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 out he was funding their lavish lifestyle by embezzling from his boss, his attorney argued on Friday, June 21.

Fahim Saleh, the CEO of Nigeria-based motorbike startup Gokada, was brutally murdered in his Lower East Side apartment in July 2020 by his assistant, Tyrese Haspil. Haspil’s love for his girlfriend drove him to an “extreme emotional disturbance,” leading him to kill Saleh to conceal his theft of nearly half a million dollars, defense attorney Sam Roberts told jurors in his closing arguments at Haspil’s Manhattan murder trial.

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Roberts stated, “He [Haspil] has been attached to her in a way he hasn’t been with anyone in 19 years — unconditional love.”

The 25-year-old assistant confessed to killing Saleh because he believed it meant he wouldn’t have to repay him, and that his girlfriend wouldn’t discover his embezzlement that funded their relationship.

Haspil is admitting to the murder and attributing it to his obsession with his girlfriend to potentially reduce the first-degree murder charges to second-degree manslaughter. His attorney told jurors in Manhattan Supreme Court that Haspil was infatuated with Marine Chaveuz, a French foreign exchange student, and lavished her with weekend getaways and designer items.

Roberts argued that Haspil feared Chaveuz would “abandon” him as others had, leading him to splurge on luxuries like helicopter rides to the airport and a posh apartment. “He essentially transitions into the role of paying for her love,” Roberts said, showing jurors pictures of receipts from Louis Vuitton and other pricey items Haspil bought for Chaveuz.

Haspil’s embezzlement-fueled romance eventually amassed to $400,000 by May 2020, said prosecutors, who accused him of killing Saleh to avoid being exposed and losing the lifestyle built on stolen money.

Killer of Gokada CEO murdered him over fear girlfriend would leave him if she found out he

“Tyrese Haspil murdered Fahim Saleh because [Saleh] stood between Tyrese Haspil and what he wanted,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Linda Ford stated. “Tyrese Haspil gets what he wants. Let me rephrase that — he takes what he wants.”

Prosecutors argued that Haspil, who they say premeditated the gruesome murder, was living beyond his means and knew his fake lifestyle wouldn’t last. “He takes a helicopter to JFK instead of taking the AirTrain. 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 contended that Chaveuz was due to return to France a year before the murder, but her extended stay left him both thrilled and desperate to continue stealing from Saleh. Haspil testified that he contemplated suicide but ultimately decided to kill Saleh to buy time and give Chaveuz the perfect birthday before her return to France later in the summer.

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In preparation for her birthday on July 19, Haspil stole $27,739 between July 12 and July 14, 2020, to ensure it was the best celebration yet, his attorney claimed. “He’s not occupied with getting away with murder. He’s occupied with buying gold birthday balloons,” Roberts said.

Prosecutors dismissed this excuse, asserting that Haspil’s greed overshadowed his claims of true love. “He’s taking Ubers to high school,” Ford noted, referencing Haspil’s earlier admission to embezzling $20,000 from a Moe’s Southwestern Grill he once worked at before creating a fake resume to secure a job with Saleh.

Haspil faces first-degree murder charges, which carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years to life if convicted. His attorneys hope to convince the jury to accept the emotional disturbance defense, which would reduce the charges to manslaughter, carrying a sentence of five to 25 years.

Killer of Gokada CEO murdered him over fear girlfriend would leave him if she found out he

Haspil also faces charges of grand larceny, burglary, and other offenses related to the theft from Saleh.

His attorneys argued that Haspil’s tough childhood, involving an abusive mother and moving between several homes, caused abandonment issues, explaining his need to prove his worth to Chaveuz. However, prosecutors told the jury these claims weren’t convincing. “This is not about the birthday party,” Ford said, acknowledging Haspil’s difficult upbringing. “This is about murdering Fahim Saleh because he was a witness… it’s as simple as that.”

Jury deliberations will begin on Monday, June 24.