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Jury in trial of tech CEO Fahim Saleh's killer hears grisly 911 call: 'His head is not there anymore!'

Laura Italiano   

Jury in trial of tech CEO Fahim Saleh's killer hears grisly 911 call: 'His head is not there anymore!'
  • An ex-personal assistant accused in the Gokada CEO's 2020 murder is on trial in NYC.
  • Tyrese Haspil was in the throes of "extreme emotional disturbance," his lawyer told jurors Friday.

A Manhattan jury on Friday heard the harrowing 911 call of a woman who discovered the dismembered body of her cousin, Gokada ride-share CEO Fahim Saleh.

"Oh my God. Oh my God," the woman cries in the 911 call, after finding Saleh's torso facing up in a pool of blood on his living room floor.

"Is he breathing?" the operator asks, to which the woman sobs, "No! His head is missing, his arms are missing, and his legs are missing!"

Saleh, a Bangladeshi-American, was an admired international entrepreneur who had made millions through Gokada, his Nigeria-based motorbike ride-share and delivery service.

Manhattan prosecutors say the tech entrepreneur was murdered and sawed into pieces in July, 2020 by Tyrese Haspil, his embezzling former personal assistant, who acted after weeks of planning.

Security footage — undisputed by the defense — shows Haspil shocking his victim from behind with a Taser as the elevator doors open into Saleh's seventh-floor condominium.

"There was quite a struggle," prosecutor Linda Ford told jurors of Saleh's death by multiple stab wounds.

The defense concedes that Haspil, 25, stole from and then killed and dismembered his ex-boss.

But Haspil suffered an extreme emotional disturbance during the weeks it took to plan, execute, and try to cover up the killing, defense lawyer Sam Roberts told jurors in opening statements Friday.

That "disturbance" lay latent after Haspil's traumatic childhood — and was then triggered by the thought of losing his girlfriend, Marine Chavaux, who was soon to return to her native France, Roberts said.

Realizing that his $400,000 embezzlement had been discovered, but desperate to lavish more gifts on Chavaux in time for her 22nd birthday, a "disturbed" Haspil believed his only options were "suicide or homicide," Roberts told jurors.

Selling this defense may prove a tall order. Prosecutors say Haspil had purchased his Taser a full month before the murder and spent the three days after the murder methodically dismembering his victim and shopping with his victim's credit card at luxury retail stores.

Also on Friday, jurors saw photos of a shopping bag from Christian Louboutin that police recovered from the $18,000-a-month Airbnb where Haspil was arrested.

If the jury believes Haspil's defense, he'd be guilty of manslaughter instead of murder, and would face as little as five years in prison.

The 911 tape

"Miss? Miss? Who's the ambulance for?" the 911 operator asks Saleh's cousin in the recording played Friday.

Prosecutors have referred to the cousin only as "Person 1" in court papers. Business Insider is withholding her name for privacy.

"Fahim Saleh!" she answers between gasps.

"For who?" the operator asks, unable to understand her.

"Fahim Saleh!" the cousin shouts again. "Oh my God. Oh my God."

"Miss, OK, take a deep breath," the operator can be heard telling her.

"His body!" the cousin sobs. "His body is dismembered!"

This is the point where the operator, apparently having trouble understanding, asks if the patient is breathing, and the cousin tells her that Saleh's head, arms, and legs are missing.

"They like — I can't — they like, they cut it off," the cousin sobs.

"Who cut it off?" asked the operator, who has meanwhile dispatched first responders to the scene.

"I don't know!" the cousin gasps. "I just came to check in on him."

"It's just you there, right?" the operator asks.

"I left because honestly it looked — there's just like black garbage bags everywhere," the cousin answers.

Prosecutors told jurors that these bags held Saleh's head and limbs.

"There was an electric saw next to his body," the cousin then tells the operator.

"OK, they're already on their way," the operator says. "OK? Just stay on the line with me. OK? Just try to take deep breaths," she says, before adding — apparently still confused — "So he's passed away though, correct?"

"His head is not there anymore!" the cousin exclaims, breaking into fresh sobs.

"His head is cut off?" asks the now shocked-sounding operator. "Yes," the cousin tells her. "His head is not here."

"They're coming. They're coming," the 911 operator consoles the cousin. "Do you want to wait outside?"

"I can wait inside the lobby," the cousin answers. "Honestly, what if they come back and take his body?"

Extreme-emotional-disturbance defenses are usually reserved for sudden acts of violence, though there are exceptions.

In 2014, wealthy Manhattan socialite Gigi Jordan was found guilty of first-degree manslaughter, not murder, after poisoning her eight-year-old autistic son. Her lawyers argued she acted under extreme emotional distress as she planned and executed the boy's death.

The prosecution case against Haspil continues next week.

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