lives, and Momeni exit the vehicle.

At an unspecified time, Lee and his friend went to the friend’s apartment. At 12:30 a.m., Lee’s friend told investigators that Lee left the apartment for Millennium Tower.

At 12:39 a.m., Lee arrived at the Millennium Tower and stayed until approximately 2:03 a.m., when both Lee and Momeni left and drove off in Momeni’s BMW, camera footage shows.

It’s then that Momeni drove Lee to the secluded 400 block of Main Street in Rincon Hill and, allegedly, fatally stabbed him.

“Immediately after stabbing Victim, Defendant threw the kitchen knife, fled the scene in his white BMW at a high rate of speed, and left Victim to slowly die,” read the DA’s motion. “Detention is necessary to protect public safety.”

Momeni appeared in a packed courtroom to be arraigned on murder charges on Friday, in a case that has drawn international attention.

The scheduled court date was pushed to April 25 at the request of Momeni’s stand-in attorney, Robert Canny, because Momeni’s chosen attorney, Paula Canny, was unavailable. Momeni did not enter a plea, but reportedly waived his right to a speedy trial, and remains in custody.

Momeni, who was arrested on Thursday morning as first reported by Mission Local, reportedly wore orange in a courtroom full of journalists. His sister, Khazar Momeni, her husband, Dr. Dino Elyassnia, a prominent Bay Area plastic surgeon, and other members of their family also appeared in court this morning.

After he was stabbed, Lee stumbled through the Rincon Hill neighborhood, surveillance video footage shows, and reportedly called 911 with his phone.

Court documents show that Lee’s blood was found on both sidewalks of the 400 block of Main Street, near where Momeni had driven him. He was later found unresponsive near 365 Main St. and driven to San Francisco General Hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.

Take a look at the key alleged events from the DA’s motion to detain Momeni:

At 3:30 p.m. on April 3, Bob Lee arrived at an apartment on the 1500 block of Mission Street.

Lee spent time there with Khazar Momeni – Nima Momeni’s sister – a friend, and the resident of the apartment.

Lee and his friend later went to 1 Hotel, where Lee was staying.

At the hotel, Nima spoke with Lee about Khazar. Nima asked whether she “was doing drugs or anything inappropriate.”

At 12:30 a.m. on April 4, Lee traveled to Khazar’s apartment in the Millennium Tower.

At 2:03 a.m., security footage shows Lee and Nima going down an elevator and leaving the Millennium Tower.

Lee and Nima drove southbound down Main Street in Nima’s BMW. They parked on the 400 block, where the stabbing occurred.

Lee was found unresponsive at 365 Main Street around 2:35 a.m. He was pronounced dead soon after.

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REPORTER. Eleni is our reporter focused on policing in San Francisco. She first moved to the city on a whim nearly 10 years ago, and the Mission has become her home. Follow her on Twitter @miss_elenius.

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  1. ……..point being: coverage by NYTimes, SFStandard, SFChronicle and SFExaminer along with local tv news outlets KRON,KPIX,KTVU and CHANNEL7 fixates on sordid, sensational aspects. Mission Local didn’t and doesn’t, so thanks for that ML.

  2. Thanks again to the grounded Mission Local reporters and stellar journalist Joe Eskenazi for breaking the story of Nema’s arrest. Couldn’t help but notice that in the New York Times most recent reporting of the story, NYT had a team of eight credited on the latest bit: SF Bureau Chief+ 2 national + 2 technology and a handful of others. Regrettably, the Times coverage veered toward sensationalist and tabloidesque its choice of tone and themes. While it appears that there are some salacious elements (what Joe might call “sad and terrible”) to the story as it unfolds, this reader greatly appreciates ML’s clear eyed, grounded coverage of the story. And The SF Standard’s coverage reads like The Enquirer or the NYPost, or one of Rupert Murdoch’s tabloid papers……a disservice to readers and thinkers.

  3. If you want to defend the honor of your little sister, a callous murder dragging her into the international media spot light may not be the best way of doing it.

  4. Sort of a take on the “honor killing” thing, you know? Possibly. An honor killing is the murder of an individual, either an outsider or a member of a family, by someone seeking to protect what they see as the dignity and honor of themselves or their family. Often connected to religion, caste, and other forms of hierarchical social stratification. Not certain, but something to consider.

    1. I would not use that term. I suspect you would not use it if the accused murderer was a white man. Additionally, it usually involves femicide, which this case does not.

  5. Thank you for publishing the Notice of Motion and Motion to Detain Without Bail; it clearly outlines some of the evidence and claims and a timeline of events. Also: the map and graphic timeline are helpful for your readership to try to understand the events leading up to and after the stabbing death. Where other publications released their own spin and commentary, Mission Local published the legal documents and timeline. Thank you for professional, credible journalism.

  6. this has all the makings of a Greek tragedy.
    Nevertheless, it is apparent from many factors that the police knew within 24 hours who their likely suspect was. They were being extra careful not to mess up and to get the search warrants right.
    Momeni blew away a decent defense by failing to surrender with an attorney within 48 hours because, clearly, this is not an ID case, he should have surrendered.

  7. Imagine if you put this amount of time and energy into the deaths of poor Black and Brown people in HP, PH, Fillmore, the Mission, the Excelsior, etc ..

  8. This is what I recognize as good old fashioned real reporting. Thank you! Facts based. No spin. Who, what, when, where, how. I can make up my own mind what I think about it. I do not like reporting that is op/ed in disguise; I know it’s very much in fashion, but I find it’s a waste of my time.

  9. Very sad. Still more to learn, obviously, but it’s looking like it was as mundane as a creepy brother who couldn’t stand that his pretty sister was living life. More details will come and maybe some nuance will develop, but with all the evidence that (if true) the DA says they already have, this one looks like it should end relatively quickly with a guilty plea.

    Tangential: a guy from Emeryville comes into SF to meet a guy visiting from Miami and happens to kill him on SF’s streets, so it goes into the data and the press covers it as a “San Francisco crime.” It seems like an awful lot of the violent crime in SF involves situations where both the perpetrator and victim come into SF from elsewhere – because SF is a hub for the Bay Area. I know that SF has jurisdiction over the crime, but if you (properly, in my opinion) removed such incidents from the “San Francisco crime” statistics because they don’t involve anyone from SF, it would reveal that our violent crime rates and the risks for actual SF residents are even lower than the already pretty low numbers.