Lawyer: Nina Reiser's death not proven

April 21, 2008 1:39:13 PM PDT
The defense lawyer for computer engineer Hans Reiser told jurors today that prosecutors have failed to prove that his estranged wife Nina, who disappeared on Sept. 3, 2006, is dead.

In the third day of his closing argument in Reiser's marathon murder trial, defense attorney William DuBois said Nina, who was born and educated in Russia, "has contacts around the world" and "has lived most of her life in Europe."

Nina's mother and son both testified that they haven't had any contact with Nina since she disappeared and prosecutor Paul Hora put on the witness stand many witnesses who testified that Nina would never leave her two children.

But DuBois said, "I submit that the mantra that she would never leave her children does not apply" because they wound up living with Nina's mother in St. Petersburg, Russia, so at least they're in the care of her family.

Hora told jurors in his closing argument last week that proving that Nina is dead is one of his three essential tasks in Hans Reiser's trial, along with proving that Hans killed her and that it was murder.

Nina Reiser, who was 31 when she disappeared after dropping off her children at Hans' house in the Oakland hills, met Hans in Russia, where she was trained as a physician and where he often spent time doing business for his computer file system company.

They married in 1999, but she filed for divorce and separated from him in 2004. Although Nina was awarded legal custody of their children, Hans had visitation rights.

Nina's body has never been found, but Hora says that circumstantial evidence as well as blood and DNA evidence proves that Hans killed her.

Hans Reiser has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Hora has asked jurors to convict Reiser of either first- or second-degree murder but DuBois said he should be acquitted. Jurors are expected to begin deliberating Reiser's fate either late today or Tuesday morning.

Hora will give his rebuttal closing argument today after DuBois finishes speaking to jurors.


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