Anyone following the murder trial of Hans Reiser?

He’s been found guilty, even though the body of his wife was never found.

Color me gobsmacked. Although I thought he did it, I didn’t think the jury would unless they had a corpus delictii (sp?).

A very quick summing-up: An Oakland, California computer genius but very socially strange man married a Russian woman doctor, and they eventually went through an acriminious divorce. During one of her child visitations, she disappeared and has never been seen again. Many suspicious doing were testified to at the trial, but most damning of all was Mr. Reiser’s testimony, which showed him as narcissistic, selfish and strange.

Wow. Whoda thunk it?

Please tell me he no longer has custody of these kids. (I cannot handle Bad Things happening to kids today…)
I don’t think this is the first time a jury has convicted without a body–what about the guy who put his wife’s body through the wood chipper a few years ago?

There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say. :eek:

We had a spousal wood-chipper case here in Saskatchewan about 10 years ago. Is that the one you’re thinking of, or are there just way more sickos out there than I had realised? :frowning:

The kids are living with their maternal grandmother in Russia, thank goodness.

There was at least one in the NYC/CT/MA area about 15-20 years ago, too. ISTR it involved a former Playboy centerfold and stewardess killed by her soon-to-be ex-husband.

I had sort of followed the trial; there was lots of weirdness there, not least the defendant’s demeanor and post-disappearance conduct (you took the passenger seat out of your car?!?!?), and I didn’t see how the jury wouldn’t convict. It’ll be interesting to see if it holds up on appeal.

NB: corpus delicti does not involve corpses.

Another odd thing about this case, besides the Reiser being a nutball and basically talking himself into prison, is that a former lover of the woman who was killed has confessed to 8 murders.




Yeah, there was a precedent setting case a long time ago that involved a large volume of blood soaked into a carpet, through the lining to the floor. They didn’t have a body, but the Prosecutor proved that the amount of blood volume lost would certainly be fatal without prompt medical care, and even then probably fatal. (I think I am recalling that last bit correctly.) There were no records to be found of her getting medical treatment, and so the Prosecutor won the right to hold up the bloody carpet as the “body” in the case and got a conviction. They changed the wording of that state’s laws to reflect this case. Now, they just need to prove that a grave, likely fatal injury was done in that state. Other states too, I believe.

I think what thelurkinghorror means is that the term refers to a figurative body of evidence, rather than a human body.

Bizarre that his own attorney compared him to a duck-billed platypus, and that he had a best friend named Sean Sturgeon. :dubious:

This line from the linked story is rather poorly written:

“(The jury) convicted the computer programmer of first-degree murder in the death of Nina Reiser after concluding that her slaying in 2006 was deliberate and premeditated even though her body was never found.”

Carefully concealing the body doesn’t exactly argue against premeditation.

Well, you could accidently kill someone and then lose the body. Happens all the time. Why, just last week, I–

Well, it used to be that you couldn’t try someone for murder without an actual body in more than one state. (Not a collection of evidence.) I was giving the details (what I recalled) about the groundbreaking case that changed all that. The blood was the evidence of murder, and it counted as a “body” and the person was tried and convicted.

In at least one such case they found enough bone and tooth fragments to say fairly authoritatively that a body had been disposed of in this manner. bottom of the page.

It seems in this case there’s no body at all.

There was blood, in the home, and in Hans’ car. Evidence of serious, probably fatal injury. No records she went to the hospital, so it is safe to say she is dead.

Precisely. That’s not to say that it doesn’t involve a body, but etymologically it doesn’t mean “corpse.”

Yes, but considering he’s not in prison, or even charged, it seems likely that he’s just a nutcase.

You a lawyer, Zab? (Not being sarcastic here - if you are, then you can provide a cite.) There are an awful lot of urban legends about this, many driven by crime fiction, because it makes such a neat premise, much like the double jeopardy thing.

But in truth, trials for bodyless murders are common enough; I would guess they would arise at a rate of a single-digit percentage of all murder trials, but given the many murders that occur, that translates to a reasonable number in absolute terms.

Usually the evidence involves the victim’s sudden disappearance and cessation of regular contact with relatives, acquaintances and (more importantly) banks, work and sources of money; evidence of motive; evidence of opportunity; conflicting accounts from the suspect as to the circumstances of the disappearance; maybe sometimes theft of the victim’s stuff; oblique admissions. That sort of thing. The absence of a body is of course a potential difficulty, but not of itself a bar to prosecution. People have been killing people and dumping their bodies without discovery of the bodies forever. To convict, you don’t need bloodstains (although they help). Plenty of people have been murdered by being pushed off a boat, drowned in the surf, and so on.

I would be very surprised indeed if there had been an explicit law that prevented conviction for murder without the proof of discovery of a body. Feel free to fight my ignorance.

Sorry to re-animate this thread, but I thought the info listed here would be a natural lead-up to the breaking news that Reiser has led them to Nina’s body, in hopes of gaining a more lenient sentence.

Another article here:

I was hoping he didn’t do it, but the soaked car and missing passenger seat was just a little too weird.