A software programmer accused of murdering his estranged wife
described her as extravagant and unfaithful as he sketched a picture of his
marital troubles for jurors Wednesday.
But Hans Reiser said he still cares for his wife and would never deprive his
two children of their mother.
Reiser, 44, is accused of killing Nina Reiser amid a bitter custody dispute.
Nina Reiser, who was 31 at the time, hasn't been seen since she dropped off
the couple's two children at Hans Reiser's home over the 2006 Labor Day
Although no body has been found, prosecutors say DNA and other evidence
points to Reiser. They have called witnesses who described Nina Reiser as
the sort of person who would never abandon her children.
Reiser, who spent his second day on the stand Wednesday, has pleaded not
guilty, with his lawyers saying it's not proven that his wife is dead and
she may have run away to her native Russia. He has testified that the last
time he saw Nina Reiser she was driving away from his home.
Investigators who later searched Reiser's Honda CRX found that he had
removed the passenger seat, a fact he explained on the stand Wednesday.
Reiser said he took the seat out to make room for sleeping in his car. After
a 1999 weightlifting accident that broke his legs, he told jurors that
sleeping there was more comfortable for keeping his legs elevated.
Under questioning from defense attorney William Du Bois, Reiser also went
through a chronology of his marriage to Nina Reiser, whom he met through a
Russian marriage agency in 1999.
The couple had two children - a son in 1999 and a daughter in 2001 -
sometimes living in the United States and sometimes in Russia. Things soured
in 2002, the year Nina Reiser confessed to having an affair with his friend,
Sean Sturgeon, Reiser said.
"I think that her reason for having an affair with Sean was as much to upset
me as to have an affair with Sean," Reiser said.
Du Bois asked if he was upset.
"Not as upset as she wanted me to be," said Reiser. "I forgave her and we
decided to continue on with the marriage."
But things started to unravel as his money ran short, said Reiser. He said
Nina Reiser charged thousands of dollars on clothes at a time when he was
having to cut his programmers' salaries.
The two also argued over video games Hans Reiser wanted to play with the
In 2004, Nina Reiser filed for divorce and told Hans Reiser to move out.
Reiser said he did poorly in divorce proceedings at first, but things
improved after he got a new lawyer in 2006. He said his relationship with
Nina Reiser improved after that.
Despite their problems, Hans Reiser said he still has feelings for Nina
Reiser. And he said he loves their children.
"Would you ever deprive them of their mother?" asked Du Bois.
"No," Reiser said.