Lawyers to Tyrese Haspil, a man accused of killing Fahim Saleh, a 33-year-old tech mogul claim leaks from the NYPD are endangering their client’s “right to a fair trial.”
Haspil is accused of killing Saleh, a 2005 John Jay High School graduate and chief executive officer of Gokada – a ride-hailing motorcycle startup in Nigeria.
Haspil, Saleh’s 21-year-old executive assistant, is charged with second-degree murder. He plead not guilty this past weekend in Manhattan court, according to his representation from The Legal Aid Society. His next court appearance is scheduled for Aug. 17. The Brooklyn man from Long Island is being held without bail.
Police say Haspil assaulted Saleh with a Taser around 1:45 p.m. July 13 as Saleh exited an elevator and entered his seventh-floor apartment on East Houston Street on the Lower East Side.
Saleh was found the following day by a cousin with his hands, arms and head amputated, police said, and an electric saw was found still plugged in in the luxury condo.
Prosecutors have released video surveillance video depicting a person believed to be Haspil purchasing the saw and cleaning supplies found at the apartment.
Another video has been discussed in media reports citing unnamed law enforcement officials in which Saleh is pictured exiting his elevator, followed by a man dressed entirely in black, and a struggle ensued. Unnamed sources have also been used to delve into various other aspects of the case by news organizations based in the tri-state area.
Such reported leaks, The Legal Aid Society said, “are emblematic of a culture within the police department to rush to judgment and strip individual citizens of their fundamental right to a fair and impartial jury,” according to a statement Monday, saying Haspil’s “Constitutional rights are in peril — namely his presumption of innocence, his right to due process, and ultimately his critical right to a fair trial before a jury of his fellow New Yorkers.”
Haspil handled finances and personal matters for Saleh, whose ventures included the ride-hailing service Gokada. Police have said it is believed Haspil owed Saleh “a significant amount of money.”
Saleh’s LinkedIn biography described him as a self-taught businessman who founded Gokada, building on his experience of first “seeing an opportunity in his parent’s native country of Bangladesh” and starting that country’s largest ride-sharing company. It said he also invested in a similar venture in Colombia.
Saleh listed Poughkeepsie as his hometown on his Facebook page, but according to Journal archives, he lived in Hopewell Junction. He started his first tech venture out of his parents’ Dutchess County home, before his attended Bentley University in Massachusetts.
Officers responding to the cousin’s 911 call on July 14 discovered Saleh’s clothed torso, bags containing a head and arms and an electric saw in the living room of his apartment on the Lower East Side, police said.
Saleh was stabbed five times in the neck and torso and had wounds on his arm and left hand. He was dismembered just below the knees, at both shoulders and the neck, according to court papers.
In a statement issued to news sources over the weekend by Legal Aid Society attorneys Sam Roberts and Neville Mitchell, the group said the investigation is still in “the very earliest stages,” and will be “long and complex. The attorneys said they “urge the public to keep an open mind.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.