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Bob Lee killing: What to expect in Nima Momeni’s trial

Bob Lee’s alleged killer is set to appear in court Thursday as the case moves closer to trial. The case could include testimony from Khazar Momeni, his sister.

Nima Momeni, left, and Bob Lee, right.
Nima Momeni, left, has been charged with Bob Lee’s killing and will appear in court as his trial gets underway. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard; Drew Altizer Photography

In the days after Bob Lee was found stabbed on a sidewalk a year ago, his killing served as a Rorschach test for everyone with an opinion about whether San Francisco was in a doom loop.

While officials insisted this was an isolated act in a city with a historically low murder rate, pundits around the country argued the homicide was just another sign of the lawlessness supposedly enveloping San Francisco, where extreme wealth and crushing poverty exist side by side.

The latter voices went quiet as the facts became known. Lee’s suspected killer, Nima Momeni, allegedly confronted Lee in a premeditated act, leading the DA to charge him with first-degree murder.

A group of people, including a man gesturing, stand outside a courtroom surrounded by reporters with microphones.
Saam Zangeneh, a lawyer for Nima Momeni, center, talks to the media outside the courtroom in San Francisco on Thursday, January 25, 2024. | Source: Jason Henry for The Standard

Over the course of the last year, Momeni has swapped defense teams, asked for a change in venue, believing he could not receive a fair trial in San Francisco, and posed in his prison cell for photos that were later published by The Standard.

Since Lee was killed, much has been revealed about what happened on the night of the slaying and the circumstances that led up to the fatal stabbing.

Today, Momeni appeared in a San Francisco court where a trial judge was assigned to the case. The trial now is expected to begin this summer.

Here is what we know about Momeni, Lee and the case

Bouquets of flowers are placed against a tree on a city sidewalk, likely a memorial, with a person walking in the background.
A pedestrian passes memorial flowers left on the 400 block of Main St. where former Square CTA Bob Lee was stabbed on Wednesday, April 5, 2023. | Source: Noah Berger for The Standard

On April 4, 2023, Bob Lee, the Cash App founder, was found stabbed under the foot of the Bay Bridge. After Lee died of his wounds, video footage emerged showing Lee stumbling and asking passing cars for help. 

Many jumped to the conclusion that the killing was a senseless act, perhaps a robbery gone bad, or an encounter with a mentally ill or homeless person. But as the facts became known, they defied those easy tropes. Within weeks, police had arrested a man who did not fit the outraged narrative. Momemi, who himself worked in tech, was arrested at his Emeryville home and charged with murder.

Prosecutors alleged that Lee and Momeni left Millennial Tower—the home of the defendant’s sister—and then went together to a secluded area under the Bay Bridge where Momeni stabbed Lee twice with a kitchen knife. 

Surveillance photo of Bob Lee and Nima Momeni in an elevator.
A still image 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 in Downtown San Francisco. | Source: Superior Court documents

The other details from court documents painted a picture of Lee as part of a high-flying party crowd that flouted societal norms and behaved as if the rules did not apply to them.

The day before his death, Lee, Momeni’s sister and others were partying at the house of Lee’s alleged drug dealer, Jeremy Boivin. That is where, according to court documents, Momeni’s sister, Khazar Momeni, woke up nearly nude and in a daze after taking drugs provided by Boivin. Another woman helped Khazar Momeni contact her husband and brother, who then took her home. 

Later that day, an angry Momeni contacted Lee and chastised him for encouraging Khazar to do “inappropriate” things at Boivin’s home, according to court documents.

Two focused people, one man on the left and one woman on the right, stand side by side in a beige interior setting.
Nima Momeni’s sister Khazar Momeni, right, walks with her husband Dr. Dino Elyassnia at the Hall of Justice before Nima Momeni’s hearing in San Francisco, on June 13, 2023. | Source: Isaac Ceja/The Standard

Police found messages on Lee’s phone from Khazar indicating that her brother was upset at Lee. 

Momeni’s attorneys have argued that the facts of the case do not point to a cold-blooded killing. They have also claimed that if Momeni had anger toward anyone for what happened to his sister, it was toward Boivin.

The trial is expected to include testimony from police officers who investigated the case, such as homicide investigator Brent Dittmer, but also Khazar Momeni and her plastic surgeon husband, Dr. Dino Elyassnia.

Other witnesses could include everyone who spent any time with Lee in the hours before his death. That would include Boivin, the woman who called Khazar Momeni’s husband and brother that day, and friends of Lee.

Before anyone testifies, a jury must be selected. As in other high-profile trials, it may be a challenge. The defense and prosecutors will have to agree on impartial jurors who have not been swayed by media coverage or hold their own opinions or prejudices about the case. Perhaps most critically, they will have to keep an open mind about whether Bob Lee’s killing is a symbol of everything wrong with San Francisco, or an isolated, senseless act of violence.

Jonah Owen Lamb can be reached at