Nima Momeni appears in court
Nima Momeni appears in court (Photo: Licensed with the Associated Press)

Emeryville Resident Nima Momeni enters Not Guilty Plea in Murder of Tech Executive

2 mins read

As expected, Besler Lofts resident Nima Momeni has pled not guilty to the murder of tech executive Bob Lee at a court appearance today after several postponements.

Momeni is accused of killing Lee in the early hours of April 4 and he was arrested at his Emeryville loft 9 days later on April 13. An S.F. Superior court judge ruled that he will be kept in custody because of a potential threat to public safety.

Momeni has retained notable criminal defense attorney Paula Canny who has represented other high-profile defendants including Greg Anderson, who was at the center of the BALCO steroid scandal with Major League Baseball player Barry Bonds, as well as the wife of former S.F. Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi in her domestic violence case.

Canny has gone on the offense through the media attempting to plant seeds of doubt that the killing was premeditated or that the man in the surveillance video showing the altercation with Lee was Momeni. Lee’s autopsy revealed alcohol, cocaine and ketamine in his system. Canny likened Lee’s toxicology report to the “Walgreens of recreational drugs,” a comment she later apologized for.

Independent online news publisher Mission Local, who broke the story of Momeni’s arrest, continues to provide gripping details of the crime and those involved in the case. Today, ML reporter Eleni Balakrishnan revealed that Momeni had retained Canny prior to his arrest possibly indicating that he likely knew his arrest was eminent.

“In the course of my career, I think most people I represent who are charged with crimes are good,” Canny noted in this recent Mission Local profile of her. “They may have a flaw that’s a consequence, usually, of some trauma.”



The “trauma” in Momeni’s case was detailed in another ML piece on his early life as an Albany High School student.

Momeni and his family came to the U.S. from Iran in 1999 on a travel visa and immediately sought asylum.

A former girlfriend of Momeni detailed stories he told her of physical abuse by his father back in Iran and Momeni’s hatred toward him. “I definitely think that that created a monster,” she assessed of him.

Momeni and his sister Khazar are shown side-by-side in the Albany High year book photos and are just 11 months apart in age. Momeni is not a U.S. citizen and faces possible deportation back to Iran according to his attorney.

The deep-dive into Momeni’s past reveals recent accounts by friends that detailed a spiral into drug abuse including anonymous comments about his alleged interactions and mistreatment of sex-workers.

It was recently revealed by The SF Chronicle that Momeni had at least one run-in with the Emeryville Police Department who cited him for a misdemeanor battery of a female acquaintance. The woman in the report alleged that Momeni “may be bi-polar,” describing his sudden mood swings.

The D.A.’s office opted to not pursue charges against Momeni in this incident.


Lee’s background has also been scrutinized by the media with this WSJ article detailing his “underground life of sex and drugs.” The narrative behind Momeni’s motive for allegedly murdering Lee seems to be centered around Lee’s exposure of Momeni’s sister to this underground world of drug-use and partying.

The case has transfixed the region and received broad national media attention.

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Rob Arias

is a third generation Californian and East Bay native who lived in Emeryville from 2003 to 2021. Rob founded The E'ville Eye in 2011 after being robbed at gunpoint and lamenting the lack of local news coverage. Rob's "day job" is as a creative professional.

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