Hans Reiser Laughs During Court Proceedings
Dec. 13 - BCN -- Oakland computer programmer Hans Reiser repeatedly laughed in court and whispered in his lawyer's ear today as prosecutors presented circumstantial evidence aimed at proving that he murdered his wife Nina Reiser, who disappeared on Sept. 3.
Reiser's preliminary hearing, which began Monday, adjourned at the end of the day today and will resume next Wednesday, when prosecutors will present DNA evidence in the case.
After court adjourned, Reiser's attorney, William DuBois, confidently said he thinks prosecutors haven't yet presented enough evidence to convince Alameda County Superior Court Judge Julie Conger to order Reiser, 43, to stand trial.
DuBois said that for the prosecution's sake "the DNA evidence had better be hot stuff."
Defense attorneys normally don't present evidence at preliminary hearings, but DuBois said he's considering calling witnesses because he thinks the prosecution's case is "teetering on the brink" and he thinks he might be able to "push it over the brink."
But during a break in today's hearing, prosecutor Greg Dolge said testimony in the hearing shows Hans Reiser was "avoiding police at all costs" and his behavior is "evidence of a guilty conscience."
Nina Reiser, 31, who was trained as a gynecologist in Russia, was last seen about 2 p.m. on Sept. 3 when she dropped off the couple's two children at Hans Reiser's home at 6979 Exeter Drive in Oakland's Montclair District.
Hans Reiser and Nina Reiser married in 1999 but separated in May of 2004. They were undergoing contentious divorce proceedings at the time she disappeared but the divorce wasn't finalized.
Nina Reiser was awarded both legal and physical custody of the couple's 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter but Hans Reiser was allowed to have the children one weeknight a week and every other weekend.
Nina Reiser's body hasn't been found, but in October Hans Reiser was charged with murdering her after Oakland police said they found biological and trace evidence suggesting that she is dead as well as blood evidence tying him to her death. He's being held in custody without bail.
Dressed in black pants and a black t-shirt for the third straight day, Hans Reiser smiled cheerfully and conferred with DuBois today while Oakland police officer Gino Guerrero testified that Reiser hid his car in a quiet West Berkeley neighborhood after his wife disappeared.
Guerrero said Reiser engaged in a lengthy cat-and-mouse game with surveillance officers who were trailing him the evening of Sept. 18, fifteen days after Nina Reiser was last seen alive.
Guerrero said officers trailed Hans Reiser, both by car and by airplane, after he left family court at 600 Washington St. in Oakland, which is in the same block as the Oakland police station, late in the afternoon of Sept. 18.
Reiser had been in court that day for a hearing to determine where his children should stay. They currently are in foster care.
According to a probable cause statement in the case, Reiser and a male friend "appeared to be conducting counter surveillance" to avoid police by driving at varying speeds, turning down small quiet residential streets and making abrupt stops.
Guerrero said Reiser and his friend had dinner at an Albany restaurant and afterward the friend dropped Reiser off at the corner of San Pablo and Ashby avenues in Berkeley.
Guerrero said Reiser walked around the area furtively, stopping occasionally to look in all directions, and eventually got into a 1988 Honda CRX that was parked on Acton Street near Carleton Street in Berkeley.
Guerrero said police then followed Reiser as he drove the car to 2425 Monterey Road in Oakland. According to the probable cause statement, the location is less than three miles away from the Exeter Drive house where Reiser was living with his mother, Beverly Palmer.
Palmer testified yesterday that she had been out of town the weekend Nina Reiser disappeared and was surprised that her son was driving her car, a 2003 Honda Hybrid, and that his Honda CRX wasn't at the house.
Palmer said that when she asked her son where the CRX was, he said it wasn't working and "he'd take care of it and I should never mind."
Guerrero said that when officers examined Reiser's Honda CRX, they noticed that it was missing its front right passenger seat.
Officer Jesse Grant testified that when he detained Reiser on Sept. 28 in accordance with a search warrant for a DNA swab and photographs, Reiser had $8,960 in cash in his fanny pack as well as his passport and a receipt for a siphon pump from a Kragen Auto Parts store in Hayward on Sept. 10.
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