Reiser was offered manslaughter plea

July 9, 2008 12:33:26 PM PDT
In September of last year Hans Reiser was offered a deal - if he showed authorities where Nina Reiser's body was, he could have plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter and his sentence would have been three years.

The judge said he would have signed off on the deal to spare Reiser's children of having to testify in an emotionally charged trial. Instead Reiser rolled the dice and apparently lost.

Reiser was supposed to be sentenced for first-degree murder on Wednesday. Now it will be August 13th when Judge Larry Goodman will decide if he's going to sign off on a deal that would change Reiser's conviction to second-degree murder. Goodman stated that he will not sign off any deal until he is assured that it is in the best interest of Nina Reiser's family and children. The judge also wants to make sure that Reiser won't go back on the deal and is convinced there wouldn't even be a deal if Reiser wasn't convicted.

Alameda County prosecutors revealed the reduced murder charges against Hans Reiser one day after he led them to the body of his estranged wife. The prosecutor says the deal was struck with the support of Nina Reiser's family.

"After going through this horrible trial that the family had to go through, and having to go through all the speculation that Nina had run away and that the family was somehow involved in hiding her away, and then having to live in the future with people saying they've seen Nina and they've sighted Nina, and not having to worry about appeals and all that uncertainty, and where their daughter is and where she was and what happened, that's all solved for them now," says prosecutor Paul Haro.

The deal lessens Reiser's potential sentence from 25 years to life to 15 years to life. The body was buried in a steep ravine in Redwood Regional Park, less than half a mile from the house he shared with his mother where Nina was last seen alive in September of 2006.

Defense attorney Bill Du Bois says his client Hans Reiser is a changed man, one day after the convicted murder lead authorities to his estranged wife's body in the Oakland Hills.

"He waited until he got into his cell to cry, to weep openly. His remorse is becoming an aspect of his personality that he was, maybe up until yesterday, unfamiliar with," said Du Bois.

"I can say professionally that more than likely without him directing us to exactly where that location was, we probably would have never found Nina Reiser," says Lt. Ersie Joyner with the Oakland Police Department.

The couple had two children and were in the midst of a difficult divorce when she disappeared. His lawyers say he's had a change of heart.

"There's certainly a component now of not being selfish and it is a component about leaving something for his children that hasn't been there before. So there is a complete change in attitude on his part," says Reiser's attorney, Richard Tamor.

"I'm sure he has a whole new way of looking at things because he's facing 25 years to life with a first-degree sentence," says juror Vincent Dunn.

Vince Dunn was one of the jurors who convicted Reiser.

"No one should show any mercy on Hans Reiser," says Dunn.

Even with the reduced sentencing terms, Reiser still has no right to appeal.

It has been reported that Nina Reiser was strangled, but police Tuesday would not confirm the cause of death.

Reiser's sentencing is now entirely up to a judge, and prosecutors say though the terms were laid out in advance, it's not final.

THE BACK STORY: Thoughts from a Reiser family friend


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