Silicon Valley exec Bob Lee had cocaine, ketamine in his body, autopsy shows
Silicon Valley executive Bob Lee, a revered coder who was stabbed to death in San Francisco last month, had cocaine, ketamine and alcohol in his body when he died, according to an autopsy report released by the city medical examiner’s office.
The report confirms the initial findings by local police that Lee, 43, died on 4 April of multiple stab wounds and classifies the death as a homicide.
Nima Momeni, the 38-year-old owner of a small IT firm, is charged with murdering Lee with a kitchen knife on a downtown street late at night.
Momeni’s arraignment was postponed on Tuesday for the third time at the request of his attorney, Paula Canny, who said she needs more time for legal preparation. It is now set for 18 May in San Francisco Superior Court.
Canny has previously said that evidence cited by prosecutors doesn’t support a premeditated murder charge, and that Momeni will plead not guilty.
Prosecutors have called the slaying “planned and deliberate” and are urging the court not to grant bail and release Momeni ahead of trial.
Lee, who was chief product officer at cryptocurrency startup MobileCoin and previously created Cash App, was revered in the tech world for his coding talents.
A filing by prosecutors last month said a friend of Lee’s who was having drinks with Lee and Momeni’s younger sister the day before the stabbing told investigators he overheard a FaceTime call in which Momeni confronted Lee over whether his interaction with the sister involved “drugs or anything inappropriate” — which Lee denied.
Hours later, surveillance footage showed Momeni and Lee leaving in Momeni’s car from the Millennium Tower luxury high-rise apartment building where the sister lives.
Momeni drove in the opposite direction of Lee’s hotel where, a few blocks away, where both men exited the car, prosecutors said, citing camera footage in the filing. In the next five minutes, Momeni stabbed Lee three times, including one wound in the heart that killed him, before speeding away in his BMW and leaving Lee to slowly die, prosecutors say.
The autopsy report indicates that once Lee was transported to the hospital, doctors tried for four hours to save him before he succumbed to his injuries.
A toxicology report by the medical examiner noted the presence in Lee’s corpse of cocaethylene, a compound that forms from mixing alcohol and cocaine. The examination also detected ketamine, which was originally designed as an anaesthetic, but is also used to treat depression and as a recreational drug, known for producing hallucinogenic effects.
Canny said the toxicology report “absolutely” factors into her defence of Momeni. The defence attorney described Lee’s body as the “Walgreens of recreational drugs”.
“What happens when people take drugs? Generally they act like drug people,” she said, meaning, “not themselves, not happy go lucky, just kind of loserly, and make bad decisions and do bad things”.
San Francisco District Attorney Brooke Jenkins said she hasn’t yet reviewed the autopsy report.
“We are accustomed, as prosecutors, to having the reputations of our victims be denigrated by the defence,” she said. “It is a customary defence tactic. That is normal, sadly, in the work that we do.”
But “regardless of whether somebody has or has not done drugs, that does not give someone a licence to kill them,” Jenkins said. “We believe, regardless of whatever that toxicology report may show, that Mr. Momeni is guilty of murder.” BM/DM