Judge: Reiser could have served 3 years

July 9, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Convicted murderer Hans Reiser was back in court Wednesday. He still hasn't been sentenced, but the judge wanted to set the record straight on the status of his plea deal. The judge revealed that Reiser could have gotten a three-year sentence for manslaughter if he had agreed to make a deal and take police to his wife's body before the trial ever started.

Reiser led police to his wife's body in the Oakland Hills on Monday. If he had done that before his trial started last year, he would likely now be finishing up a three-year sentence offered by the judge.

Reiser's lawyer, William Du Bois, doesn't know why he didn't take it.

"He was offered manslaughter -- three years, the court offered him three years. If I was the last person to see my ex-wife, regardless of whether I had anything to do with her being missing, I would take three years in the blind," says Du Bois.

However, prosecutor Paul Hora says though Judge Goodman might have offered Reiser a deal, he never did because the first requirement was a body.

"The first step that has to be taken before any deal can take place of any kind is I have to have Nina, and without Nina there's no deal," says Hora.

Now Hora does have Nina and another deal is on the table.

Judge Larry Goodman will decide if Reiser will be sentenced as he was convicted, for first-degree murder, or for the lesser crime of second-degree murder. Under the lesser crime, he could be considered for parole in 15 years instead of 25. However, there are requirements beyond producing the body. Neither side will say what those are.

"I would insist that Reiser for once get up and tell us the truth, tell us what he did and why he did it. I would insist that he do that before he sees the autopsy report," says ABC7 News legal consultant Dean Johnson

Juror David Turner is glad Nina's family and friends won't have to spend the rest of their lives wondering what became of her, although he's amazed it took a six-month trial to get there.

"To have it turn out where he admits guilt after all that, it's kind of disconcerting, but that's the way it is, that's our system. That's the best we have," says Turner.

Reiser remains in Santa Rita Jail. He's due back in court on August 13. Between now and then, his attorneys plan to have him examined by psychiatrists. They'd still like to prove he was incompetent to stand trial.

ABC7 LEGAL BLOG: Legal analyst Dean Johnson examines the Reiser deal

THE BACK STORY: Thoughts from a Reiser family friend


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