a man in an orange jumpsuit in a court room
Nima Momeni surveys the crowded courtroom before being taken back into custody on April 25. Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan

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Some 20 supporters, including the children of Bob Lee, the tech executive who was stabbed to death earlier this month, filed into a San Francisco courthouse on Tuesday morning to see the arraignment of Lee’s accused killer, tech entrepreneur Nima Momeni. 

But the arraignment, in which Momeni was expected to enter a not-guilty plea to murder charges, was delayed for the second time, with Momeni’s defense attorney claiming she had not received critical information, including Lee’s autopsy report. 

Prosecutors accuse Momeni of killing Lee, the founder of Cash App, with a four-inch kitchen knife on a darkened SoMa street in the early morning hours of April 4. 

“One of the reasons I’m not prepared at this time is some discovery issues,” said Momeni’s attorney, Paula Canny, in court, referring to the evidence she had not received in the case. “It’s not rocket science that if a person is arrested, the defense lawyer’s gonna need the discovery.” 

Canny requested a continuance of the arraignment. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Victor Hwang granted it.

Momeni, her client, sat beside her in orange sweats, and remained silent, except to agree to waive his right to speedy court proceedings. In the audience, Momeni’s mother and a private investigator who appeared in court with the family earlier this month looked on. 

Nima Momeni’s attorney, Paula Canny, speaks with reporters. Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan

Momeni’s sister, Khazar Momeni, around whom the dispute between Lee and Momeni purportedly centered, was notably absent in court on Tuesday. 

According to a witness interview cited in court filings, Nima Momeni had expressed concerns about what his sister and Lee did together before the stabbing, with Momeni purportedly grilling Lee on whether she was “doing drugs.” 

Lee, per the court documents, assured him that nothing untoward was going on. Lee and Khazar Momeni had spent time together earlier in the day. 

Though Khazar Momeni and her husband appeared in court on April 14, surrounded by a scrum of cameras, they did not appear on Tuesday. 

“Partly because it was so traumatic when she came last time,” Canny said, “with being inundated with all the cameras and stuff, I think it just completely freaked her out.” 

After Judge Hwang agreed to continue the case to May 2, Momeni turned to embrace Canny, and briefly surveyed the crowded courtroom, where his family, many rows of supporters for Lee, and the press watched attentively. 

Lee’s friends and family filed in and out of the courtroom together with eyes averted, and declined to speak with reporters. District Attorney Brooke Jenkins confirmed that Lee’s teenage daughters were present. 

Momeni was arrested in his Emeryville home and charged with homicide for Lee’s death on April 13. His arraignment, originally scheduled for the next day, was first delayed because Canny was out of town. 

Details regarding Lee’s killing emerged in the district attorney’s motion to detain Momeni earlier this month, in which the DA portrayed the stabbing as a premeditated murder. The document retraced Lee’s and Momeni’s movements on the night of April 3 and early morning of April 4, based on witness testimony and surveillance camera footage, and alleged that Momeni was caught on video lunging at, and presumably stabbing, Lee. 

Prosecutors also alleged that the murder weapon, a kitchen knife, had been found near the scene. At a press conference after the court hearing, District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said that blood had been found on the knife, but would not confirm whether DNA tests of the knife determined whether the evidence matched Momeni’s or Lee’s DNA. 

Nima Momeni, alleged killer of Bob Lee, in a orange prison clothing, hugging his attorney.
Nima Momeni embraces his attorney, Paula Canny. Photo by Eleni Balakrishnan

Canny said after leaving the courtroom on Tuesday that she intends to oppose the district attorney’s motion to detain Momeni, claiming that he is neither a flight risk nor a danger to society. She also said that Momeni will plead not guilty to his homicide charge and the enhancement for using a knife. 

Canny added that the police department had not yet provided certain evidence to the District Attorney’s Office, who had, in turn, not provided it to her. 

Jenkins said that she and her prosecutor, Omid Talai, were surprised, considering the amount of evidence available, by the defense’s move to delay the arraignment again, and said that Lee’s family was also disappointed. 

“They have undergone significant trauma in losing Mr. Lee already, and these families want to see these cases move forward through the court process expeditiously,” Jenkins said. 

Lee’s death was initially used by his fellow tech executives and media to advance a narrative that crime had spun out of control in San Francisco, but the arrest of Momeni, who was an acquaintance of Lee’s and an affluent tech executive, discredited that theory. 

Neither the district attorney nor Canny clarified the exact relationship between Lee and the two Momeni siblings. 

A text Khazar Momeni allegedly sent to Lee after they parted ways read: “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.”

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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. The 911 operator should ask Lee who stabbed you, where on yr body and when it happened and get his location right away, it will take only 20 seconds for Lee to answer those questions. All I know is Lee is in a better place, the Lord always do the best for us…

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  2. Campers,

    And, the holdup is with the cops.

    Who wudda thunk it ?

    With crime down you’d think they had more time to spend on this case in particular.

    Did you know that it used to be that Homicide Detectives were chosen by seniority ?

    Maybe they still are.

    Looks like it.

    Go Warriors !!

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