Nima Momeni, the man charged with murder for allegedly stabbing tech executive Bob Lee to death earlier this year, pleaded not guilty, again, this morning when he was re-arraigned at the San Francisco criminal courthouse.
Attorney Tony Brass, one of Momeni’s four lawyers, today moved to waive Momeni’s right to a speedy trial. A trial date will be set on Oct. 2. Momeni will remain in jail until then.
Momeni, who was arrested and charged in April, sat through a preliminary hearing two weeks ago during which the District Attorney’s Office and his defense attorneys conducted a mini-trial for the judge to determine whether to send the case to a jury trial.
Prosecutors said surveillance footage showed Momeni lunge at Lee on a secluded SoMa street, and that Momeni’s DNA was found on the murder weapon. A 3.5-inch kitchen knife, believed to have come from Momeni’s sister’s apartment in Millennium Tower, was found near the incident, with Lee’s DNA on the bloody blade.
Momeni’s lawyers, however, spent two days attempting to cast doubt on the entire case, suggesting that Momeni may not have committed the act at all — despite video evidence showing a blurry figure who appears to be Momeni stabbing Lee near where he was found unconscious.
Today, Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai said that he was prepared to release Momeni’s car, a white BMW Z4 in which the two men had ridden minutes before the stabbing. Video shows that car being driven by Momeni, with Lee in tow, from Momeni’s sister’s apartment to the scene of the killing. After the alleged stabbing, surveillance footage showed Momeni’s car rapidly exiting the scene.
The vehicle had been seized as evidence during the investigation of the murder. Prosecutors said they were finished with their examination.
“We have no interest in examining that, on either side,” Talai said.
Brass also requested that the daily impound fee be waived, but it is unclear if that request will be granted.
San Francisco Superior Court Judge Rochelle East agreed to release the car.
During Tuesday’s brief hearing, Momeni sat in the corner of the courtroom, while his mother, his only family member in attendance, stood watching over him. As he left the courtroom, he turned back to wave to her. She blew him kisses.
Lee and Momeni were both at the home of Khazar Momeni, Nima Momeni’s sister, the evening of April 3. The two men left together, and went for a short drive in Momeni’s white BMW through the Rincon Hill neighborhood near the Bay Bridge. Blurry video footage appears to show the two men exit the car and stand together for several minutes, before Lee walks away and begins bleeding out from stab wounds.
Momeni’s team of attorneys — two celebrity lawyers from Miami, Florida, and two California lawyers — said last week that other people may have been present at the murder scene, such as a homeless man nearby, or that the dispute between the two men was of a different nature than previously believed. It was a marked contrast from Momeni’s previous strategy under his prior attorney, Paula Canny, which focused on a self-defense claim.
Their arguments, however, failed to persuade the judge, who ordered that the case to go to trial.