For the past seven months, Bob Lee's alleged killer, Nima Momeni, has been awaiting trial in a solitary jail cell in San Bruno. Since he was arrested in April, the only visitor he’s had in the lockup at 1 Moreland Drive beside his attorneys has been his mother.
He sought, unsuccessfully, to be released on bail in the fatal stabbing of the tech executive under the Bay Bridge in San Francisco. The only times Momeni has been allowed to leave the jail are for periodic court hearings—the next of which will be Thursday, when a trial date may finally be set in the murder case that transfixed San Francisco and much of the country.
Otherwise, Momeni has been confined to an isolation cell with a metal toilet, a bunk bed and a desk.
How Momeni has been preparing for his defense with his legal team remains unclear. However, photos captured of Momeni in the jail and obtained by The Standard give some clues as to how he’s spent the last seven months waiting for the wheels of justice to turn.
In one of the images taken on Aug. 3, he stands upright with his arms closed, his chest out, beside a desk piled with books. In another, he peers through the security glass, smiling. In all of them, he wears his jail-issued orange-colored sweatshirt and pants.
In Momeni’s cell, his desk, below a few pieces of art and a calendar, is covered in books.
Among the books are a biography of Napoleon Bonaparte by Andrew Roberts titled Napoleon: a Life, a book by mythologist Joseph Campbell and a book on psychology.
According to the sheriff, Momeni’s sole visitor, besides his lawyers, was his mother, Mahnaz Tayarani—who came to the jail once soon after his arrest on April 13, more than a week after Lee was fatally stabbed on April 4.
Who Will Testify in the Murder Trial?
Momeni declined a request to be interviewed, and his attorneys declined to answer questions about their strategy for the upcoming trial and how they have been preparing with their client, and what, if anything, he might say on the stand.
Prosecutors have alleged that Momeni took Lee, the Cash App founder, to a secluded street under the Bay Bridge in the early morning hours of April 4 and stabbed him twice with a kitchen knife, leading to his death hours later in a hospital.
Momeni has been charged with murder.
Momeni was upset, prosecutors have argued, because Lee encouraged Momeni’s sister, Khazar Momeni, to do “inappropriate” things the day before at the home of Lee’s alleged drug dealer, Jeremy Boivin, according to court documents.
But Momeni’s attorneys have argued in filings that the facts of the case do not amount to a cold-blooded killing.
The coming trial could include many of the people who were with Lee in his last hours, including Khazar Momeni and her husband, as well as expert witnesses, Tony Brass, one of Momeni’s attorneys, said in October.
“It’s essential for us to give the complete story,” Brass said. “We are not trying to hide anything. If anything, we are trying to tell a complete story about how this incident occurred.”
Brass, the local attorney on the case—which has been led by Florida-based lawyers Saam Zangeneh and Bradford Cohen, who do not practice law in California—said that once a date has been set, each side has to share their witnesses with each other.
The other expected witnesses, Brass said, include everyone who spent any time with Lee in the hours before his death. That would include Boivin, who witnesses said gave Khazar Momeni drugs the day before Lee was killed during a party at Boivin's apartment where Lee was present. The woman who called Khazar Momeni’s husband and brother to come and get her from the party could also testify.
“We are trying to establish the relationship between Bob and Boivin,” Brass said. “He’s the designer drug dealer to the stars.”