SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Bob Lee’s ex-wife sat in the front row of a San Francisco courtroom and listened to 12 hours of testimony. “It still stings,” Krista Lee told KRON4 Tuesday during a brief break from a preliminary hearing.
She put on a strong face while police officers testified on the stand about grisly details, including how the Cash App founder was stabbed in the heart, staggered along Main Street bleeding at 2:30 a.m. April 4, and tried in vain to find help.
Krista Lee told reporters, “Unfortunately I think he might have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. We will find out more as (the case) progresses. I certainly hope that someday we all get a motive. Will we ever? I don’t know. Does the family deserve that? His children certainly do.”
Bob Lee, 43, was a star in the Bay Area tech industry and the CEO of MobileCoin when his life came to a sudden and tragic end.
His accused killer, Nima Momeni, attentively watched surveillance videos played by prosecutors for the preliminary hearing.
The videos show 38-year-old Momeni was the last person seen with Bob Lee alive. In one video from Millennium Tower’s security camera, Bob Lee steps into Momeni’s white BMW sports car. As Momeni graciously opens the passenger-side door for Bob Lee, Momeni is secretly armed with a knife, prosecutors said.
The two-day preliminary hearing concluded when Judge Harry Dorfman ruled there’s enough evidence for the murder case to move forward to a trial. The judge spoke to Momeni directly when he said, “A decision was made to kill. Nima Momeni, I am satisfied that the only crime charged, murder, did occur and that you are responsible for it.”
Momeni has pleaded not guilty.
Toxicology reports, court documents, and witnesses revealed that in the hours leading up to the homicide, Bob Lee attended several parties with friends, used cocaine, and went to Momeni’s sister’s luxury apartment in Millennium Tower at midnight.
Krista Lee told reporters that beyond splashy headlines in the news, her ex-husband should be remembered for who he was — a loving, respectful, and gentle person. “Bob was an amazing and sweet man,” she said. Even after their divorce in 2019, “Bob and I were very close, we spoke all the time,” Krista Lee said.
Bob Lee is survived by his children, ages 15 and 18. “Our family has been surrounded by support and love,” Krista Lee said.
Motive more complex
Momeni and Bob Lee knew each other through Momeni’s sister, Khazar “Tina” Elyassnia, according to Krista Lee and prosecutors.
“They were acquainted through the sister, Tina. I don’t think they were friends. I never once heard him mention (Momeni’s) name. The fact that he stabbed him multiple times is disgusting,” Krista Lee said.
Potential motives in this murder case became more complex during this week’s preliminary hearing. Early in the investigation, prosecutors filed court documents, claiming Momeni confronted Bob Lee about Khazar on April 3.
At 8:31 a.m. on April 4 — six hours after the killing — Khazar sent a text message to Bob Lee’s cellphone writing, “Just wanted to make sure your doing ok. Cause I know nima came wayyyyyy down hard on you. And thank you for being such a classy man handling it with class. Love you Selfish pricks,” according to court documents.
At the hearing, prosecutor Omid Talai held up Khazar’s text message as evidence that Momeni had a motive to harm Bob Lee.
Talai paraphrased from the text message for the judge, stating, “‘Just want to make sure you’re doing OK.’ Oh, the irony, the sister is checking to make sure that he is doing OK. The next line explains why she is concerned about Bob Lee. ‘Because I know Nima came down way hard on you.’ It gets better. ‘Thank you for being such a classy man.’ She is implying here that he handled himself well. And her brother came down way hard on him.”
After Khazar learned that Bob Lee was dead, and her brother was arrested for murder, she refused to talk to police detectives, according to testimony. SFPD Sgt. Brent Dittmer testified that when he knocked on Khazar’s apartment door in Millennium Tower, “She wanted to speak to her lawyer and refused to speak to me about the case.”
Defense attorney Saam Zangeneh said Momeni harbored no feelings of “malice” toward Bob Lee and had no motive to kill the tech mogul. Zangeneh said, “(Prosecutors) think this was an honor killing because of allegations of sexual wrong-doing.” Bob Lee never sexually assaulted Khazar, the defense said.
Alleged Death Threat
Just hours before Bob Lee was stabbed to death, Momeni threatened to kill another man who showed up at Khazar’s apartment on April 3, according to testimony. Momeni’s death threat was made toward a suspected drug dealer, Jeremy Boivin, Sgt. Dittmer testified.
In the early morning hours of April 3, Bob Lee attended an after-party hosted by Khazar in her luxury Millennium Tower apartment, according to testimony. That afternoon, Bob Lee and Khazar attended a second after-party hosted by Boivin in his San Francisco apartment.
Boivin gave Khazar and her female friend GHB, also known as a “date rape drug,” Zangeneh said.
Dittmer testified that the friend became sick and passed out. When she regained consciousness, she found Khazar crying and wearing only a bikini. Momeni received a phone call from the female friend asking for help, he picked up Khazar, and he took her back to Millennium Tower, according to testimony.
On the night of April 3, Boivin arrived at Khazar’s apartment. Momeni was enraged and threw him out, Sgt. Dittmer said. “Mr. Momeni was behaving in a threatening demeanor and saying, ‘f**k you. I’ll kill you,'” the sergeant testified.
Meanwhile, Bob Lee was back in his hotel room at 1 Hotel with a friend. The friend told police that just before midnight on April 3, Bob Lee said he was going to walk to Khazar’s apartment. Khazar texted Bob Lee her apartment number, but also added, “Babe I want to pass out,” according to prosecutors.
Surveillance videos played in court for the hearing show Bob Lee arriving at Millennium Tower, riding an elevator up, and then leaving with Momeni in a white BMW around 2 a.m. on April 4. Security cameras on Main Street show the victim bleeding and collapsing in the street at 2:36 a.m.
Will Khazar testify at trial?
Judge Harry Dorfman ruled that the case will move forward to a murder trial. The only witnesses who testified for this week’s preliminary hearing were San Francisco Police Department officers who gathered key evidence, including a bloody knife.
Khazar did not attend the preliminary hearing. She refused to talk to homicide detectives. But she will likely be called in to testify at trial, according to defense attorneys.
Momeni’s four attorneys said their defense strategy and witness list at trial will be very different compared to the hearing. “What you don’t know is our defense strategy, and you won’t know that until the trial,” Zangeneh told reporters outside the courtroom Tuesday. “At a trial, we are going to have experts. There’s going to be a lot more that we do. When it matters, is at trial.”
“Only an idiot would show you what cards they are holding in a poker game,” defense attorney Bradford Cohen told reporters. “It’s not like we can sit here and tell you what the defense is going to be.”
The judge ordered Momeni to return to court on August 15 to re-enter a “not guilty” plea.