The former executive assistant of Fahim Saleh, co-founder of Pathao, pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges of first-degree murder for allegedly decapitating and dismembering the tech entrepreneur in his luxury New York condo in July.
Tyrese Haspil, 21, entered his not guilty plea via Skype before a state court judge in Manhattan after a grand jury indicted him on upgraded charges of first- and second-degree murder, second-degree grand larceny, second-degree burglary, concealment of a human corpse and tampering with physical evidence, reports CNN quoting the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.
Saleh, 33, who had most recently founded the Manhattan venture capital firm Adventure Capital, was killed in his Manhattan apartment on July 13.
Haspil handled Saleh's finances and personal matters, a law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation said at the time. The assistant allegedly owed Saleh tens of thousands of dollars and was on a repayment plan, according to the official.
Fahim Saleh was an entrepreneur who launched successful tech start-ups in Bangladesh, Nigeria and North America.
Saleh "was a witness to a crime committed on a prior occasion and the death was caused for the purpose of preventing the intended victim's testimony in any criminal action or proceeding, whether or not such action or proceeding had been commenced," read the indictment.
The indictment charges Haspil with three grand larceny counts for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars from Saleh through PayPal and Intuit transfers.
Court documents said a Makita saw, scissors, a knife, gloves and a mask were found in Saleh's apartment, along with bags containing a head and limbs.
"We're contesting everything here, including the circumstances of the death and whether or not they can prove that this young man had anything at all to do with it," said Neville Mitchell, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society's Homicide Defense Task Force, who is representing Haspil.
"This is going to be a vigorous defense for this young man. There are a lot of things that we're investigating that you know we're not prepared to offer at this time in terms of the defense, but there will be a vigorous defense."
Haspil is being held at Rikers Island, according to Mitchell.
The case was adjourned until January 11.
Saleh was found dead the day after he was killed in the living room of his condo on the Lower East Side, police said. His cousin had gone to check on him. His head and limbs were severed.