Hans Reiser takes the stand in murder trial

March 3, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
The Oakland software developer accused of killing his estranged wife took the stand Monday in his defense. Prosecutors say Hans Reiser murdered his wife in September 2006, but Nina Reiser's body has never been found. The two were in the midst of a bitter divorce and a battle over custody of their two children.

The defense is trying to portray Reiser as a computer geek who's very shy with absolutely no social skills, someone who would never lose his temper, hoping we'll draw the conclusion that he would never kill his wife.

Reiser's attorney said it was his idea to put the computer software developer on the stand. He says Reiser's testimony and demeanor will help prove he did not kill his wife.

"He's not a social outcast, he is just without social skills," says defense lawyer William DuBois.

"Are you saying he couldn't kill anybody?" asks a reporter.

"Oh sure, yeah," says defense lawyer William DuBois.

Reiser entered UC Berkeley when he was only 15-years-old. His attorney claims Reiser has always had problems fitting in socially. Reiser, he says, is not the arrogant and narcissistic man the prosecution portrays him to be.

In court, 44-year-old Reiser recalled a college confrontation, one that never escalated because of his calm demeanor.

"He doesn't do that. He doesn't have a temper," says DuBois.

Nina Reiser was last seen alive on September 3, 2006. She was dropping off the couple's children at the house Hans Reiser shared with his mother on Exeter Drive in the Oakland Hills. The couple argued about their divorce and other issues, but Reiser testified he saw Nina leave his house and drive off.

The 33-year-old was never seen or heard from again. Investigators say DNA evidence proves he killed her.

Reiser's legal team argued in the past that Nina may still be alive and hiding in her native Russia.

"I don't know where she is honestly and I don't maintain that she's in Russia because I don't know where she is, I really don't. I only know what the evidence shows in this case, which is she drove away from the Exeter house and was never seen again by my client or anybody else that I know of," says DuBois.

The children are living with their grandmother in Russia. Reiser is expected to be on the stand for the rest of the week and his defense is expected to call three more witnesses, including their own DNA expert.


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