Criminalist testifies about blood stains at
By Jeff Shuttleworth
January 18, 2008
Bloodstains were found on eight different locations in computer
engineer Hans Reiser's home in the Oakland hills when police searched
it after his estranged wife Nina disappeared on Sept. 3, 2006,
Oakland police criminalist Todd Weller said yesterday.
Testifying in Hans Reiser's murder trial, Weller said that when
police conducted searches on Sept. 13 and 14, 2006, at the home
at 6969 Exeter Drive where Reiser lived with his mother, two bloodstains
were found on a pillar in the entryway.
In addition, three bloodstains were found on a black leather
couch in the living room, one was found on a mattress, one was
found on the floor under the mattress and one was found on a light
switch, Weller said.
Jurors haven't yet heard testimony about the source of the blood,
so they don't yet know its significance.
Another Oakland police criminalist, Sharon Cavness, testified
at Reiser's preliminary hearing on Dec. 20, 2006, that the blood
on the pillar belonged to both Hans and Nina Reiser.
Cavness is expected to testify next Tuesday, when Reiser's trial
Reiser, 44, is accused of murdering Nina, who was 31 when she
disappeared, even though her body has never been found.
But he was charged in October of 2006 with murdering Nina after
Oakland police said they found biological and trace evidence tying
him to her death.
Hans Reiser has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
His attorney, William DuBois, has said that he thinks Nina may
still be alive and in hiding in Russia, where she was born and
trained as a physician.
Hans and Nina Reiser married in 1999 but she filed for divorce
and separated from him in 2004. The couple was in the midst of
acrimonious divorce proceedings and a struggle over custody of
their two children, Rory and Nio, when she disappeared.
Nina had primary physical and legal custody of the children but
he was allowed to see them several days a week.
At the preliminary hearing, Cavness, a DNA expert, said there
is a less than 1 in 45 trillion chance that the female blood sample
on the pillar at the Exeter Drive home is from someone other than
Cavness said there is a less than 1 in 208 chance that the male
sample was from someone other than Hans Reiser.
She said the reason for the large difference in odds is that
the female sample was much bigger than the male sample.
But under cross-examination from DuBois, Cavness admitted that
DNA testing can't reveal the time and age of blood samples, so
it's impossible to know when the blood got on the pillar.
DuBois made that same point when he cross-examined Weller and
the criminalist conceded it's impossible to determine the age
of blood spots.
In other testimony yesterday, Weller said that when police found
Nina Reiser's abandoned tan 2001 Honda Odyssey minivan on Sept.
9, 2006, six days after she disappeared, they found her rent check,
rotting groceries, her purse, including cash and credit cards,
and her cell phone with its battery detached.
Police found the van in the 1500 block of Fernwood Drive in Oakland,
a short distance from Hans Reiser's home, after a resident told
police it had been sitting there for at least several days.
Weller said Nina's purse contained cards for various appointments,
including one for a dental appointment for her son Rory on Oct.
9, 2006, and a skin care salon appointment for herself on Sept.
In addition, Weller said her billfold contained receipts from
the Berkeley Bowl grocery store at 2020 Oregon St. in Berkeley
on the day she disappeared.
Weller said a receipt at 12:37 p.m. on Sept. 3, 2006, was for
takeout food costing $15.18 and a receipt at 1:55 p.m. was for
51 grocery items costing $144.48.
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