[svlug] More info on the Reiser tragedy

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Oct 16 00:30:55 PDT 2006

Quoting Karen Shaeffer (shaeffer at neuralscape.com):

> http://www.insidebayarea.com/ci_4486527?source=rss
> Now, if even half of that stuff printed in that article is
> true, then it really looks to be a worse case scenario here.

Indeed it does.  I'm honestly not sure about the merits of the case, but 
only hope that the trial permits better scrutiny of relevant facts than 
Officer Gill's statement.  Here are some analysis points I made on a
private mailing list:

[a friend wrote:]

> Obviously, we can't draw conclusions until later, but this ain't
> looking good :(

If every bit of evidence was _actually_ as damning as the police's press
conferences -- held to boost their conviction percentages and prejudice
juries, and inherently immune from cross-examination -- claimed, we'd
all be rotting in prison, I think.

None of us really know.  Anyway, the worst of it is what all this is
doing to the children, as Royce says.

[the same friend wrote:]

> Thanks for the details. This is looking worse by the minute :(

Yes, but this gets back to Royce's point:  Oakland PD and the Alameda
County DA's office basically get to conduct a prosecution by press
conference for a while, hoping to score PR points and maybe if they're
lucky taint the jury -- without the risk of cross-examination -- and you
have no idea what's true but twisted absurdly out of context, what's
inaccurate, and what's absolute bollocks.  All you know is that it's a
_story_ the police are telling about things they think are true, and
about things they believe are true -- some but not all of it attested to
in a sworn affadavit.  (Officer Gill's risk of a perjury trial even
if he tells whoppers is pretty small, as long as he can defensibly
claim it's what he thought at the time.)

Consider that bit about buying two books on murder investigations.

Imagine some guy (to make this being theoretical for a moment, and not
necessarily about Hans) who hears that his estranged wife (and mother
of their children) has disappeared and is feared murdered.  Police
search his house, take far away and interview his kids, pointedly
question his wife's boyfriend, attempt to question him, attempt to
question his mother, search his and his mother's house and dig up the
yard with corpse-sniffing dogs.  He notices that police are tailing him
whenever he drives anywhere.

Five days later, he goes to the nearest large bookstore and buys two
non-fiction books about murder investigations.

Is this _really_ evidence that he's a murderer -- or is it just a
logical and reasonable reaction to the foregoing sequence of events?

If the police wanted to make _you_ look suspicious after weeks of 24
hour surveillance, and didn't mind citing selected allegations like the
above and spinning them to make them look sinister, I'm sure they could
make you come across as a psychotic axe-murderer, too.

[another friend wrote:]

> Some of the pieces of 'evidence' don't seem to fit together very well
> The missing car seat doesn't seem to make sense if she was killed in
> the house where the blood splatter was. Is he going to take his dead
> wife, wrap her in trash bags, and sit her in the front seat? Bodies
> belong in the trunk or at least the back seat.

I was thinking that, and also about Oakland PD's statement that the seat
_had_ been present in the car when Hans's was traffic-stopped by
an officer in Redwood City a bit over a week after Nina's disappearance.
Two things:

1.  If you've just killed your estranged spouse on Sept. 3 and even
_think_ you might have gotten her blood (or such) on it while disposing
of the body, wouldn't you unbolt and replace it _then_, rather than
junking and _not_ replacing it after the police have already started
tailing you and digging up your house foundations and yards?

2.  FWIW, although the Redwood City officer had mentioned the seat's
presence during the traffic stop, he didn't notice anything like blood

So, the police's suggestion is that Hans was too stupid to get rid of
the seat at the time of the murder, suddenly realised his ommision weeks
later, well into the missing person / murder investigation, but then
failed to realise that he should bolt in a replacement seat if he didn't
want to call attention to his act.

Extremely inept criminal, or just somebody who for unrelated reasons
removed a car seat:  Take your pick.

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