HAYWARD, Calif. – A noted computer programmer convicted of killing his wife four years ago was back in court Wednesday, defending himself against a wrongful lawsuit filed by his two children.
Opening statements started in the civil case against Hans Reiser, who was convicted of killing his wife, Nina Reiser, amid a custody dispute in 2008, the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/LPBzNh) reported. Known in programming circles for his ReiserFS computer file system, Reiser was sentenced to 15 years-to-life in prison.
Nina Reiser's mother, Irina Sharanova, filed the wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the couple's children, 12-year-old Rory, and 11-year-old Niorline. Sharanova and the children now live in Russia where Nina Reiser was born.
Reiser's children are seeking more than $7 million in damages. Whether they can collect if they win is an open question. Hans Reiser is representing himself because he says he can't afford an attorney and indigent defendants aren't entitled to public defenders in civil court.
He appeared in court Tuesday dressed in his jail house garb and guarded by sheriff's deputies and began picking a jury with the lawyer representing his children.
According to the Chronicle, Reiser told potential jurors that he had "absolutely terrible things about lawyers" to say and asked them if they could be fair and "respect" a person who believes he committed murder to protect children from harm.
"In my mind, it's never moral to kill anyone for any reason," on prospective juror responded.
During his criminal trial, Reiser claimed his innocence and hinted that his wife had absconded to her native Russia. After his conviction, he led authorities to her body buried in the Oakland Hills in exchange for a second-degree murder conviction rather than a first-degree one.
Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com