SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — The lead defense attorney for Bob Lee’s accused killer apologized to the tech mogul’s family Thursday after describing Lee as “the Walgreens of recreational drugs.”
Prosecutors said Lee spent hours hanging out with friends in luxury apartments and hotel rooms before he was brutally stabbed and left to die alone in a San Francisco street on April 4.
The 43-year-old Cash App founder is survived by his ex-wife, two daughters, father, and brother.
Nima Momeni was charged with murder. Momeni’s defense attorney, Paula Canny, wrote an apology on Thursday stating, “I apologize for my remarks to the press following Tuesday’s court appearance, especially to Bob Lee’s family, friends, and loved ones. I regret that I characterized the autopsy toxicology screen in such an insensitive and cavalier way. I was out of line and wrong. I am sorry.”
Canny held a fiery press conference Tuesday in the San Francisco courthouse for a dozen Bay Area news reporters covering her client’s court appearance. (Video of Tuesday’s press conference is above).
Reporters peppered Canny with questions about why Momeni still had not entered a plea despite four court appearances, as well as questions about a toxicology report released just hours earlier. Canny said, “There’s a lot of drugs in Bob Lee’s system. I mean, Bob Lee’s system is like the Walgreens of recreational drugs. Every recreational drug that a person could take was in (Bob Lee’s) system.”
San Francisco’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner released Lee’s toxicology and autopsy report to KRON4 and other news stations in response to Public Records Act requests. It revealed that the Cash App founder had multiple “party drugs” in his system when he slain. A chief forensic toxicologist took blood samples from Lee’s body and detected: cocaine; ketamine and norketamine, also known as “Special K”; and alcohol.
On Tuesday, Canny said the toxicology report will impact the murder case, adding, “That’s crazy that someone is running around on cocaine, ketamine. He didn’t die of a drug overdose. But put on your thinking cap. What happens when people take drugs? What do drug people act like? Not themselves … kind of losery, and make bad decisions and do bad things.”
“I mean, who is on drugs here right now?” Canny asked reporters. “Anybody? Not me!”
Lee was an admired, popular, and successful figure in the Bay Area tech industry.
Leading up to the killing, Lee hung out and drank with Momeni’s younger sister, Khazar Elyassnia, as well as other friends, prosecutors wrote in court documents. One of the hangouts happened inside an apartment on Mission Street near Van Ness Avenue, court documents show. The apartment is home to a suspected drug dealer, according The San Francisco Standard. A witness saw Momeni confront Lee about whether the tech mogul was doing drugs with Elyassnia or anything else “inappropriate.”
District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said when San Francisco Police Department detectives were piecing together clues and evidence to make an arrest in the case, Elyassnia was established as the link between the victim and accused killer.
Jenkins said Lee’s illicit drug use has no significance to the murder case. The district attorney said, “Whatever that toxicology test may show, Mr. (Nima) Momeni is guilty of murder. Regardless of whether somebody has, or has not done drugs, that does not give someone a license to kill them.”
Prosecutors say Momeni stabbed Lee in the heart just after 2:30 a.m. The tech executive’s death was classified as a homicide stabbing.
Both Canny and Jenkins were irked by the Chief Medical Examiner’s decision to release the toxicology report to the media before showing it to attorneys involved in the case.
Jenkins told reporters at her news conference, “It bothers me that it was provided to you before it was provided to us. He has children who should not have to learn about these things through the press.”
Jenkins said Lee’s family plans to continue attending every court appearance for Momeni as they wait for justice.
Elyassnia showed up for Momeni’s first court appearance on April 14. She has never returned to the courthouse because she felt traumatized by media cameras swarming her, the defense attorney said.
Momeni, 38, of Emeryville, remains behind bars in a San Francisco Jail with no bail. He is expected to enter a plea during his fifth court appearance on May 18. Canny said Momeni will plead not guilty.