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Killer of Gokada CEO murdered him over fear girlfriend would leave him if she found out he’d been stealing to fund his lifestyle

GOKADA

The assistant to the CEO of Gokada killed the business mogul out of “unconditional love” for his girlfriend because he feared that she would leave him if she found he was funding their lavish life by embezzling from his boss, his attorney argued Friday, June 21.

Fahim Saleh, the CEO of Nigeria-based motorbike startup Gokada, was butchered in his Lower East Side apartment in July 2020 by his assistant Tyrese Haspil.

Haspil’s love for his girlfriend drove him to suffer an “extreme emotional disturbance” and butcher Saleh in order to hide his theft of nearly half a million dollars, defence attorney Sam Roberts told jurors in his closing arguments at his client Manhattan murder trial.

Roberts said Haspil’s girlfriend “is the first person to whom he’s been attached in any way in 19 years — unconditional love.”

The 25-year-old personal assistant testified that he killed Saleh because he knew it meant he wouldn’t have to pay him back, and that his girlfriend wouldn’t find out that he was stealing from Saleh to fund their relationship.

He is admitting to the killing and blaming his love obsession so as to get the first degree-murder charges downgraded to second-degree manslaughter.

His attorney told jurors in Manhattan Supreme Court he was ecstatic about Marine Chaveuz, a French foreign exchange, and showered her with weekend getaways for her friends and designer items, the attorney argued.

He feared she would “abandon” him as others had done in his life, and so he went for things like helicopter rides to the airport and a posh apartment, Roberts said.

“He essentially transitions into the role of paying for her love,” Roberts said, after showing jurors pictures of receipts from Louis Vuitton and other pricey items that Haspil purchased for Chaveuz.

Haspil’s embezzlement-fueled romance tab eventually grew to $400,000 by May 2020, said prosecutors who accused him of simply killing Saleh because he feared being outed and losing the lifestyle he had built with the embezzled cash.

“Tyrese Haspil murdered Fahim Saleh because [Saleh] stood between Tyrese Haspil and what he wanted,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Linda Ford said.

“Tyrese Haspil gets what he wants. Let me rephrase that — he takes what he wants.”

Haspil, who prosecutors say premeditated the gruesome murder, was living above his budget by flaunting a fake lifestyle that he knew wasn’t going to last.

“He takes a helicopter to JFK instead of taking the Airtain. He lives in a luxury building with a gym, not a fourth-floor walkup,” Ford said, adding that Haspil “does it all with Fahim’s money” until Saleh became a “threat to that lifestyle.”

Haspil’s attorneys have argued that Chaveuz was due to return to France a year before the murder, but her stay was extended which left him thrilled but also realizing he had to keep stealing from Saleh.

Haspil testified earlier in the trial that he contemplated suicide but ultimately decided on killing Saleh, the CEO of motorbike startup Gokada, so that he could buy some time and give Chaveuz the perfect birthday before she was to return to France later in the summer.

And when it came to her birthday on July 19, it pushed Haspil to steal $27,739 between July 12 and July 14, 2020 because he wanted to give her the best birthday yet, his attorney claimed.

“He’s not occupied with getting away with murder. He’s occupied with buying gold birthday balloons,” Roberts said.

But prosecutors weren’t buying the excuse for the killing, saying Haspil’s greed supercedes finding his one true love.

“He’s taking Ubers to high school,” Ford said, a reference to Haspil’s earlier admission to embezzling $20,000 from a Moe’s Southwestern Grill he once worked at before making a fake resume to land a job with Saleh.

The first-degree murder charges against Haspil carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years to life behind bars if he is convicted.

If his attorneys can convince the jury to buy into the emotional disturbance defense, it would downgrade the charges to manslaughter, which carries just five to 25 years.

He also faces grand larceny, burglary and other charges for stealing from Saleh.

Haspil’s attorneys have argued that his tough childhood of living with an abusive mother and moving between several homes caused him to have abandonment issues which explains why he had to prove his worth to Chaveuz.

But prosecutors told the jury that those claims weren’t worth buying.

“This is not about the birthday party,” Ford said, while recognizing Haspil’s childhood.

“This is about murdering Fahim Saleh because he was a witness… it’s a simple as that.”

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