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Lawyer for Bob Lee murder suspect questions motive, points to drug dealer

Nima Momeni, left, and Bob Lee, right.
Nima Momeni, left, is accused of fatally stabbing MobileCoin CTO Bob Lee. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard; Drew Altizer Photography

Nima Momeni’s attorneys are again asking a San Francisco judge to release the man who has been charged with murder in the fatal stabbing of tech executive Bob Lee. 

Prosecutors allege that Nima Momeni took Lee to a secluded street under the Bay Bridge in the early morning hours of April 4 and stabbed him twice, which resulted in his death hours later in a hospital. 

But Nima Momeni’s attorneys argued in a filing Wednesday that the facts of the case do not amount to a cold-blooded killing and that their client is not a danger to the public. 

Rather, the attorneys say Momeni never acted in a premeditated manner, did not flee after Lee was allegedly stabbed and remained in the Bay Area in the week before his arrest.

four people talk in a corridor
Nima Momeni family members, Mahnaz Tayarani, left, Dr. Dino Elyassnia, center, and Khazar Elyassnia on June 13, 2023. | Source: Justin Katigbak/The Standard

“Mr. Momeni is neither a flight risk nor a threat to the community,” his attorney Saam Zangeneh wrote in his motion for pretrial release. 

Those same arguments have previously failed to convince a judge to release Momeni. 

His attorneys are now offering a list of conditions Momeni would agree to if released. Those conditions include posting a $250,000 bond, wearing an electronic monitoring device, surrendering his passport, taking drug and alcohol tests, and reporting daily to the probation department.

Prosecutors have argued that Momeni stabbed Lee because of his relationship with Khazar Momeni, Nima Momeni’s sister. 

In the hours before the killing, Nima Momeni questioned Lee about whether his sister was doing drugs or “anything inappropriate” after she left the apartment where she had been with Lee on April 3.

Prosecutors presented a text exchange between Lee and Khazar Momeni, which appeared to show that he and Nima Momeni had been arguing before the killing. 

“Just wanted to make sure your doing ok Cause I know nima came wayyyyyy down hard on you (sic),” Khazar Momeni wrote in a text recovered from Lee’s phone. “And thank you for being such a classy man handling it with class Love you Selfish pricks.”

Defense attorney for Nima Momeni, Saam Zangeneh, stands next to Mahnaz Tayarani, the mother of Momeni, in the halls of San Francisco Superior Court on Aug 1, 2023. | Source: Jeremy Chen/The Standard

But Zangeneh said in his bail motion that building a theory of motive based on one text message is inadequate. 

The death of Lee, Zangeneh wrote, was the result of a sudden quarrel between two men who had been otherwise cordial toward each other. Since it was not a premeditated murder, Zangeneh argued, his client should be released on bail. 

The man Nima Momeni should have suspected of inappropriate behavior with his sister was Jeremy Boivin, Lee’s friend and drug dealer, Zangeneh wrote. Khazar Momeni had been found at Boivin’s apartment on April 3 almost naked and distraught after taking drugs, he added. 

Momeni, who remains jailed in San Francisco without bail, is set to appear in court Oct. 2 for the beginning of his trial.

Surveillance photo of Bob Lee and Nima Momeni in an elevator.
A still taken from surveillance footage obtained by The Standard of MobileCoin CTO Bob Lee, top, and Nima Momeni, bottom, during the early morning hours of April 4, 2023. | Source: Superior Court documents

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at