back to article Linux guru Hans Reiser convicted of first-degree murder

A jury has convicted Hans Reiser, developer of the ReiserFS filesystem for Linux, of first degree murder for killing his estranged wife in 2006 even though her body was never found. As the verdict was read in Alameda County Superior Court, Reiser furrowed his brows. Dressed in the same dark coat he's worn for months, the 44-year …

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Unhappy

Holy cow

How can he be done for first degree murder on circumstantial evidence only.... that seems very strange.

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Anonymous Coward

Cellphone battery removed

Another piece of evidence that I thought was significant was that he had his wife's cell phone but had removed the battery (presumably to prevent it's location from being tracked). Can anyone think of any other reasonable reason to remove the battery from a cell phone?

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Coat

No more complaints about US Legals

I guess this signals the end of Euros thumbing their high and mighty noses at Americans for having such a f*cked Legal system. Glad to see EU courts are just as stupid as US courts.

Mines long, black, and flowing...with the wig.

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Stop

Re: No more complaints about US Legals

Am I confused or are you? This was tried in California.

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Anonymous Coward

Cellphone battery

> Can anyone think of any other reasonable reason to remove the battery from a cell phone?

To keep it from getting wet? Most cell phone batteries have an indicator that changes if it gets wet...

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Re Re: No more complaints about US Legals

Umm didnt Know Oakland Ca was in the EU.

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Anonymous Coward

Circumstantial evidence

DNA, video, fingerprints, etc can all be circumstantial too. Circumstantial evidence is often more compelling and reliable than first-hand accounts, and lets face it, many murders happen without any witnesses. It seems one commenter misunderstands what first-degree murder is. First-degree doesn't mean the evidence is any better or worse, it means the murder was planned ahead of time (even 1 minute ahead of time, or less). In this case the prosecution was able to paint a story of an very planned out murder. Why should someone of obvious guilt go free just because there are no first-hand witnesses!

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sick

"Seriously, I hope the lady has just escaped from this marriage and is keeping herself hidden away. "

You cant just hide away when someone is being tried for your murder! If this was in another state , he could well be executed.

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Anonymous Coward

Can anyone think of any other reasonable reason to remove the battery from a cell phone?

To drive the propeller on your hat obviously....although the file system link makes me think hard drive cooling fans.

Don't they get computers in the slammer these days? It might actually make reiserfs work better.

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Armchair Jurists

I wouldn't try to second guess a detailed trial with many weeks of testimony. A good piece of free software was created by a convicted murderer.

This doesn't have any bearing on the usefulness of what he wrote. Nor has be profited from ReiserFS. His principle benefit was status in the free software community, which is now nil.

Free software is, of its very nature, amoral.

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Anonymous Coward

Not a Linux programmer

Not that it matters, but Reiser never programmed Linux which is the cernel after all.

We do not know if he is a murderer or not.

We know he was a rather "difficult" person, however.

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Paris Hilton

Gotta be richer to get away with murder.

I am not sure how much money the guy earned but he didnt get rich enough to get away with murder.

Under (unwritten) California law nobody rich and famous gets convicted for murder ( see Phil Spector, OJ Simpson et al). Whereas being poor gets you life in no time at all.

This puts the Linux community in somewhat of an impass. Should we protest the sentence on the grounds that "being famous among geeks" is as good as being famous among chat show viewers? Should we query our commitment to Open Source as we will never make enough money to be able to off the significant other and walk out of the courtroom?

Paris - she could give some helpful tips on how to cope with jail time (at least the first 18 hours anyway).

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Heart

How did this ever happen?

Geeks aren't supposed to get married, are they?

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Surreal

This is a surreal case and he seems to have been convicted in the belief that his post-murder actions were incompetent, and his explanations are too twisted to be true, and the simplest answer is that he's lying.

And a conviction does seem rather safe.

But why is the circumstantial evidence so overwhelming because of this incompetence, and yet he had the clarity of thought to dispose of the body so thoroughly?

He can't get rid of the books, or car, but he can dispose of a body and, presumably, a weapon?

I have more faith in the jury's decision than my own half-baked thoughts, but... I'd like to think that it could be proved beyond all reasonable doubt one day...

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Resier FS already gone...

I run SuSE, and for the past two releases, the default FS is now EXT3. SuSE changed to EXT3 not long after the arrest of Hans, probably because Namesys, his company to develop and promote the Reiser file system, went out of business shortly after his arrest.

After reading the WIRED articles on the case, Hans didn't do himself any favors during the trial. While circumstantial evidence doesn't usually make a prima facia case for murder, given his various testimonies, contradictions and just odd-ball actions it could certainly have done so here. Regardless of his guilt, he certainly did not paint the best possible picture for a jury.

Unfortunately, when a case goes to jury trial in the US, it is usually either (a) the accused is not bright and wants "his day in court" regardless of the evidence or (more likely)(b): the evidence is so fubared already that there is no clear-cut case one way or another. Having sat on a number of juries myself, every case I heard in trial was of the latter type - and the real conviction or acquittal comes down to how the defendant and prosecution "look" to the jury.

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Silver badge

Reiserfs already had problems

Reiserfs was useful for a while, but there were good reasons to pick something else before Nina Reiser disappeared suspiciously.

http://blog.linuxoss.com/2006/09/27/suse-102-ditching-reiserfs-as-it-default-fs/

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Anonymous Coward

one assumes..

that he'll have plenty of time on his hands for coding now. i look forward to a new improved version of reiserFS. as long as he stays with file systems and doesn't try to re-write some of the core functions. i'm not letting him near my processes!

would this constitute an investment by the government in opensource?

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Circumstantial

It's already been said, but it's perfectly true. There is nothing wrong with circumstantial.

200 unlikely coincidences pointing to someone's guilt shouldn't be ignored. It's up to the jury to decide how incriminating each piece of evidence is and whether it's believable when the defence says "That wasn't her blood in his car from when she was murdered, it was just that she had the painters in."

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Coat

@Anonycow

"lets face it, many murders happen without any witnesses."

I think there are usually two witnesses, unfortunately one is not left in a state to testify and the other is not likely to give a very honest testimony.

Mine is the all in one NBS suit to keep the DNA in.

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@Justin White

> Glad to see EU courts are just as stupid as US courts.

Glad to see your American knowledge of world geography is just as 'f*cked' as we Euros suspected.

You're not related to Miss Teen South Carolina 2007, are you?

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Coat

Prove

That being a linux zealot leads to being criminally insane.

Mine's the one with the arms tied round the back

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Laptop in Prison?

I vote they let him continue to code from his cell.

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Linux

What do you mean, "Not a Linux Programmer" ??

"Not that it matters, but Reiser never programmed Linux which is the cernel after all."

Rubbish. The kernel's MAINTAINERS file lists one Hans Reiser under "REISERFS FILE SYSTEM".

I expect that will have to change though.

I wonder if resierfs4 gird its metaphoric loins and move ahead now the trial is over ...

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Can anyone think of any other reasonable reason to remove the battery from a cell

Well yeah - to use the battery in your other phone. Or perhaps the battery cover had fallen off. Or perhaps the charging connector had bust and the battery needed to be charged in a separate phone. Lots of reasons.

And "Reiser never programmed Linux which is the cernel after all" - where do you think the filesystem code lives, pray?

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Linux

Something is not quite right ?

I have a bad feeling that the prosecutor has deliberately with held key information to make the missing victim look like an angel , and yet as we are all well aware in a bitter contested acrimonious separation/divorce where money and other wealth assets are the key component of the contest this is never the case as a certain Heather versus Paul has shown the dark side of how low some women will go to obtain that which does not belong to them in the first place !

Sadly insufficient data to properly assess the situation other then the average fact that that US Injustice system on the whole with well over 2.2 million inmates approximately ten per cent that are incarcerated within , are in reality innocent of the crimes they were primarily convicted of in the first place by a basically corrupt and out control legal system which gives credence to Prosecutor who tell lies and knowingly chooses to with hold exonerating evidence and overlook a number of legal technicalities that he forgets to tell the jurors in his summation evidence and a defence system where these lawyer wankers are usually it turns out the best mates of the prosecutors on the day of the conviction have been asleep at the wheel for the entire duration of the trial !

Choices , something is not quite right but I cannot put the finger on it due to lack of relative data , one would really need to totally study the entire transcript of the trial the DA pre case file with all police notes and not the ones used in the trial in it's entirety including all evidence and a thorough of background check on the technical witnesses supplied as government official witnesses both submitted and that has been with held from the jurors , to come to a proper conclusion as to the fairness of the trial !

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circumstantial vs...

Eye witness. Very few murderers are convicted by eye-witness evidence.

Amateur murders are usually the most brutal, as it is actually quite hard to kill someone, and there is blood and screaming and agony involved, and your first-timers (as opposed to hit-men) tend to need to use rage to complete the job, meaning excess brutality (ie if the killing weren't bad enough).

The taboo against killing is so strong in humans that armies ahve to semi-brainwash recruits to get them to the killing point. Studies from WWII showed that about 1 in 3 soldiers were ever firing at any time, the others being 'frozen' for periods of a few seconds to a few minutes.

So this murder is nothing to joke about, but the loss of a human being, a mother of two children, for some reason that was not worth a life.

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Coat

I wonder..

How open source the whole investigation is.

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It's a shame.

Everyone lost here:

Nina because she is dead (or at least has lost contact with her kids)

Hans because he'll be in jail for a long time, and his reputation is ruined

The kids because they have lost both their parents

Californians because they are paying the bill for the trial and jail time

Linux fans because ReiserFS will probably go by the wayside

Moral of the story - 'buying' a bride will get you just what you paid for - someone who is willing to sell themselves. What kind of marriage can you build from a start like that? I feel sorry for the kids..

@paul - If a person can be angry & crazy enough to plan a murder in advance including thinking about how to hide or destroy the evidence, a person can also be angry & crazy enough to frame another for a murder and keep quiet about it. And, just like murder, once you have started, you can't change your mind and back out of it - Nina (if she is in hiding) would be prosecuted and jailed if she turned up, just like Hans (if he did it) would be prosecuted for attempted murder if he started and then changed his mind before killing her.

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IT Angle

Update on other comments

"ow can he be done for first degree murder on circumstantial evidence only.... that seems very strange."

You have been swayed by TV rime stories that use the word "circumstantial" as if it were a bad thing. Most evidence is circumstantial. It is stating that the "circumstances" shows that the likely outcome is that he killed her,

"I have a bad feeling that the prosecutor has deliberately with held key information to make the missing victim look like an angel , and yet as we are all well aware in a bitter contested acrimonious separation/divorce where money and other wealth assets are the key component of the contest this is never the case as a certain Heather versus Paul has shown the dark side of how low some women will go to obtain that which does not belong to them in the first place !"

Most US states force the prosecution to disclose ALL evidence gathered, Key or otherwise. Not to do so can either force a retrial or dismissal of the case. Having a large sleeping bag cover stained with her blood, is a little difficult to explain.

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@Something is not quite right ?

If the missing person/victim wasn't an angel, and the prosecutor avoided mentioning that, wouldn't it be up to the defence to do so, if they thought it would help?

In any case, the *less* angelic the missing person was, the *greater* the motive might appear to be, unless maybe it pointed to some credible other explanation for the disappearance just at the point when Reiser decided to do some extreme valeting.

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Paris Hilton

@ Chris Bradshaw : Buying a bride

I always take the ones with a 30 days return garantee.

I haven't yet found one "satisfied or reimbursed" yet, but I'll keep an eye out.

-Paris, because she already got returned more than once -

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No body no weapon no murder?

The issue I have with this conviction is that it does not seem that the prosecution has even managed to show a murder took place. They do not have a murder scene, let alone a body. There is no murder weapon. It seems to me this man has been convicted of murder because he is a bit weird.

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@Chris Bradshaw

"Buying a bride"?!?! WTF?!?!

This is a human being that you are talking about. She met him, moved to be with him, and married him. How's that different from any other marriage, other than that she started out in a different part of the world? I get incredibly sick of this "mail order bride" crap, and the underlying assumption that you can buy a wife. It adds a salacious element to the story of a very sick individual who did awful things to someone he should have been loving and cherishing and when she'd had enough of this treatment, he had the nerve to take her life. If that woman had been the girl next door, would you be spouting shite about how you aren't supposed to marry the girl next door?

People have to lose this whole attitude about marrying people from different backgrounds and look at the marriage as a marriage between two people with equal status before the law. Let me tell you something -- the women in different parts of the world looking for marriage are not looking for a free meal ticket -- they are looking for happiness, just like anybody else, and the creeps that take advantage of that ought to be stomped out like the insects they are. I've married a woman from Russia, and you couldn't find a kinder, sweeter, smarter, more loving wife, with a mind of her own, and strength and courage to do the impossible in order to find happiness. To demean this kind of spirit as "selling themselves" speaks volumes to what kind of bigotry and mysogyny you practice.

If you had any comprehension of what kind of woman does this, how seriously they take marriage, how seriously they take family, you'd know what kind of neanderthal you are. This talk about framing him is distraction. She was a Russian woman -- if she isn't with her kids, she's dead. It's as simple as that.

I wish CA had the electric chair just for this creep, so that on the day they fry that beast, I could turn my air conditioner off so they'd have a few joules more energy to send him to hell.

Anon. because I don't want you knowing which of your neighbors thinks you're a troll.

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@david wilson

"If the missing person/victim wasn't an angel, and the prosecutor avoided mentioning that, wouldn't it be up to the defence to do so, if they thought it would help?"

The defence has to decide whether to go for a not-guilty verdict or for a lesser conviction. (The UK offence of manslaughter e.g. based on temporary insanity of the killer, is I think the same as the US one of second degree murder.) They can't logically go for both, because to go for the lesser offence they have to first admit that he did it.

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