NEW YORK – A former personal assistant to a successful tech entrepreneur, who was charged with beheading and dismembering him inside the victim’s luxurious apartment over the summer on the Lower East Side, has pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder.
Tyrese Haspil was charged with allegedly murdering CEO Fahim Saleh in his apartment on July 13. This one day before his body was found.
No further details about the court were released Tuesday. The defense accepted the prosecutors’ request for a DNA sample and a follow-up hearing was scheduled for mid-January.
Prosecutors say they believe the motive for the crime may be financial, and charged 21-year-old Brooklyn resident Haspil with stealing more than $ 50,000 from Saleh. The indictment revealed Tuesday further explained those allegations.
The prosecution affirms that Saleh “witnessed a crime committed on a previous occasion and the death was caused with the purpose of avoiding the testimony of the victim in any criminal action or proceeding, whether said action or proceeding was initiated or not”. The prosecution did not indicate that the alleged “crime” was anything other than the alleged robbery, and charged Haspil with three separate counts of grand theft in the second degree to clarify that point.
Haspil allegedly stole more than $ 50,000 from Saleh via Intuit and PayPal transfers starting in 2017. PayPal transfers continued until four days after Saleh’s death. The murder, itself, was gruesome, documented by surveillance cameras and eyewitness accounts.
Surveillance footage showed how on the day of the crime in July, Saleh climbed into the building’s elevator, located on East Houston Street, while a suspect in dark clothing followed him, police sources said. Saleh was attacked as soon as he got off on the seventh floor, which opened directly to his apartment, according to sources. His body was not discovered until the next day when the relative went to see how he was.
Saleh’s head, arms and legs had been cut off and body parts found in bags. An electric saw was close to the body and was still plugged into the outlet, but there was not much blood at the scene. Investigators believe that the visit of the victim’s family member interrupted the dismemberment and the murderer would have escaped through the service door.
Police were able to identify Haspil with anti-criminal identification cards that were thrown like confetti at Saleh’s apartment after Saleh was stunned with a stun gun, police sources said.
Haspil was captured a few days later, allegedly when he was hiding in a fancy $ 18,000 AirBnb location on Crosby Street in NoHo, less than a mile from the crime scene. Investigators believe he may have murdered Saleh on July 13 and then tried to dispose of the remains the next day.
Haspil was captured in footage from a Home Depot camera in Flatiron buying the saw and cleaning supplies found at the crime scene, according to the criminal complaint.
His lawyers previously warned that they were quick to try the case saying: “We are in the first states to discover the truth. The lifting of this case promises to be long and complex.”
“We urge the public to keep an open mind. There is much more to this narrative than the indictments, an arrest by the police and a charge by the District Attorney,” they said.