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Nima Momeni, the man accused of killing Cash App founder Bob Lee in San Francisco, intends to plead not guilty next week, his attorney said.
Momeni was to be arraigned on a murder charge Tuesday but that was put off until May 2 after defense attorney Paula Canny asked for more time to prepare.
Canny told reporters after the hearing that her client also will deny the special allegation of using a knife in the crime.
Lee, who cofounded the mobile payment service provider Cash App, was stabbed to death in the Rincon Hill neighborhood early on April 4.
Authorities have said Momeni, 38, of Emeryville, California, and Lee knew each other and they were in a vehicle shortly before the stabbing.
The district attorney’s office has indicated that the stabbing may have been premeditated.
“This is a person who was in his vehicle with a kitchen knife,” San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said earlier this month. “That’s not something most of us carry around at all times with us.”
Canny said she believes she has evidence to support Momeni’s innocence.
The attorney says she has seen surveillance videos in the case but is still awaiting police reports and the full autopsy report. “I don’t think you can see anything” in the video, Canny said.
Jenkins said Tuesday autopsy reports typically take about 60 days and, in this case, the report is not yet ready.
“We believe that we have sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Momeni murdered Bob Lee,” Jenkins said.
Canny told station KNTV nearly two weeks ago that there is a “much greater back story” than what has been disclosed.
California Secretary of State records indicate that Momeni has been the owner of an IT business. He has been held without bail since his arrest nearly two weeks ago.
Canny said she believes her client is not a danger to the community or a flight risk and will push for bail to be set. Jenkins disagreed. “Certainly somebody that we believe committed murder is an extreme threat to public safety.”
About 20 of Momeni’s family members, including his two teenage children, were in court for the hearing.
Documents from the district attorney’s office have laid out what authorities say preceded the stabbing.
A motion to detain document cites a witness interviewed by police and security camera footage, offering a detailed timeline of where Lee and Momeni were.
A witness, described as a close friend of Lee’s, said he went over to an apartment after being invited by Lee on April 3, where Lee was drinking with a woman later identified as Momeni’s sister, the document states.
The witness told police the woman was married but her “relationship was possibly in jeopardy,” and the witness was unsure whether the woman and Lee had an intimate relationship, according to the document. Lee later told the witness that they were going to go to his hotel room, where he invited the woman but she declined.
While at the hotel room, the witness said Lee was having a conversation with Momeni, which involved Momeni saying he was picking up his sister from the apartment Lee and the witness were previously at, according to the document. Momeni asked Lee “whether his sister was doing drugs or anything inappropriate,” the document states. Lee had told Momeni nothing inappropriate happened, according to the document.
After the conversation with Momeni, Lee and the witness went to Lee’s apartment until about 12:30 a.m. on April 4, when Lee left, the document says.
Surveillance footage shows Momeni arriving at his sister’s apartment building in a white BMW around 8:30 p.m. on April 3, and later shows Lee entering the building around 12:39 a.m. on April 4. A little after 2 a.m., security footage shows Lee and Momeni entering an elevator together and getting into Momeni’s BMW. Additional footage from the area shows the two driving in the car together.
Video then shows the BMW drive to a “dark and secluded area” on Main Street, just out of view for the video to see the interaction between the two men, per the document.
Eventually, the two subjects, who are unidentifiable by their faces but seem to be wearing the same clothing, appear back in frame. After about five minutes, the subject wearing a white-colored top, consistent with what Momeni appeared to be wearing, “suddenly move(s) toward the other subject,” the document says. The two subjects then separate.
The subject in dark-colored clothing, who authorities believe to be Lee, walks northbound, while the subject in the light-colored clothing walks south and stops along a fence, where a knife was ultimately recovered, the document says. The BMW then “leaves at a high rate of speed,” the document states.
An autopsy later found Lee was “stabbed three separate times, once in the hip and twice in the chest,” according to the documents. One of the stab wounds “directly penetrated” Lee’s heart, causing his death.
A kitchen knife was found near the scene, District Attorney Jenkins said in a news conference, adding the department had “proof beyond a reasonable doubt that (Momeni) committed murder.”
On April 11, investigators found a text message from Momeni’s sister to Lee that showed the sister checking in on Lee, according to the motion to detain document. The text message, per the document, stated: “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.”
Meanwhile, additional details in an August 2022 incident involving a woman and Momeni were made available in a police report, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Monday.
Police in Emeryville cited and released Momeni on a misdemeanor battery charge after a woman reported he attacked her, the newspaper reported, citing documents obtained in a public records request. CNN has requested the documents and reached out to Emeryville police.
The woman, whose name was redacted from the report, and Momeni reportedly got into an argument the afternoon of August 1, 2022, according to the police report.
Momeni denied the allegation when questioned by responding officers.
The woman told police that Momeni was prone to behavior shifts, the Chronicle reported, telling them that “one minute he will be fine and the next he will go off for no reason.”
In a statement to CNN on Monday, Momeni’s attorney Canny said, “It is only a police report.”
“There was no arrest. There was no case filed – the Alameda County District Attorney refused to prosecute,” she said.
The Alameda County District Attorney’s office confirmed to CNN last week it did not file charges but declined to say why or give more detail.
In the police report, the woman said she met Momeni a week earlier and he allowed her to stay on his couch in exchange for cleaning the residence, the Chronicle says, adding she told officers that she and Momeni were not dating.
The woman told police that earlier in the day, she had been in the loft’s kitchen when Momeni came downstairs and yelled for her to collect her belongings and leave, the Chronicle reports.
“Momeni forcefully grabbed her right upper arm and her right side waist area,” Officer Johnson wrote in the report, according to the Chronicle. “He then pushed her against a counter.”
He denied the allegation to police, according to the newspaper, and a roommate told police that he didn’t see violence and that the woman appeared to be the aggressor.
Momeni told officers he wanted to pursue charges against the woman for pushing him the day before when they had also argued, the report says, according to the Chronicle.