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The Courts News

Hans Reiser Gets Sentence of 15-To-Life 553

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 thatskinnyguy ( 1129515 ) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:25AM (#24806371)
    Had you at least seen War Games, you would know that your Defcons are backwards. Defcon 5 = Peace Defcon 1 = Nuclear War
  • He was offered only 3 years if he plead manslaughter. He refused. 15 to life (which means that he has a life sentence and is eligible for parole in 15 years) seems like a pretty good choice. Especially if he does reform. Society earns nothing by keeping him locked away longer if a parole board feels he's fit to leave. 15 years means that he's going to miss out on potentially some of the most interesting parts of what could have been his life. So it's not as if he will not learn anything.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:34AM (#24806435)

    that URL should be []

    and oh, it is sad:

        While the kids are sleeping, Hans is digging a grave for Nina. He comes home "and I was exhausted ... [the kids] would mercilessly jump on my belly and demand that I play with them."

  • by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:59AM (#24806617) Homepage Journal
    Being incarcerated in America, especially California, is usually a death sentence no matter what you were convicted of.
  • by quisxt ( 462797 ) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @01:13AM (#24806731)
    Your chances of being paroled if you are a "to life" convicted murderer in California are extremely low. Reiser will probably stay in prison for the rest of his life.

    From a story in the LA Times []:

    "The parole board grants release dates to a relative few. Schwarzenegger vetoes most releases approved by the parole board, as did his predecessor, Gov. Gray Davis. Since taking office, Schwarzenegger has allowed 191 lifers to leave prison -- about 1% of more than 16,000 who had parole hearings."
  • Nina was buried here (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 30, 2008 @02:12AM (#24807097) []

    A location which I visited with sadness.


  • by BrokenHalo ( 565198 ) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @02:28AM (#24807251)
    Something that has been overlooked in the majority of posts here is that the legal consequence of a crime is to be sent to jail AS punishment, rather than being sent there FOR punishment.

    Anal rape and beatings are not part of the sentence handed down by the judge, but deprivation of liberty is.

    Bearing this in mind, it isn't inconsistent to design these institutions with rehabilitation in mind.
  • by owlstead ( 636356 ) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @07:07AM (#24808737)

    Absolutely, but the GP was not defending him, the white panter was just saying that there were mitigating factors. There is a strong difference between the two. Simply said, context does matter, even in the courts. Fortunately, otherwise you would have to execute the executioner of any sentence :)

  • by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @10:11AM (#24809837) Journal

    Actually it would be "Work for Hire" and the state would own the copyrights. If he were incarcerated in Michigan, he'd get $0.28/hr and after they take out for child support that would leave him with $7.00 a month, that doesn't buy much soap or deodorant. If he gets sick he is quickly introduced to the fact that the "free medical" is realy medicade and a $3.00 co-pay is almost half a months wages! oh yeah the strongest pain med he's going to get is OTC for us, imagine going through abdominal surgery and recovering on motrin.

  • Sentences (Score:2, Informative)

    by bobbuck ( 675253 ) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @11:14AM (#24810385)
    I don't know about the rest of the country but where I live the difference in sentences between a plea and a jury conviction is enough to make you plea guilty for a crime you didn't commit. For example, you get charged with manufacturing drugs. You make a plea deal with the prosecutor and you get a year. You get convicted in a jury trial and the judge hands you a 20 year sentence. The other problem is that even if you're innocent the prosecutor can make a deal with a convict where he gets years off his prison term to testify against you. The smart guy takes the deal.
  • by Jeremy Erwin ( 2054 ) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @12:23PM (#24811137) Journal

    Citation Granted []

    Under a heavy police guard, Reiser, handcuffed to his attorney, William Du Bois, led officers through heavy brush and poison oak to where his wife's body was buried off the 8200 block of Skyline Boulevard.

    "Without any hesitation, he went exactly to where the grave site was," said Oakland homicide Lt. Ersie Joyner. Police said there were no signs that the grave had been dug before Nina Reiser was killed.

    Good enough for you?

  • Re:Sentences (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lost Engineer ( 459920 ) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @03:12PM (#24812627)

    Agreed. The problem rarely comes up in murder cases where the sentences tend to be life regardless of how you plea, but the drug war is another story, especially when the "evidence" is provided by criminals.

  • by afxgrin ( 208686 ) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @06:11PM (#24813783)

    At this point there is no way you can defend him.

    I tried to argue that there was a great deal of uncertainty considering what was available from news articles, but since he pointed investigators to the body, there's no doubt now....

    I could buy the argument that his behaviour during the initial trial was just the result of him being a total fucking geek. But obviously I was wrong...

  • by stephanruby ( 542433 ) on Saturday August 30, 2008 @11:11PM (#24815685)

    It is extremely difficult, despite what fiction might tell you, to muster enough false evidence to convince a jury or judge to convict a person when that person is innocent.

    It is extremely difficult to convict someone who is guilty, yes, but it is not difficult to convict someone who is innocent. All you need is a police man claiming that a suspect confessed, but that he didn't read the suspect his rights. One study showed that even when the only piece of evidence against a suspect was an inadmissible "confession" and nothing else, juries usually disobeyed their given instructions and rendered unanimous guilty verdicts.

  • by lpq ( 583377 ) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @12:29AM (#24816105) Homepage Journal

    You are incredibly deluded.

    It's incredibly easy for police to create circumstances to prosecute you and imprison you.

    The cops can and do lie -- OFTEN to get convictions, but you, under the principles of "free speech" are not allowed to lie to them. Two very good videos:
    Don't Talk to Cops, Part 1 [] and
    Don't Talk to Cops, Part 2 [].

    The cop admits it -- he can follow anyone driving around and find something to arrest them for.

    It's the same throughout the U.S. Our laws are crafted to make *everyone* a law breaker -- this enables the police to selectively enforce laws against anyone they don't like for any reason. Of course, they don't go hog wild -- prosecutions take time & paperwork. But the police get to selectively choose who to arrest -- where to focus efforts, and even whether or not to prosecute. With "consensual crimes" (activity you engage in by yourself or with consenting adults), they have turned to using "asset seizure" as a tool that they rely on to fund their departments and budgets. As an example -- the DEA has almost exclusively been using cash & property seizures against medical marijuana co-ops -- and NOT prosecuting the people. If they prosecute the people, they would potentially have to make a case in front of a non-sympathetic California jury, but if they just take the cash, product and easily disposed of assets, they can get large amounts of cash added to their budgets -- and little that the victims can do to get the money back (since, unlike laws regarding people, the current courts have ruled that property doesn't have to be assumed innocent until proven guilty -- it only takes a lesser "preponderance of evidence", instead of the "beyond a reasonable doubt". Any Cannabis defenders that become too public -- they'll try to take them down -- but they really only want to go for the ones that are causing the most problems (politically). A recent case where the feds prosecuted a grower had him only get a few months (he was growing as a medical provider) -- so then they called in the IRS to have them examine his operation -- and they are trying to go for tax evasion now. Of course if you pay income tax on drug proceeds, the IRS will turn you into the feds. Not sure why that doesn't count as self-incrimination.

    The police and judicial system in the US is very corrupt -- with 5% of the population and 66% of the illegal drug consumption in the world --- and the US leading in pressuring other countries to crack down, the absurdity is hard to miss.

    The claims are we are having problems affording prisons because of all the prisoners -- but the fact is, if we turned out all the non-violent Cannabis offenders, we'd cut the prison population by 60-66% (its about 450-500 thousand out of 750,000 in the federal system that are in for drug-related offenses -- often with mandatory sentencing being used to ensure the prisons stay full. Treatment programs are another big and growing business (as well as drug testing) -- with the biggest increase coming from those needing "treatment" programs for marijuana -- not because of a problem with marijuana -- but because they can trade prison time for taking a rehab program instead on 1st offenses. So the stats for those in rehab for "marijuana addiction" are used to fuel the myth that it's a "growing problem". The growing problem is that our screwed up legal system has turned everyone into criminals -- with selective enforcement used as a tool to strike at political undesirables.

    Unfortunately, prohibition was proven not to work and was theoretically repealed, but the joke was they just moved onto finding a new substance to prohibit. Marijuana criminalization was lead by ex-anti-alcohol FBI enforcers (Anslinger, primarily) who were out of a job after prohibition was repealed -- but they needed to create a crime to stay on the "public dole" they did. Since Cannabis was made illegal, consumption has

  • by hardwarefreak ( 899370 ) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @12:39AM (#24816137)

    There is no "beyond all reasonable doubt" in mathematics!

    1 + 1 = 2

    I see no doubt here, thus, you're wrong.

    What you should have been arguing is "probability", not "mathematics". Mathematics, by definition, is certainty, because is deals with quantities. Probability, by definition, is uncertainty, because it deals with possibilities. Mathematics is merely a tool used in calculating probability.

  • by LrdDimwit ( 1133419 ) on Sunday August 31, 2008 @01:07AM (#24816325)
    He was offered essentially the same deal he took just now -- confess, show us the body -- and the deal would have been for 3 years. They were willing to go down to voluntary manslaughter. Hans decided no, he thought he could blow smoke up the jury's ass.

    3 years, compared to 15-to-life, is really lenient.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard