Nima Momeni’s lawyers demand Bob Lee murder trial is moved outside San Francisco, claiming published photos of suspected killer in jail could prejudice jury

Defense attorneys for Nima Momeni are demanding a change of venue for the Bob Lee murder trial after ‘highly prejudicial’ photos of the accused killer locked up in a jail cell were published by a local news outlet.

The request was brought up Thursday morning during a hearing in the San Francisco Hall of Justice, where the judge revealed an investigation into the photos has already been initiated.

‘The minute I saw it I notified the sheriff, and they were looking into all of it,’ Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi assured the lawyers. 

‘The sheriff is taking this very seriously,’ the judge added. 

Defense attorneys for Nima Momeni – pictured in a court sketch Thursday – filed a motion to move his trial outside of San Francisco after the photos of the murder suspect in jail were published in The San Francisco Standard earlier this week 

Momeni - pictured during his arraignment in May - is charged in the April fatal stabbing of Cash App founder Bob Lee

Bob Lee

Momeni – pictured during his arraignment in May – is charged in the April fatal stabbing of Cash App founder Bob Lee

‘There is an internal investigation, there is an external investigation. They have informed me that they are taking care of it.’ 

The defense filed a motion to change the trial’s venue after the photos were published Tuesday in The San Francisco Standard which they argued could prejudice the local jury pool. 

The photos show Momeni, in orange prison fatigues, staring out from his cell, standing in front his bunk bed and by a desk covered with books including one on Napoleon and another on psychology.

A freelance photographer working for the LA Times went to the county jail in San Bruno to take pictures of solitary confinement in August, then sold pictures of Momeni to the San Francisco paper, it is alleged.

‘The cameraman knew not to take those pictures,’ defense lawyer Bradford Cohen said after the hearing. 

‘He was instructed not to take pictures of individuals in those cells, yet he did it anyway. 

‘The article, coupled with those pictures, is one of the most disgusting things I’ve seen in a case where a defendant is innocent until proven guilty,’ he added. 

Momeni’s lawyer Saam Zanganeh filed the motion for the change, arguing that the pictures will make it even harder to get a fair trial.

Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi assured the lawyers that an investigation into the photos is underway

Superior Court Judge Loretta Giorgi assured the lawyers that an investigation into the photos is underway 

At one point during Thursday's hearing Momeni was admonished by the court to 'face forward' after he looked over at his mother, who stood in the front row with her arms lifted in the shape of a heart

At one point during Thursday’s hearing Momeni was admonished by the court to ‘face forward’ after he looked over at his mother, who stood in the front row with her arms lifted in the shape of a heart

Momeni, who is currently being held in San Francisco County jail as he awaits trial, hugged his attorney at the end of the hearing

Momeni, who is currently being held in San Francisco County jail as he awaits trial, hugged his attorney at the end of the hearing 

Mahnaz Tayarani Babai, mother of Cash App killer Nima Momeni leaves court after a hearing with lawyers

Mahnaz Tayarani Babai, mother of Cash App killer Nima Momeni leaves court after a hearing with lawyers

‘Bob Lee is akin to a celebrity in the tech sector and a vast majority of San Franciscans are a part of that industry,’ Zanganeh said. 

‘So it’s kind of like if a Los Angeles Laker is a victim of a homicide. Do you think the defendant will be able to get a fair trial in LA?’

The judge set a hearing for late January to discuss the motion and other business and scheduled the murder trial for March 15.

Momeni’s mother, Mahnaz Tayarani Babai was in court for her son’s appearance. 

He was admonished by the court to ‘face forward’ after he looked over at his mother, who stood in the front row with her arms lifted in the shape of a heart.

Momeni is currently being held in San Francisco County Jail awaiting trial for Lee’s murder. 

The update in the murder case comes after his sister, Khazar Momeni, was seen in new video footage desperately trying to keep herself out of jail on Monday after she slammed into several parked cars – allegedly while high on nitrous oxide.

The clip, obtained and published by DailyMail.com on Thursday, showed the moment San Francisco officers arrested the 38-year-old for a suspected DUI. 

A witness to the exchange told DailyMail.com that Khazar appeared to be ‘as high as hell’. 

Momeni's sister Khazar, who is married to prominent plastic surgeon Dr. Dino Elyassnia, was seen with her husband supporting her brother in court last month

Momeni’s sister Khazar, who is married to prominent plastic surgeon Dr. Dino Elyassnia, was seen with her husband supporting her brother in court last month 

Momeni was taken into custody late Monday morning after she was seen allegedly slamming into multiple parked cars in the Tenderloin district while under the influence of nitrous oxide

Khazar Momeni is married to prominent plastic surgeon Dino Elyassnia

Momeni was taken into custody late Monday morning after she was seen allegedly slamming into multiple parked cars in the Tenderloin district while under the influence of nitrous oxide

Bystander footage also shows what appeared to be a large ‘whippets’ canister in plain view alongside Khazar’s designer handbag on the driver’s seat of her swank car. 

The bizarre episode played out at around 11am Monday on a homeless and drug-infested block of San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, a mile from the luxury condominium that she shares with her plastic surgeon husband, Dino Elyassnia.

She was also booked into the lock-up, charged with driving under the influence, two counts of a hit-and-run, failure to drive within the lane and failure to provide insurance at the scene of an accident. 

Lee allegedly had a casual sexual relationship with her before his April 4 death.

She did not appear to be wearing her wedding ring which had been visible on her finger in October when she attended a court hearing for her brother, who was denied bail for allegedly killing the Cash App founder.

Khazar had been seen flashing her huge ring on the steps outside the court, donning a glamorous all black outfit, large black sunglasses, with her blond hair hanging long on her V-neck blouse. 

During the October 2 hearing, Momeni was denied bail with the judge rejecting the defense argument that he presented no danger to society because he was, at worst, an inept killer.

 Zangeneh argued that his client was not the cold-blooded, premeditated killer depicted by prosecutors. 

Rather, he suggested that the evidence suggests this was a sudden interaction, carried out in the heat of passion.

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