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Software Developer Hans Reiser Leads Police To Wife's Body

Prosecutors could provide leniency in sentencing Wednesday in exchange for Reiser's last-minute cooperation.
Hans Reiser led police and prosecutors to his wife's dead body Monday.

In April, a jury convicted the computer engineer of killing his wife. Reiser maintained his innocence during the trial. Prosecutors could provide leniency in sentencing Wednesday in exchange for his last-minute cooperation.

Thirty-one-year-old Nina Reiser was last seen dropping off the couple's two children at Hans Reiser's home in Oakland, Calif. in September 2006. Police found her vehicle with groceries and Nina Reiser's pocketbook and cell phone inside. Since the phone's battery was missing, police were unable to trace her last steps through cell phone tower signals.

Items belonging to Hans Reiser were also missing. They include: his cell phone battery and the front passenger seat of the Honda CRX he had been driving. Neighbors testified that they had seen Reiser hosing down the car at night, and police found books on murder inside the car.

The couple met in Russia after connecting through a Web site advertising Russian brides. Nina Reiser had been practicing gynecology and obstetrics before she married Hans Reiser and moved to the United States.

The couple had two children before separating. They argued about money and about whether they should allow their son to play violent video games. An order of protection against Hans Reiser stated that he was a black-belt judo student who had shoved his wife and threatened to "make her hurt for the rest of her life."

Hans Reiser's defense hinged on the fact that Nina Reiser's body had not been found. His lawyer said the mother of two could have returned to Russia, gone into hiding, or become a victim of foul play at someone else's hands.

During the trial, a jail inmate testified that Hans Reiser had rushed toward a television to hear a news report about a body found in the Oakland hills. The inmate, who said he received no offers for special treatment, testified that Reiser waited through commercial breaks and other reports and seemed to lose interest when he learned the report was about a black man. Reiser led police to another body in Oakland hills this week. It was near Reiser's home but it has not yet been identified.

The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that Reiser admitted strangling his wife, and prosecutors agreed to sentence him for second-degree murder, rather than first-degree murder. The reduced charge carries a maximum of 15 years to life n prison, instead of the 25-years-to-life sentence Reiser faced for first-degree murder.

Reiser developed ReiserFS, the default file system on SUSE Linux/openSUSE, Slackware, Xandros, Yoper, Linspire, and Kurumin Linux. The 44-year-old claimed his wife had stolen money from his company, Namesys.

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Brian T. Horowitz, Contributing Reporter
Samuel Greengard, Contributing Reporter
Nathan Eddy, Freelance Writer
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing