Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Sunday, March 09, 2008

  Empathy for Hans Reiser

I was struck, back when Hans Reiser was arrested, by how much of his behaviour mimicked what my own would have been, in the same circumstances, especially if I was innocent. For those not paying attention, Hans Reiser is a famous Linux programmer, accused of murdering his wife, Nina, in September, 2006.

From his reputation, Reiser is a brilliant man, working on a brilliant - or possibly daft - set of ideas in direct competition with a company that had spent billions - and written them off - on the same task. A man so obsessed by those ideas, that it financially ruined him, his wife left him for his best friend, who is now missing or dead, his kids taken from him in part because he's a murder suspect, who just spent spent 16 pre-trial months in jail because he had no money to raise bail, his company destroyed by this, and few, if any, friends left, today is facing The System.

He's on trial, today - almost alone. It's looking like he's going to have to spend another year in the process... and what a tragedy - what a movie this must seem like to him, sometimes! How a normal weekend turned into a nightmare...

How could an innocent man bear such a load? Or a guilty one?

The trial - after over a year of delay - has been going on for months now. It's been fascinating. The best public records of what's going on have been in Henry K. Lee's liveblog, and the analysis of The Out-Lawyer’s Blog. Wired's coverage, especially the sketches, is also excellent. I have to say that the coverage, overall, in the popular press, has been pretty comprehensive.

The evidence presented by 47+ prosecution witnesses was unable to prove anything more violent in Reiser than a taste for video games and a black belt in Judo. Angry, yes. Often an a**, yes. Violent, no.

When his arrest came in October, and the reasons for it were announced, I was struck by how flimsy the evidence seemed, and also by how different a computer geek must seem in the face of normal lawgivers, and a normal jury. I have steered well clear of lawyers and doctors for a long time for similar reasons.

Everything I write below is predicated on the idea that Reiser is innocent. (please note, that my own jury is out, and perhaps I'll write about where I don't emphasise with him, later - but Hans has taken the stand and performed well, even managing to explain away two of my most nagging doubts, one kind of weirdly, but... people are weird). I am writing this because although the case has sparked empathy in me, a geek, I doubt it is having the same effect on the jury, and several aspects of an uber-geek's mindset are hard to understand, so here goes.

To take on the principal bits of evidence from my perspective.

*) A drop of blood of hers was found on a pillar in the house where Hans lived.

I owned a house for 5 years. I can vividly remember several of the places I bled in it (I banged into several pillars, and slashed my head open once on a door!), and no doubt there were several dozen other places where I dragged a burst foot corn or otherwise bled into the place.

There was definitely the blood of several gfs (those that stayed more than a month, anyway), and a few kids, that stopped by with various cuts and scrapes, somewhere, in my house.

I'd hate for that to be used as evidence against me. I sure hope all those people are alive and well today... (note to any ongoing investigations: I've been out of the country for most of year! Everyone I knew then with one exception is alive and kickin, so far as I know!)

*) A streak of her blood was found on a sleeping bag.

Um, Occam's razor. She slept in that sleeping bag at that time of the month. Why this counted as evidence I don't know.

(No dating could be done on either of the bloodstains. 3 other bloodstains were also found, but discarded as evidence by the prosecution)

This piece of "evidence" is also odd in that if the sleeping bag was used to transport the body and Reiser washed or got rid of everything else, why the heck did he not wash the darn sleeping bag?

*) He refused to let the cops search the house without a warrant. Last I looked, refusing this was covered by the American constitution. And with good reason - when they finally got a warrant, the cops trashed his house over the course of three days, even carting the back door away as evidence.

Imagine how'd you feel about this if you were innocent, sitting in your wrecked home after it had been torn apart, feeling the breeze from the back...

*) He bought two books on murder investigations after he concluded he was the prime suspect.

I would have done the same thing. (I am, admittedly, a nerd). Well, I might have gone to the public library, and opened less popular tomes. I've polled more normal people on this question, and most responded that they'd call a lawyer first, read a book second or third. Frankly, calling a lawyer never occurred to me, my call would have been first phone call from jail after the cold weird reality set in.

*) He practiced evasive techniques on the police.

Well, I might not have done this, but if they annoyed me enough - or I was still in an unreality mode where "Real Life" was getting so weird, so fast, I might have. Problem is, for decades, I have always tried to avoid dropping into patterns. When the opportunity arises I generally take a different path to a destination. This is not exactly uninfluenced by an unending string of Tom Clancy novels and spy novels I read in the 80s, where the kidnappers always scope out the target's patterns, but it is mostly my embrace of essential randomness. I took a different turn yesterday, for example, and found some nice flowers to smell, then doubled back as it looked like the road was ending.

So my "normal" behavior is kind of random. I don't know how to "look normal" or behave predictably. I've also been known to break out into a run for no reason other than excess energy.

*) Reiser wasn't particularly cop-friendly.

Well, neither am I. Cops divide the world into two kinds of people - felons, and criminals that haven't been caught yet. In today's America, nearly everyone violates one law or another daily. If the RIAA could convict and extract penalties from every college student with a mp3 collection, they'd be trillionaires.

This past week, I was riding my bike on the sidewalk a lot, which I'm told is illegal in Australia. I have no idea what the penalties are for this, I do it because having cars pass me on my right freaks me out, I feel much safer on the sidewalk - and it's a silly law - only once in 20+km of riding this week did I share the sidewalk with a pedestrian. If I'm busted for it I hope my accent gets me off.

(I would like America - and the world - a lot better if there was an upper limit on laws per capita, but no such luck) I don't want to trivialize murder by saying all this, but I am pointing out that even the most innocent citizen, even a few saints, break the law all the time, and have no reason to particularly like cops.

*) His car seat was missing and the floor was sopping wet. I found these last two pieces of evidence very damning originally - I still do. For the latter, I'd like very much for someone to publish the weather report for the time period and locations Reiser was ostensibly around (I'll have to see if I can pull up that date - if it rained...). For the former, well, the explanation raised in court today was pretty compelling, if he can back it up - he was sleeping in the car.

*) He went camping in the wilderness.

The defense alleges that's probably where the body went. It's a big wilderness and a compelling explanation.

Thing is, I'd explained Reiser's situation to multiple people on this trip, and asked what they'd do if all the pressures in the world were bearing down on you in this way - that suddenly you were caught in a whirlwind of law, lawyers, cpa, and paperwork - and 3 said, without further prompting - that they'd go camping to sort it all out.

This was precisely my response. After about a week of dealing with this increasingly paranoid crap, I would have gone camping. Though it would have been smart to go with a group. I wouldn't want a group - I'm a lone camper type - but it would have been smart.

*) When he was picked up by the cops he didn't have a battery in his cell phone. (the cell phone in Nina's car had also had her cell phone battery removed) (note, I have to check this allegation, I thought I read it this morning)

It is a really odd, geeky coincidence that points to someone being concerned about these sort of devices being used by the state, that the battery be removed. On the other hand, maybe removing the battery was common in their family. I don't know. Odder traits exist. I know people that buy rechargable batteries, and then leave them charging for days.

I do find it weird, very weird, and sad, that leaving the battery out of your cell phone can be considered evidence of a crime. Will, one day, not charging your cell phone - or forgetting to carry it - BE a crime??

From a privacy standpoint, the now well known exploits of the FBI, KGB, etc, in tapping cell phones, turning them on remotely, and using cell GPS to track people, really, really bother me. Over the past couple years numerous people I respect have made reference to cell phones being "government tracking devices". One criticised mine so much that I decided to stop carrying one entirely and see how I managed life without a ringtone.

I like it. A lot. I now carry a personal recorder instead, and about 1/3 of my writing gets done on that, when other people would be jabbering away about nothing. I'm saving 50 bucks a month, too. It does make my Millenial friends and mom crazy to not be able to reach me in this way, but I sure hope one day I'm not REQUIRED to carry a government tracking device.

The flaw of the Orwellian telescreen was that it was ominous, ever-present, and threatening. Cellphones are handheld and portable... and CUTE - everybody has one. One up on Orwell, for sure.

Still, I probably wouldn't have disconnected my battery in everyday use, as Reiser aparently did...

*) He was carrying a passport and cash

One thing I'm hoping for in this trial is to get a better picture of modern Russia, without having to go there myself. In Nicaragua, I always carried a passport, and cash - met a few AK-47 carrying traffic cops in my time there, too. Americans are far too oblivious to other ways of life, I can imagine that the paranoia level in places where Reiser spent half his time is much higher, on average. Take the treatment of Gazprom, for example. Your paranoia level also tends to be high if you are competing directly with Microsoft, too...

Reiser claims to have carried his passport since 1996 in the same place I've kept mine since I left the US. He claims to have been carrying the money because he felt (rightly) that with cops seizing all his assets they could get, that he'd have no money to live, or make payroll.

*) He's hard to understand

I have just now figured out that when a reporter writes "the defendant rambles on the stand", "rambles" is a code word for "I didn't understand the long paragraph the defendant said, so I'll make it sound like he's a nutcase, rather than someone trying (badly) to explain something outside my intellectual experience".

I ramble. Always have. I have a (now) funny story to tell about trying to describe USENET to a shrink back in the early 90s, but I'm not going to tell it here.

*) The defense has little evidence besides all that, and has spent months establishing that Reiser's relations were contentious with all sorts of people, and that he did not accept authority.

I'm contentious with all sorts of people, although I do make a better effort to get along than Reiser ever did on the kernel mailing list. In particular, I found about half his interactions with people like the doctor that preferred surgery to allergy medication - compellingly, and possibly, right. I've questioned the motivations of quite a few "professionals" in my time... been right a rather high percentage of that, too.

I'm contentious, but not violent. The closest thing to a violent story told about Reiser was his response to being sent 5000 spam mails by someone back in 1985, which was kind of moderate, actually. He's not a drunk, or a wife beater, or an S&M freak, or anything like that... and this makes me worry about myself, as I'm none of these things either yet I have several violent fantasies: 1 - about inviting all the known spammers on a free cruise, and then blowing up the ship, and shooting the survivors in the water. 2 - having system crackers drawn, hung and quartered - and 3 - putting people like ken lay out in the public stocks....

I've worked with the various authorities on implementing item 2... somewhat unwillingly, as they wanted way more information than I wanted to supply.

As for authority, I have a lot more respect for it than Reiser did, but it took a couple encounters with hard reality in the early 90s to install it in me. I still plan to keep biking on sidewalks, however.

*) He didn't ask for bail.

Weirdly, some people think of this as guilt. I'd have asked the judge to set the bail amount, just to kind of financially add up the weight of the charges... but

Broke, accused of murder, low on friends, having had a hell of a time, nowhere to go, what would you do? I don't know what I would do. Perhaps I'd regard time spent in jail with a sense of relief - thinking it would only be weeks before this silly matter was straightened out - before my ex-wife was found off with a new lover somewhere - naively thinking that finally I'd be able to get some serious writing done without outside distractions....

or at least I did before this case came up.

*) He erased/hid a hard disk

I keep a lot of data encrypted and take refuge in the 5th amendment against ever revealing the password. Actually, I regard encryption as being the only valid use of the 2nd amendment left. And what little is left of the 4th amendment applies too.

Given the kind of sometimes sensitive work I do (and he did) - I sleep better at night knowing that nobody but me can access certain data. Nobody. Ever.

It is also highly probable there was some illicit software or images (or gasp! mp3s!) there that could have been used against him. God help him if there was a single image of what could have been construed as child pornography there, for example. I worry about that - I'd think about wiping my hard disk were I a suspect in a crime, whether or not I'd committed it - as I tend to use google without safesearch turned on - who knows what's in my cache?

Do this: (And don't say I didn't warn you first) - turn off safe search, go to google images, and search for "nina". On the same page you'll also find a picture of a 14 year old, somewhat provocatively dressed.

Even with safesearch turned on, a few unsafe things slip through.

In Reiser's case - he was doing work for the DoD, among others, as well as top secret work on his own product - I'd have hidden that away somewhere safe - period. Probably on the net, I can think of a dozen safe ways to do that, but definitely I'd definitely yank the drive if low on time or if the files were big, and I wanted to be able to stay in business. The tale of Steve Jackson games is well remembered in engineering folklore.

The lawyer analyzing the case, above, says that Reiser could not have securely erased the files involved in his (theoretical) search for how to hide the body - he's wrong in that, there are plenty of ways to do that, I think Reiser hid something important to his business, his sole remaining dream... that there was a lot more to reiserfs4 than ever hit the public eye, and as I said, at the same time, there is the possibility of so much otherwise potentially incriminating stuff getting stored on a hard drive these days that the sanest response for any citizen would be to encrypt it all...

(My apologies to those that just did the google search with safesearch turned off. You can clean out your cache in firefox, but if you want to be SURE the data is gone, try searching for secure delete on the internet.)

*) His portrait of Nina is of a manipulator...

I've met several women just like how he portrays Nina. I was willing to accept what the witnesses said about her positively, before, then I read this: I don’t know Hans nor do I know Nina, but I am from Soviet Union myself, and when I read his description of Nina, her image became so vivid, I know exactly what he is saying. I believe him! I don't think that he killed her. Even before I read his testimony, I did think that she is absolutely capable of such a fraud. And again I do agree with him, many Russians think Americans are naive, if not to say stupid. I also agree that legal system here is biased against men. They did steal his kids. How would you feel? Why a man of such intelligence as he is, man who was able to invent Linux filing system, isn’t able to create more smooth lies? I think because he is saying the truth.

So where does the trial go now? Well, while Reiser rots, the judge takes a vacation for a week - this is after well over year spent in jail for Reiser, with no additional evidence found against him - that's a "speedy trial" in the US for an famous indigent programmer. I hope nobody I know ever has to go through this - guilty, or innocent.

Things that bother me ongoing... what if this was a simple disappearance, utterly random? I note that Oakland ranks high in the national murder and drug crime rates... and if proven innocent, how will Reiser pull his life back together? OJ simpson has never managed to do so... and had much more substantial evidence against him, in my humble opinion.

And then, of course, there's the movie that is sure to come of this. One potential plotline: KGB makes shadowy deal with big corporation. Bad guy makes deal with ex-wife to discredit a John Galt type that refuses to sell out... deal goes bad... she flees for her life... he goes to jail but stands firm...

can there be a happy ending to this story? Or a true and just one?

Labels: ,

 
Comments:
Compelling;

as your various points of view often are, I found this one to be particularly so.

How's that for sentence structure?

I am no fan of Reiser, and when I learned he had been arrested for the murder of his wife, my immediate knee jerk reaction was along the lines of "Figures, good luck making that stick."

I also haven't found much compelling in the 'evidence' against him. All sounds really weak to me.

On the other hand; Why am I reminded so strongly of Cheech Wizard when I think of Hans Reiser?


"Your Honor, I resent being saddled with the job of defending this crawling swamp shit.
Its clear the little bastard is guilty."
 
Rats, that was meant to be a preview, not a 'publish'.

Anyway, that quote was from Cheech Wizard's defense attorney when Cheech was being railroaded
toward the end of that strips run.

Ironically, -as I really don't care what happens to Hans- I feel that a conviction will be more of a exhoneration in my view than a dismissal.

My logic is that if Hans is convicted on this pretty much wholly circumstantial evidence, then he will really and truly be a 'victim of circumstance' whereas if he is aquitted, then his 'plan worked'.

As you point out, he has no resources other than his own engineering skills. That doesn't play well with lawyers. They -as a rule, with noted exceptions- like money and fame, and there is little of those qualities to be had here.

A conviction makes a lot more folks happy than an aquittal. This is a very interesting case.

A year ago, on IRC, I watched a number of debates. All of Hans's supporters were of the capitol 'L' libertarian* persuation and they were all ranters, and the detractors pretty much were all of the 'I don't really care, will you please shut up, or you will be kick/banned" point of view.

I wonder if this same debate will play out in the courtroom.


* Capitol L libertarian;
One who belives that there need only be enough government to protect them from their slaves.
 
Never heard of Cheech wizard before now, don't quite get the context to which you refer.

I was appalled at the cruelty displayed on slashdot towards Reiser at the time of his arrest, and also by how he was basically tried and convicted and hanged by the media then, with no chance to defend himself.

I believe in the maxim that better a 100 guilty men go free than one innocent man suffer. Most of the people I know are one month away from missing their mortgage. If something like this came up, their stuff seized, put in jail for even a few weeks, they'd lose everything.

I felt that Reiser became much more difficult, and more intensely disliked, after 2002 when his personal and business problems worsened. He certainly made some bad choices in friends, and lovers.

Still, the conversation yesterday about whether his work was worth millions or not got to me. Around him were people that only wanted from his work but to sell it to the highest bidder, and spend all (his) money resulting from it - and he wanted his work to better the world - he held on to his principles, and his ideals, at tremendous personal and financial cost. I found that pretty admirable, and it led to a difficult philosphical question that I'm still trying to address and have not written about:

What, exactly, are you willing to do for your wife and kids? What principles must you hold dear in order for your life to be worth living after they grow up, to be a good example for your kids?

To me the answer is (currently) pretty simple - I'd give up a lot of principles to keep them clothed and housed - far fewer to keep my wife in jewelry - and there are a few principles of mine - quite a few as I work it out - that I'd rather the kids starve than ever give up.

To give you one example, working as an executioner in Aushwitz. Could I do that - to keep my family fed and housed? No. Even if my only other choice was to be executed myself. Probably.

But I don't have kids. Or a wife.

And I can see in the slow settling of daily compromise in a steadily worsening situation, finally losing grip on nearly principle I held dear. Or my grip on every person I held dear.

The story of Faust has always resonated with me. Faust is not as present in Reiser's story as it is in mine, but he's there, hovering in the background.
 
Lawyers understand how to work the legal system, and lawyers are often very good at "working" what goes on in people's heads.

It's nice when a trial finds the truth but I suspect that too often for my comfort, trials come out the way the lawyers manipulate those sitting in judgement.

I sat on a DUI jury a while back. The prosecuting attorney did part of her questioning of one witness by drawing a street diagram on a flip chart and using color (red) to emphasize the most damaging part of who was where and could see what. For the next several hours of the trial, that flip chart with its dramatic red lines kept drawing my attention. Probably it had the same affect on some of the other jurors. It was like the prosecutor kept rising up saying, "But what about this?" Every statement by the defense attorney, whether challenged by the prosecutor or not, had the prosecutor's objection sitting there again and again.

Ultimately, I was "selected" as the one juror to be dropped before the jury retired to consider its verdict. Of course, after hearing all the evidence I waited around to hear what my peers had decided. They found the defendant guilty on the lesser of the two charges and innocent on the more severe. He paid a significant fine but served no time. (I would've argued strongly to convict on both charges.)

After the trial ended, I was sitting in the hall and the two attorneys came out. They asked me what I had thought of their presentations and so I told them about the flip-chart. The prosecutor smiled and said, "Thank you." The defending attorney frowned and walked away.

A good attorney persuades simuntaneously on several levels. "Truth" may only one of them.
 
Sorry m,

The context was that whenever I think of Hans, i think of Cheech. It was an old strip. I linked the wikipedia page so you could read a bit. Ultimately, Cheech was a pain in the ass, and when he finally landed on trial (falsely accused/railroaded) those were the words of his defense attorny. I'm sorry the analogy didn't hold. I am dating myself again. Oh well.
 
D*mnit! that was supposed to be a preview. And google is supposed to be all that. Sheesh.

Anyway, Ed;

It's an old saw:

When the facts are against you, argue the law.
When the law is against you, argue the facts.

Lawyers are such an easy target. I pick on them mostly because I have a lot of respect for the institution of our western law.

I read somewhere, a long time ago that the differences between fact and truth are really huge. It's a right-brain, left-brain thing. Facts are just that, facts. testable, repeatable and all that. Truth is the meaning behind the facts, almost wholly non-objective, and subject to the entire plethora of 'stuff' that we intuit about our own and our collective world views.

This is yet still another place where the wonderful world of logic in a binary sense, really robs us, culturally, and actually in huge ways. Going here is way beyond anything I can try to stuff into a posting (meaning, I have no real idea at all, if you can't express it, you don't know it. If you can't express it in 100 words or less, even if you can express it, you don't know it well.)

Anyway, dropping back to this side of metaphysics, Lawyers, Jurists, the legal system in it's entirety is tasked with bringing all this fact/truth stuff down to a common understanding, and it's a darned tough job. Of course they get it wrong all the time. Bless them for even trying.

Mike:

I'm sorry, but I don't buy this Hans-as-altrust viewpoint.

And that's the truth.
 
And oh yeah!

Mike;

Slashdot is a cruel place, populated with lots of opinions put forth by folks who have no real investment in them. IOW,
folks sitting around posting to slashdot.
 
Jeeze, guys, I publish a story where I defend the use of strong crypto by ordinary citizens, make a blanket statement about cops's attitude towards civilians, point people more or less directly at possible child pr0n, describe why people take evasive tactics, compare a cell phone to an Orwellian telescreen, and promise to keep riding my bicycle on the sidewalks in defiance of the law....

All of which - in addition to the core subject matter of the man on trial - I think are very controversial subjects in "normal" society.

And this is the best commentary you can come up with?

Do you buy into everything I just wrote?

Am I not being outrageous enough?

Is it so normal for people in our field to think this way? Do people outside of our field think this way?

I really have to get more readers from outside my circle. (tho, as a writer, I'm still not happy with the opening paragraphs, it's not even close to Josh Davis standards - now that guy is the Tom Wolfe of the next generation....)
 
Yes, Mike. All of what you said is true. However, as your protagonist, you picked someone who spent their life developing an attitude that would assure that *if* things went south for them, that no one would give a shit, and guess what? No one gives a shit.


I am not in your field, you write code, I try to keep stuff stitched together and generally hate computers.

Do people think the way I think? Brother, how long have you known me? NO ONE thinks the way I think.

That said, it should be clear that it is also true, that no one cares what I think.

In other -contextualy related- news: New York Governor Eliot Spitze has been caught soliciting for prostitution. Has he been caught because he was under investigation, based on sworn testamony of a victim?
No.
Has be been caught because some obvious impropriety caused someone to swear an affidavit prompting an investigation?
No.
No.
He has been caught in a general
dragnet cast out opon the waters of banking transactions.
EXACTLY what the framers of the constitution had in mind when they wrote the 4th amendment to the bill of rights preamble to the US consititution, which states:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Now, which part of that is it that the federal government doesn't understand?

Oh, they understand it full well. They just don't care.

Notice how NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE is talking about the shredding of the 4th Amendment in this case.

Why? Because he's a politico, and no one cares.
 
- Yes, Mike. All of what you said is - true. However, as your protagonist,
- you picked someone who spent their
- life developing an attitude that would - assure that *if* things went south for - them, that no one would give a shit, -
- and guess what? No one gives a shit.

I don't think how many friends you have counts as much as how many enemies you make, but I agree that very few give a darn about Reiser. My points remain that A) the presumption of innocence should even protect a**holes, and B) "innocence" is rare in anybody these days.

- Do people think the way I think? - Brother, how long have you known me? NO ONE thinks the way I think.

Same applies for most people I reckon.

> That said, it should be clear that >it is also true, that no one cares what >I think.

I care about what you think! You are a fine storyteller with a good sense of history...

Now, other than us, nearly nobody cares about what we think...

> In other -contextualy related- >news: New York Governor Eliot Spitze >has been caught soliciting for >prostitution.

That was on my mind yesterday too. What is it about being a red-hot scion of the law that can't get you laid via normal means?

Cpm writes more:
'He has been caught in a general
dragnet cast out upon the waters of banking transactions.
EXACTLY what the framers of the constitution had in mind when they wrote the 4th amendment to the bill of rights preamble to the US consititution, which states:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Now, which part of that is it that the federal government doesn't understand?

Oh, they understand it full well. They just don't care.

Notice how NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE is talking about the shredding of the 4th Amendment in this case."'

This case in that context was on my mind, too. After I get finished rewriting "In cold blood", I'll get around to defending Spitzer too. I note that he took on some major crime syndicates, made many powerful enemies, and was widely respected before his fall...

> Why? Because he's a politico, and no one cares.

I care. The other day, Bush asserted a new right to open postal mail by presidential fiat, even...
 
i want to help him. we can organize something, this is the worst precedent i have seen set in my lifetime other than torture and the patriot act. i want to try and help him, contact me if you are interested in organizing something.

aliamichelle@gmail.com

alia weiner.
fellow geek.
 
The blood wasn't on a sleeping bag, it was on a sleeping bag stuff sack found in his car--no sleeping bag found.

You also left out a few pieces of evidence that I think are rather damning--his wife was last seen at his home, and his son Rory told two contradictory stories about that. The first story he told the police was that he last saw his mother upstairs with his father and they were fighting, and then his father told him to go to bed. The second story was that he saw his mother leave and drive away; in an interview with a psychologist he said that he had a secret, which was that his father told him not to say anything about what happened to the police.

Another is that he intentionally hid his car (the one with the missing seat) from the police, and was driving his mother's car. When his mother asked him where his car was, he lied and claimed it wasn't working and that she should "never mind."

Another is that in a phone conversation with his mother, intercepted by wiretap, he spoke of his wife in the past tense.

There's clearly a lot of craziness involved in this case (especially with Sean Sturgeon's unsubstantiated claim of being a serial killer, which sounds like an attempt to help get Reiser off the hook by creating reasonable doubt), but some of Reiser's behavior that you didn't touch on looks very difficult to provide an innocent explanation for.
 
Dear Jim:

I wrote this piece fairly early on in the trial, and wrote several follow ups later.

My point (in the piece you comment upon) was about how much my own actions would have mimicked Reiser's behavior in the same circumstances, had I been innocent. It was less about reiser and more about me....

But in response to what you write.

I discounted the child's evidence. You can get a kid to say anything, particularly under pressure, and at 6 years old???

I don't recall the blood in a stuff sack thing, thought it was a sleeping bag.

As for the wiretap and using the past tense, well as best as I recall that conversation was vaguely phrased and that *I* would have (after a week or two) started using the past tense. The whole present tense thing seemed to be a legal fiction - to me Nina Reiser is most definitely dead - but as to why or how I still find several alternate explanations plausible.

Oakland is one of the more dangerous cities in the world. People disappear there often.

However, I found the car related evidence the most damning of it all, and I did note that, both then and later.

I guess you spotted this blog due to the tv show coming up (or has it played already?) I wonder how they are going to portray events? (I don't have a tv, maybe it will show up on youtube)

Thanks for writing.
 
It's July 9 and Reiser just admitted to killing Nina. He has led police to her body to reduce his sentence by 10 years.

After all the talk on this blog about geek-bias, his unfair treatment, and potential justifications of his "weird" behavior, I'd be interested to see what everyone has to say now. I felt the evidence against him was pretty clear from the beginning.

And as for the geek bias, in so much as his geekiness contributed to the arrogance that led to his deliberate decision to kill his wife, I think "geek bias" was justified.

I know plenty of geeks -- I am a huge one my self -- and their idiosyncrasies don't manifest in murderous behavior. Clearly his wife was wrong for cheating on him (she should have ended it with him first), but that just doesn't justify murder.
 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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