The knife allegedly used to stab Cash App founder Bob Lee to death wasn’t properly fingerprinted and a potential witness to the murder not properly questioned, defense attorneys charged on Monday.
Lawyers for Nima Momeni, the tech consultant charged with killing the 43-year-old on April 4, pulled San Francisco cops into the crosshairs during a preliminary hearing at the city’s superior court on Monday.
They say crucial evidence, including the kitchen knife used to stab Lee had been mishandled, as it had not been fingerprinted. Defense attorney Saam Zangeneh also charged cops did not properly interview a homeless man who was a potential witness.
“We want to know why police work wasn’t as complete as it could have been. We do wonder why some people weren’t questioned … why we don’t have complete testing,” said Momeni’s other defense attorney, Tony Brass, to reporters outside of the courtroom.
Prosecutors say the two men had argued about the nature of Lee’s relationship with 43-year-old Momeni’s sister, Khazar “Tina” Elyassnia, leading to an argument in the city’s downtown area in the early hours of the morning and the tech founder being stabbed.
San Francisco police officer Cedric Hood took the stand at the evidentiary hearing, which will determine if there is enough evidence for the case to go to trial. He said the homeless man was 40 feet away from where Lee was stabbed and incoherent when he tried to talk to him.
Hood testified he found Lee unresponsive and bleeding uncontrollably from his chest and hip, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Lee later died at a nearby hospital.
Rosalyn Chezk, a crime scene investigator, testified that she swabbed the knife for DNA but did not perform fingerprint testing “to avoid contaminating the DNA analysis.”
According to police, Lee had spent most of April 3 drinking with Khazar Elyassnia. At some point, Lee left Elyassnia and went to the 1 Hotel, where he was staying.
At some point, Momeni confronted Lee and asked if he and his sister were “doing drugs or anything inappropriate,” prosecutors said.
The men were then spotted together on surveillance footage leaving the Millennium Tower — where Elyassnia lives with her husband, a prominent plastic surgeon — in the early hours of April 4.
The photo, released in court papers related to Momeni’s case, is one of a handful of images showing the minutes before Lee was stabbed and left to die.
Lee’s autopsy revealed the Cash App founder had cocaine and ketamine in his system at the time of this death.
After a tense conversation over the phone, Momeni drove Lee to a secluded street and stabbed him with a kitchen knife in a “planned and deliberate” attack, police said.
Around the time of Lee’s death, he received a text from Elyassnia asking if he was okay because “nima came wayyyyyy down hard on you.”
Momeni, 38, described himself on his social media and LinkedIn profiles as the owner of Expand IT, a cyber security and tech firm.
In a letter to the court imploring for his release, Momeni’s mother and sister wrote saying he was always generous and even bought his mom a new BMW just weeks before his arrest.
“When Nima gives, he does not expect something in return,” Elyassnia said of her older brother. “He gives because that is his nature.”
Momeni faces life in prison if convicted of the charges.
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