Defense lawyer says Hans Reiser didn’t kill Nina

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Published on April 17, 2008 with No Comments

By Jeff Shuttleworth

April 17, 2008

Hans Reiser’s defense attorney compared the computer engineer to a duckbill platypus Wednesday and said Reiser is obnoxious and self-centered but insisted that he didn’t kill his estranged wife Nina, who disappeared on Sept. 3, 2006.

In a rambling closing argument as Reiser’s five-month-long trial in Oakland nears its end, defense lawyer William DuBois discussed the Civil War, the Gettysburg Address, President Lincoln, President Bush, Sir Thomas More and slavery and suggested that Nina Reiser might still be alive and living somewhere in Europe.

DuBois told jurors, “The presumption of innocence applies to Hans Reiser, like it does to the rest of us” and said that prosecutor Paul Hora failed to prove that Reiser, 44, killed Nina.

Hora asked jurors to convict Reiser of either first- or second-degree murder but DuBois said he should be acquitted.

Closing arguments are expected to conclude today. Jurors are expected to begin deliberating on Monday.

Nina Reiser, who was 31 at the time, was last seen alive on Sept. 3, 2006, when she dropped off the couple’s two children at the house in the Oakland hills where Hans lived with his mother.

Nina and Hans met in Russia, where she was born and was trained as a physician and where he often spent time doing business for his computer file system company.

They married in 1999, but she filed for divorce and separated from him in 2004. Although Nina was awarded legal custody of their children, Hans had visitation rights.

Nina’s body has never been found, but Hora says that circumstantial evidence as well as blood and DNA evidence proves that Hans killed her.

Hans Reiser has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Hora completed his closing argument by telling jurors that the fact the cell phone batteries of both Hans and Nina were removed after she disappeared “is probably the most incriminating circumstance” in Reiser’s trial.

Hora said “nobody walks around with their cell phone battery removed” and the only type of person who would even think about it would be someone who’s familiar with technology, such as Reiser, whose name file system company was called Namesys Inc.

Removing the cell phone batteries made it harder for Oakland police to track Reiser and find Nina after she disappeared, Hora said.

Hora said, “This circumstance alone leaves no doubt that the defendant (Reiser) is guilty” and led Reiser to commit perjury when he testified that, “I’m a cell-phone-battery-in kind of guy.”

The prosecutor told jurors, “He’s lying through his teeth to you under oath” and that they can disregard all of Reiser’s 10 days of testimony because Reiser later admitted, under cross examination, that he lied about removing his cell phone battery.

“That was not a lie about something trivial,” Hora said.

Hora said another powerful piece of circumstantial evidence against Reiser is that he removed the front passenger seat and three-fourths of the interior from his car shortly after Nina disappeared.

Showing jurors a photograph of the Bay Bridge toll plaza, where he said 270,000 cars travel every day, Hora said if he went to the toll plaza and examined every car it would take many years before they found someone who had removed both their front passenger seat and their cell phone battery.

Hora said there’s substantial evidence that Reiser had plenty of motive to kill Nina, as he called her “evil” and a “Nazi” and alleged that she destroyed their marriage, had an affair with his best friend and embezzled money from his company.

Hora said Reiser was still furious at Nina when he was arrested five weeks after her disappearance, as police found on his laptop computer a press release he wanted to distribute that said negative things about Nina.

Hora said, “His wife is missing, his kids are in foster care and he wants to publish this release which trashes the mother of his children.”

DuBois began his closing argument by displaying a duckbill platypus doll and saying that Reiser is like the aquatic animal “in the way he carries himself and walks and speaks” because Reiser is “odd in every way” and “downright obnoxious.”

But DuBois said Reiser “must be treated the same” as everyone else under the law.

DuBois then launched into the history of legal rules requiring that the government must prove its case against defendants.

He said that requirement began after Sir Thomas More “pissed off” King Henry VIII and was beheaded.

DuBois said equal protection under the law wasn’t guaranteed in the U.S. until after the Civil War, as prior to then “some men were less than others” and were treated as chattel and slaves.

DuBois read from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and then said, “They don’t make presidents like they used to.”

Referring to President Bush, DuBois said, “Somehow I don’t see our president saying that.”

As for Nina, DuBois admitted, “I don’t know where she is” but he said “the evidence hasn’t told us where she is and the evidence hasn’t excluded her being in Europe.”

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