Linux Developer On Trial For Murdering His Wife

Hans Reiser, the owner of Namesys and the developer of ReiserFS, is on trial for murder charges related to his wife's disappearance last year.

K.C. Jones, Contributor

November 28, 2007

2 Min Read

Hans Reiser, the owner of Namesys, which offers file systems for Linux, is on trial for murder charges related to his wife's disappearance last year.

Reiser developed ReiserFS, the default file system on Suse Linux/openSUSE, Slackware, Xandros, Yoper, Linspir, and Kurumin Linux. Free software advocates hold Reiser's work on the program, which manages files on hard drives with Suse Linux Enterprise systems, in high regard.

Reiser's defense lawyer characterized the developer, during an ABC television interview, as an exceptionally intelligent man who can read 9,000 pages of court documents and recite portions back, complete with the pages and line numbers he references.

Reiser married a Russian woman who advertised in a mail-order bride catalogue. The woman, Nina Reiser, had two children with the developer, obtained citizenship, and filed for divorce. During the couple's separation, she obtained restraining orders and complained that Hans Reiser had shoved her. Nina Reiser also complained of her son, who was 4 or 5 at the time, being exposed to violent video games and movies.

Nina Reiser was last seen dropping off her children at Hans Reiser's mother's home, where the developer was living, in September 2006. Police found her car, full of groceries, in a grocery store parking lot not long before the couple was scheduled to appear in court for a child support dispute.

Police never found a body. Hans Reiser's attorney argued in an Oakland, Calif., court that Nina Reiser fled to Russia and is in hiding, possibly because her estate stands to benefit financially from a murder conviction, according to published reports on the trial. Nina Reiser's divorce lawyer said that Hans Reiser's company, Namesys, has no value.

Police did find Hans Reiser's car missing a seat, blood spots in his home and car, and books on murder investigations, which they contend the accused bought days after his wife disappeared.

People who knew Nina Reiser said the 31-year-old mother, who had full custody, would never disappear without her children. The children now live in Russia under their maternal grandmother's care, and the son has returned to testify in the murder trial.

In court on Tuesday, Nina Reiser's divorce lawyer read e-mail messages the woman had turned over. Hans Reiser's attorney disputed the authenticity of the documents, which appeared to contain statements from Hans Reiser about therapists implanting his children with false memories. The attorney portrayed Nina Reiser as promiscuous and asked the divorce lawyer if the woman had discussed her sexual preferences or attempts to find male companions on Craigslist.

Nina Reiser's lawyer said that Hans Reiser owed more than $50,000 in child support and learned he would face trial on contempt charges, one week before Nina Reiser disappeared.

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