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The Courts News

Hans Reiser Gets Sentence of 15-To-Life 553

Posted by Soulskill
from the bye-now dept.
mallumax writes "Hans Reiser was today handed a prison sentence of 15-to-life for murdering his wife. Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty and led police to his wife's body. His jury trial concluded in April with Reiser's first-degree murder conviction. That carries a 25-to-life term, but the authorities, in a backroom deal, later offered him 15-to-life if he produced his wife's body and waived any rights to appeal his conviction." Several other readers contributed coverage at SFGate.
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Hans Reiser Gets Sentence of 15-To-Life

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  • by Toonol (1057698) on Friday August 29, 2008 @11:15PM (#24806261)
    And remember that both the conviction and the sentence were handed down by people who know far more about the case than any of us. And 'reasonable doubt' is different than 'complete mathematical certainty.'
  • by bigstrat2003 (1058574) * on Friday August 29, 2008 @11:20PM (#24806321)
    I honestly don't know how anyone could think he's realistically innocent. He pointed them to his wife's body, confessed, not to mention the fact that there was already enough evidence to convict him at the trial. Sure, it's not a mathematical certainty, but justice never is.
  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Friday August 29, 2008 @11:41PM (#24806473)

    He voluntarily killed and disposed of the body of the mother of his children. There isn't room in society for people that do that. Murder is that red line that we let far too many people get away with. I take more of the old bible view of murder, it's just not acceptable under any circumstance and the people that do it shouldn't be allowed around the rest of us ever again.

  • by stygar (539704) on Friday August 29, 2008 @11:44PM (#24806501)
    Yes, it sucks that he was still able to plead down from the sentence he should get, but it's not just about punishing him. The deal included him confessing and waiving his right to appeal, so it all ends now. What's it worth to not have him game the appeals system for a decade? Or to avoid having to drag his kids into court to testify again in a new trial three or five years down the road? Or for Nina's family to finally be able to bury her? Or to keep her body from being found by some kids next summer?
  • by glitch23 (557124) on Friday August 29, 2008 @11:48PM (#24806531)

    Now let's hope some fellow inmate does what needs to be done, and puts an end to this vile piece of garbage.

    You are no better than him if you are advocating someone murder him. One murder does not justify another.

  • by jd (1658) <imipak@nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Friday August 29, 2008 @11:56PM (#24806601) Homepage Journal
    He is able to write, so technically he can help the community - say by documenting Reiser4, or writing down some of his ideas. True, it's not as good as if he was in the outside world, but it's better than nothing. Personally, I think criminals who have verifiable mental issues would be better in a hospital (with equal confinement and punitive measures, but focussed on curative action). Those who have committed crimes they are unlikely to repeat, possibly including Hans, might be better off in a smaller, more secure, facility intended for rehabilitation. Purely punitive systems should really be restricted to those who are unwilling to change except under duress. And, frankly, I don't think there are many such people. There was a good blog discussion about that on the BBC website recently, with a lot of hostility from prison guards, prison governers and social workers to Victorian-style systems except as a last-resort, and not much more patience for the panoptican idea (a prison where a central warden can see into every cell directly from a central station.-
  • by something_wicked_thi (918168) on Friday August 29, 2008 @11:59PM (#24806615)

    That's idiotic. They already had a conviction. They made the deal so they would have the body for the victim's family, and so they could avoid appellate court.

  • by justinlee37 (993373) on Friday August 29, 2008 @11:59PM (#24806619)

    Remember kids, murdering the woman you promised to love and cherish and who gave you two children is EVIL.

    Why don't we pick more philosophically neutral terminology, like, "murdering ... is destructive" or "murdering ... is wasteful?" Those are words that everyone can understand. "EVIL," on the other hand, is a subjective idea that lacks a commonly-held operational definition.

  • simply because he wrote a file system

    are you ready to examine prejudice at work in your mind?

    many scowl at black people who defend oj simpson simply out of racial affinity

    well now you know, in your mind, is the same process at work

  • by Firehed (942385) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:00AM (#24806631) Homepage

    If only the "holy war" types would make that same connection...

    Regardless I wouldn't claim it to be quite that black and white, but then it also depends whether you consider murder to be taking a life under any circumstances or just under the legalese definitions/circumstances.

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:01AM (#24806647)

    He can't appeal. That is part of pretty much any plea: You have to allocute to the crime (testify as to the details under oath) and wave the right to appeal.

    Even if he had no real chance at winning an appeal, he could cost the government a lot of time and money by filing appeals.

    That another reason that prosecutors like getting plea bargains. When you admit you did it, you generally have to accept the consequences and don't get to appeal later. Thus even in the case of some courtroom convictions, they are willing to make a deal similar to this. You don't get away with it, but if you'll own up to what you did and relinquish the right to contest your conviction, you get a lighter sentence.

    Plus, of course, closure is important to the family and friends. I'm sure there are people out there who loved Nina Reiser. Knowing for sure what happened and being able to have a funeral goes a long way.

  • by Obyron (615547) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:06AM (#24806681)
    Because only in the freest country on earth are prison rape, gang beatings, and physical torture at the hands of sadistic miscreants NOT considered cruel and unusual! I have a hard time believing my fellow Americans are any more decent than the prisoners they say they hate when they talk about how so and so deserves to be raped in the showers. People are fucking disgusting.
  • by Orange Crush (934731) * on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:07AM (#24806695)
    I think OP meant that there's a difference between "beyond a reasonable doubt and mathematical certainty."

    So while Reiser's guilt is not a mathematical certainty, it's well beyond what a reasonable person could have any serious doubts over considering how the case played out. From the prosecution's perspective, it was a win--they can feel confident they put the guilty person behind bars and saved the taxpayers the expense of a long court battle and appeals process.
  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Insightful)

    by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:15AM (#24806747) Homepage

    First -- why is this marked redundant? This is just some guy's personal thinking on the subject (granted there's a grammatical glitch in the first sentence, but this is Slashdot, not Harper's Review, and who here hasn't posted without proofing?).

    Anyway, regarding murder over a flippant remark: This was the last trigger in an acrimonious divorce where both parties used the kids as pawns in their own games. Murders happen in such circumstances all the time because of the buildup of mutual anger over the years -- that's why he was offered manslaughter the first time around. Nobody thinks he'd commit murder over a flippant remark in normal circumstances, it's the emotional trainwreck built up behind that remark which snapped him.

    Few of us are immune from going overboard. Most of us don't kill but most of us have probably blown up verbally and regretted it later at least one time in our lifetimes. Sometimes it can go farther. One of my girlfriends once choked me to the point of dizziness (out of anger, nothing kinky going on) over some remark so slight I can't even recall what it was. Fortunately, we split up, she got married and has kids. I truly don't think she is a psycho murderess at heart -- she was just royally pissed off -- we were so wrong in every way. It happens. And I'm not innocent either, I tried to smother her with a pillow in my sleep (I have no memory of this, she told me about it the next day and I believe she was telling the truth -- I've always been a sleep walker/talker). Obviously our relationship could not be described as "healthy". Makes for some good stories though.

  • Finally the End (Score:5, Insightful)

    by burris (122191) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:37AM (#24806871)

    Finally, the end to a tragic tale. Nobody won.

    The kids lost their parents.

    Two sets of parents also lost their kids.

    A bunch of people lost one of their best friends.

    The local community, particularly Russian immigrants, lost a potential doctor.

    The Linux community lost a dedicated developer of innovative free software.

    The DA's office lost a lot of time and money over the last two years prosecuting this case.

    Everyone loses.

  • by Toonol (1057698) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:42AM (#24806901)
    This is why I don't want him out on the streets. He has a problem with his ego; he thought he was so much smarter than everybody that he could get away with murder. That's a dangerous person. If he was really contrite, I might judge him less harshly; but I have never gotten the impression that he's the least bit sorry.
  • by viking80 (697716) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:47AM (#24806943) Journal

    I wonder what kind of service Namesys gave to any of its customers and users. Reiser was arrogant and annoying, and that is toward the people with the power to send you to jail forever.

    His attonery also says "Hans killed Nina for making a 'cavalier' remark", but he killed her painlessly.

    Are anyone that reported defects in the Reiser FS still alive?

    Was the level of customer service that you would be killed painlessly as opposed to really bad customer service where customers are tortured before they succumb?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 30, 2008 @01:14AM (#24807115)

    Haven't you figured it out yet? Most people jump at the opportunity to indulge their murderous instincts if they can just find the right excuse. Some people have such poor impulse control that it manifests as racism (it's an excuse they can justify to themselves, even if nobody else agrees), most people have better impulse control, which means they reserve their savagery to convicts (hence prison rape jokes, inordinate hatred for paedophiles, etc).

    MightyMartian is one of those people whose heart leaps when he sees somebody convicted of murder, because that's his excuse. I wonder what Reiser's excuse was?

  • by gregbot9000 (1293772) <mckinleg@csusb.edu> on Saturday August 30, 2008 @01:15AM (#24807121) Journal
    WOW! are you serious? you're not like, trolling, or something? It's hard to believe that anyone could be as fucking smart as you. Yes, lets hope an inmate kills him, because some guy in prison has more insight into justice than the courts that have over 1000 years of law behind them, genius. Lets hope they rape him and beat him too, and give him aids and force him into sexual slavery because everyone know the best way to correct people is ritualistic torture.
    Lets advocate all of this on someone for moral reasons based on their being a "vile piece of garbage" and not on the crime they committed.
    While were at it we could just start killing every one we (as in the guy in charge) deem morally repugnant. Like homos and the poor.
  • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @01:17AM (#24807145)
    There isn't room in society for people that do that.

    There's no point debating that point, since the argument would last forever.

    But the fact that the legal system can and does allow for a killer's release has to be regarded as a recognition that there must be such a place in society.

    None of us really know the circumstances of his crime, and it's not unreasonable to suggest that factors other than unmitigated evil may have been at work. Reiser is an intelligent man, he has already contributed a lot to all of us (regardless of whether you use the actual filesystem he developed) and there is no reason to suppose that he can't continue to do so after his release.

    Thumping a bible and chanting "kill 'em all and let God sort 'em" accomplishes nothing other than exposing simplistic thinking. The rest of society disagrees with you, and this acceptance of degree is reflected (however imperfectly) in the laws we make.
  • by Stellian (673475) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @01:22AM (#24807199)

    I've always thought that if you allocute, we should electrocute...

    The effect would be that no one will ever confess to a murder, to avoid death. This is exactly the opposite of how it works now, for example in Mr. Reiser's case: confessions reduce your penalty, to give an incentive for them.
    While it might seem unfair that a confessed criminal gets a lighter sentence - he's clearly a criminal, he should fry ! - you must factor other issues, like the prolonged agony of the family and the cost for the society to continue prosecution.

  • by lazy_playboy (236084) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @01:33AM (#24807285)

    I have a huge problem with it, and not because of any chance of miscarriage of justice.

    'Civilised society is judged on how it treats it's prisoners and it's disabled.'

    The US 'corrections' system has a long long way to come yet.

  • by Pantero Blanco (792776) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @01:49AM (#24807415)

    People go on and on about how intelligent he was. Clearly not so much. He killed his wife. He did a piss poor job of trying to cover it up (so bad he would have been convicted without the body). He refused a plea bargain that would have given him most of his life back. These are not the actions of a rational intelligent person.

    You think rational, intelligent people can't fly into a rage?

    If you pile enough on someone and they get angry enough, that intelligence doesn't mean a whole lot, because enraged people aren't rational.

    Intelligence also doesn't necessarily keep you from panicking once you realize you've done something that can land you in prison (or the electric chair) for the rest of your life.

  • by AJWM (19027) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @01:52AM (#24807433) Homepage

    He could be lying about it, for example to cover up for someone else, who told him afterwards where the body was hidden. I'm not saying it's likely, but certainly it is possible.

    Which would at very least make him guilty as an accomplice to murder after the fact, and of obstructing justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Oh, and perjury.

    So it's a near mathematical certainty he's guilty of something.

  • by Toandeaf (1014715) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @01:55AM (#24807453)
    The death of a murderer may be less tragic, but murder is not something that can be justified by the victim being a bad person. The justice system is in place for a reason, such retaliation is bad for society.
  • by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Saturday August 30, 2008 @02:47AM (#24807833)

    My rule would also improve the gene pool. If you're dumb enough to confess to a murder...)

    Ah yes, eugenics, obviously noone could be against that.

  • Oh, the humanity! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Qbertino (265505) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @02:57AM (#24807897)

    Chill.

    You may haven't noticed yet, but crime procecution and punishment allways kicks in when there is a loss that can't be recovered. Nobody can bring Nina Reiser back to life. And, no, justice *can't* be served, especially in such aggravated things as murder (allthough fans of death penalty might argue otherwise). That's the big downside. That's why we punish. When damage is done beyond repair, then punishment jumps in to offer at least some sort of reckoning and - in this case - remove the wrongdoer from society.
    True justice would be if one could successfully force Reiser to undo his wrongdoing.

  • by MushMouth (5650) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @03:21AM (#24808037) Homepage

    Reiser is a sociopathic killer. He punched Nina in the face, and strangled her for "cavalierly" telling him that she intended to continue to bring their son to a doctor for his hearing problems. I don;t think their is any objective way to say "she was a bitch to him". I think he would think any reasonable woman would be a "bitch" to him.

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Saturday August 30, 2008 @03:28AM (#24808075) Homepage Journal

    I didn't care if he was guilty or innocent, I just didn't want to see anyone convicted on such flimsy evidence.

    The next person who comes along will be judged to the same standard and they could be innocent.

  • by b4upoo (166390) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @05:06AM (#24808489)

    I hope that Hans will be well supplied with computers, materials and a place where he can continue his work. As far as repaying society continuing with his work is the best he could hope to do as it will benefit us all. And if he is allowed to save the profits from his efforts he will have a means to sustain himself when he leaves prison. That benefits all of us as well.

  • by syousef (465911) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @05:23AM (#24808553) Journal

    You think rational, intelligent people can't fly into a rage?

    Oh of course I think they can. They'd also know when to take a plea bargain that'd land them a lot less jail time when there's a pile of evidence being stacked against them. He may be brilliant with computers, but he's a dunce at crime.

    If you pile enough on someone and they get angry enough, that intelligence doesn't mean a whole lot, because enraged people aren't rational.

    Rage isn't an emmotion you can sustain continuously for months.

    Intelligence also doesn't necessarily keep you from panicking once you realize you've done something that can land you in prison (or the electric chair) for the rest of your life.

    Panick too gives way to reason given enough time.

    He was an idiot for killing his wife. He was an idiot for doing such a poor job at covering it up. He was an idiot for trying to pass his explanations as plausible. He was an idiot for not taking the plea bargain. Now he's an idiot that will rot in prison for something few can sympathise with. What a waste of a technically sound but socially crippled intellect.

  • by something_wicked_thi (918168) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @06:14AM (#24808765)

    I take more of the old bible view of murder

    I think you might want to check your bible. God punished the Israelites because they didn't murder the Canaanites, plus he also accepted one human sacrifice and coerced another guy to commit murder, stopping him just before the knife fell. And that guy sired an entire kingdom as a reward for being willing to murder his son. So, all in all, I should expect Reiser to do pretty well by god.

  • by squiggleslash (241428) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @06:39AM (#24808867) Homepage Journal
    Columbo does make more sense than Matlock, Columbo was always going after arrogant "geniuses" who thought they were too smart to ever get caught.
  • by pitje (1083069) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @07:16AM (#24809079)
    fuck feelings of closure for relatives.
    that's totally not the issue, and has *nothing* to do with the crime committed.
    'Closure' is another word for vengeance, and vengeance is a subjective, egoistical reaction of a hurt mind.
  • by TheSunborn (68004) <tiller&daimi,au,dk> on Saturday August 30, 2008 @07:22AM (#24809117)

    Why should he not be allowed out ever again?
    How would the world be a better place if he was newer allowed to get out?

  • by meist3r (1061628) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @07:40AM (#24809229)
    My question would rather be: Who the fuck would be interested in using such a piece of software? I mean everybody knows that some software has questionable background but I, for one, wouldn't be able to justify using that "Killer App". Seriously, this guy, no matter how smart he is, is one of the dumbest people I ever heard of. If he makes decisions like "I'm gonna kill my wife, mother of my kids, because she is pissing me off" what kind of shit decisions does he make when faced with the not-so-trivial consequences of "real life file system programming". Seriously, I wouldn't let a line of that freaks code near my computer,

    Who knows, maybe when he's done ReiserFS will destroy my data, bury it in the MBR and then try to tell me that it went back to Russia.

    He can do in jail whatever he wants, he shouldn't get special treatment and when he comes out he will be around 70years old. Good luck on the VR Kernel mailing list, grandpa.

    While I do not advocate killing anybody...it does have advantages if you were a hardcore geek. It would be like college, except without all that silly dating and learning. Just sit in your new 'dorm' room and code.

    While I can spot a pinch of cynicism radiating from your post it still must be the dumbest sentence I've read in ages. Even for a shitty joke that's just plain ridiculous. I am a hardcore geek. I spend 90% of my time indoors in the same room. But just the thought someone locking me in here makes me go cuckoo. What you, from your elevated perspective, refuse to see is that there is but a small difference between "college dorm" and "jail" ... in one you get raped in the butt while you are asleep and everybody treats you like a useless pile of shit. In the other one you get to leave after the governor has granted your pardon. You've obviously never even thought about what jail sentences actually mean, how they affect people and what is going on in the world. Am I mistaken if I assume that you don't give a crap about what happened to Reisers wife and how ruined their kids lifes are but you are only interested in him developing some shitty piece of software? Mod me as Troll but if this is trolling I'll gladly do it again and take the blame.

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Saturday August 30, 2008 @08:39AM (#24809605) Homepage Journal

    If all evidence points against you, even if you're innocent, you're likely to confess to get a lower sentence.

    Were he innocent, it would be have difficult for him to produce a body.

    It seems to me that the bargain worked for everyone. Hans gets less time, and society gets to know beyond all reasonable doubt that he's truly guilty. His kids get to know the truth. Nina's family doesn't have to wonder for decades.

  • by budgenator (254554) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @08:54AM (#24809709) Journal

    The last half-dozen or so times this story popped up there was always a few threads dedicated to the certainty of his guilt vs. the reasonable doubt. The conviction was far from being without controversy. But when a body was produced, you had some that held this as proof that the "reasonable doubt" argument was faulty.

    The eventual discovery of the state of reality doesn't validate or invalidate the quality of predictive arguments made preceding the discovery of the state of reality. in other words you don't get points for being right by accident.

  • by Firethorn (177587) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @08:57AM (#24809723) Homepage Journal

    In the American justice system, you have no reason to confess if there is not sufficient evidence of your guilt.

    You have to remember, in the USA you pay for your own defense unless you're fiscally unable to. For example, the local justice system would likely expect me to pay my own legal bills, up to several hundred thousand. Otherwise you get a public defender, which tends to be bottom of the barrel.

    So you'll get a prosecutor's office that'll offer to plea the multiple felonies you're being accused of, with the max sentence of 60+ years to a simple felony with 1 year in prison or just parole or whatever. Most people start thinking in game theory: 'Well, I'm X% likely to get convicted and get even MORE prison sentence vs copping the plea and serving less, on average'. I'm discounting that the overwhelming majority of people in the justice system have been there before.

    When the evidence is shaky, they'll be generous with the plea deals. When the evidence is solid, they won't be.

    Now, being the type of person I am, I'm never going to plea to a felony*, no matter the expense.

    *Would cost me my right to vote, keep&bear arms, etc...

  • by darkpixel2k (623900) <aaron@heyaaron.com> on Saturday August 30, 2008 @10:02AM (#24810283) Homepage

    To the moderators : i was joking.

    It's from Warcraft 3 : "Death to all who oppose the horde" .

    To the parent: "Maybe it wasn't that funny"

  • Re:Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PCM2 (4486) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:33PM (#24811799) Homepage

    That's a very unsettling thought. If we cannot trust even the basic morality of people who have worked hard for their measures of respect in today's global community, who can we trust?

    Please. Obviously you can't "trust" any person from any category, because the categories are totally arbitrary.

    If you read a story in the news that said a 70-year-old woman had murdered her own son and left the son's children orphans, would you start posting on Internet forums about what a terrible world it is when we can't even trust our own grandmothers? I doubt it.

    People aren't rotten as a whole. Some people do some very rotten things. The Hans Reiser case reveals nothing more to us than that. Honestly I don't understand why geeks feel so personally invested in it.

    Hans Reiser is, unfortunately, a murderer. Fortunately, Hans Reiser is not you. For most of you, he's not even a distant relative. His case has no bearing on your life. None. Feel thankful that he will receive justice for the sake of the victim's family, and move on.

  • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @01:00PM (#24812047)
    That is an amazingly homophobic comment. Its offensive on so many other levels too.

    Cheers +1. Yep, not only on that level. What if you love a woman who isn't able to have children? If you want to stay monogamous and not pay a surrogate, should you get a divorce just because she can't get pregnant?!? GP should get a life.

    -b.

  • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Saturday August 30, 2008 @08:58PM (#24815295) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, but such a short prison sentence for murder?

    A guaranteed minimum of 15 years is not short. Graduate high school, go away for 15, and come back to a mid-30s version of yourself. While your friends were coming of age and starting careers and making lives, you were rotting in prison. I'm mid-30s now, and I'd hate to wake up one morning as a 50-year-old. Now, I'm not saying that he doesn't deserve a harsh sentence, but honestly, 15 years in PMITA prison isn't a cake walk.

  • by thirty-seven (568076) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @09:43PM (#24815533)

    Criminals have a debt to their victim and only to them. The government should be ashamed to steal from the victim it's right to justice. Accusation should be led by the victim's family, not by the state.

    I hope this is a parody of libertarianism. If not...

    In any common law system, and probably civil code ones too, victims and victims' families can sue for damages for wrongful death in civil court. As for abolishing criminal prosecutions by the state: of course the state has no vested interest in bringing murders and other criminals to justice; of course someone who murders a person who has no family should be safe from prosecution; and of course it makes sense to have a system that strongly encourages a murderer to try to wipe out the entire family of any of his victims.

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