• Nima Momeni pleaded not guilty to charges that he murdered Cash App founder Bob Lee, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
  • Momeni entered the plea at an arraignment on Thursday in San Francisco state court.
  • San Francisco prosecutors had charged Momeni after his arrest last month in Emeryville, California.

Tech consultant Nima Momeni pleaded not guilty on Thursday to San Francisco prosecutors' charge of murder in the killing of Cash App founder Bob Lee last month in downtown San Francisco. 

Momeni entered the plea at an arraignment in San Francisco state court, according to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle. The hearing is one of the first steps in the early stages of the court proceedings.

Prosecutors in the city said last month that Momeni was charged with murder "with an allegation that he personally used a deadly weapon (knife) in the commission of this crime," according to a statement then by San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins. That development had followed a more than weeklong hunt by police for a suspect in Lee's death.

An autopsy report by the San Francisco Office of the Chief Medical Examiner had indicated that Lee died from multiple stab wounds after efforts by doctors at the San Francisco General Hospital were unable to save him. 

It is very common — almost the default — for defendants to plead not guilty early in a case, when the defense is still trying to learn more information from prosecutors, said Lauren Johnson, a defense attorney in Irvine, California. Johnson isn't involved in the case, and spoke generally. 

"It would be nearly unheard of, with a lawyer and with these types of charges, for anyone to walk into their arraignment and enter a guilty plea, because the defense doesn't know what the evidence is against the suspect, or what the punishment would be," Johnson said. 

Arraignment hearings are usually when defendants formally hear the charges against them, and enter a plea. Defendants also have the opportunity to ask the court to set bail. 

Nima Momeni's sister, Khazar Elyassnia, was in court on Thursday. Foto: Godofredo A. Vásquez/AP.

In court filings last month, prosecutors said that they had evidence that Momeni and Lee had a fraught conversation involving Momeni's sister, Khazar Elyassnia.

They alleged at the time that Momeni grilled Lee about Momeni's sister socializing with Lee. This month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Lee was having an affair with Momeni's sister, citing Lee's friends. 

Lee and Momeni's discussions allegedly took a turn on the morning of April 4, when a person appearing to be Momeni in video footage seemed to "suddenly move" toward another who appeared to be Lee, per video obtained by police, according to prosecutors' court filings

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