Opening statements began Wednesday in the wrongful death suit filed against Hans Reiser, a man convicted in 2008 of murdering his wife and burying her body in the Oakland Hills.
The plaintiff's attorney, Arturo Gonzalez, who is representing the Reiser's children, showed pictures to the Hayward-based jury of the children with their mother, Nina Reiser, and said a relationship with a mother is "priceless." He added: "The message I want to send is that this is completely unacceptable."
Reiser, who was convicted in 2008 of killing his wife and burying her body in the Oakland Hills two years earler, at first, acknowledged his wife was wonderful and had a beautiful voice. After crying a bit, he then lit into her character flaws, and admitted to killing her, not realizing at the time, he said, of how jealous she was of her children. Court documents filed in this case state he killed his wife in order to protect his children from her.
Reiser is acting as both attorney and defendant in this civil case, which is expected to resume Thursday.
The jury must decide whether Reiser, who is currently serving a prison term for the murder of his wife, has to pay damages to his children, ages 11 and 12, and who are living with grandparents in Russia. Reiser was a computer engineer and any profits his products sell for could therefore go to his children if the jury decides in their favor.
Gonzalez's San Francisco firm, Morrison & Foerster, is working pro bono on behalf of Reiser's two children.
In the murder case, Reiser and his legal team had argued that his wife was not dead, but had left her children to sneak away to Russia. The jury didn't buy that story.