Trial of ReiserFS programmer takes bizarre turn

Accused murderer's father testifies he had warned his son about "techno-geeks" who are into sadomasochism, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

The ongoing murder trial of Hans Reiser , the 44-year-old Oakland, Calif., computer programmer accused of killing his wife, took a rather interesting turn Wednesday with rambling testimony from Reiser's father, who said he had warned his son about "techno-geeks" who are into sadomasochism, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Hans Reiser mug
Hans Reiser via Stanford University

Yep, you read that right. During a break with jurors present, the witness, Ramon Reiser, 65, also did one-armed push-ups in the courtroom, the Chronicle wrote.

The trial has been living up to predictions it would be one of the most sensational in local recent memory. Driving that theory are Reiser's prominence in developer circles as the founder of the ReiserFS file system software available for Linux; the fact that the body of his estranged wife has never been recovered; and the national TV coverage, including a spot on ABC's 20/20.

Hans Reiser's defense opened Tuesday by portraying the victim, his estranged wife Nina Reiser, as an adulteress and a possible embezzler, the Chronicle reported. Hans Reiser has long suggested that Nina Reiser might not be dead after all, but could be hiding in her native Russia after stealing money from her husband's former company Namesys . The couple's 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter now live with their maternal grandmother in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The Reisers married in 1999, but separated in May 2004 and were undergoing contentious divorce proceedings when Nina Reiser, 31, disappeared on September 3, 2006.

Nina Reiser, a Russia-trained obstetrician and gynecologist, was last seen when she dropped the children off with Hans Reiser at his mother's house, where he was living at the time. Although her minivan was later found with groceries inside, efforts to find her body--including search and rescue efforts and reward offers--have been fruitless, according to news accounts.

Expert witnesses testified during the trial about biological and trace evidence found, suggesting Nina Reiser is dead, and also tying her husband to the death.

Getting back to Ramon Reiser's testimony--which reportedly drew smiles from jurors and objections from the prosecuting attorney--he talked of warnings he had given his son that if he antagonized anyone over his relationship with his wife, he might be surveilled by people associated with the former KGB--or more likely by "those who are highly sophisticated in technology who are into S&M...," according to the Chronicle.

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About the author

Michelle Meyers, associate editor, has been writing and editing CNET News stories since 2005. But she's still working to shed some of her old newspaper ways, first honed when copy was actually cut and pasted. When she's not fixing typos and tightening sentences, she's working with reporters on story ideas, tracking media happenings, or freshening up CNET News' home page.


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