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Convicted of Murder, Linux Guru Hans Reiser Returns to Court to Fight Civil Suit

•, By David Kravets

Reiser, the developer of the ReiserFS filesystem, was convicted by an Alameda County, California jury in 2008 of the first-degree murder of his wife, Nina. Defendant Reiser and his legal team had argued that his wife was not dead, and had abandoned her children to sneak away to Russia, where the couple met in 1998, after he accused her of embezzling from his software company, Namesys. But jurors didn’t buy Reiser’s story, and weeks after his conviction he led the authorities to Nina’s body hidden in the Oakland hills, for a reduced term of 15-to-life instead of 25-to-life.

Now he has a new story — he killed his wife to prevent her from possibly killing their children. And he plans on telling a new jury about it while wearing his Pleasant Valley State Prison jail smocks and acting as his own attorney.
San Francisco lawyers working pro bono brought the suit on behalf of the Reisers’ 12-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter. The suit seeks unspecified damages for wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

The children’s attorney, Arturo González of Morrison & Foerster, isn’t sure if there is any money to recover for the children.

“We want a judgment. If it turns out that Reiser has assets hidden somewhere, like a bank account in Russia, if that turns out to be the case, we want the children to be entitled to those funds,” he said. “It is conceivable he may come up with some idea that is of some value, then that value should go to the children.”

The murder case began with no body, no crime scene, no reliable eyewitness and virtually no physical evidence. It ended with the husband’s conviction after he took the stand, delivered the “geek defense” and proceeded to slowly incriminate himself over the course of 11 days of testimony.

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