[conspire] Reiser case: two more prosecution witnesses

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Dec 6 22:34:15 PST 2007

We 2007-12-05  Prosecution's case continued with a videotape of Rory's
sixth birthday party, showing both children playing with Nina.  Present
in court was the videographer and next witness, Anthony Zografos, Nina's 
boyfriend at the time of her disappearance.  Speaking with a heavy Greek
accent, he joined the parade of prosecution witnesses opining that Nina
would not leave her children -- and described her as caring, devoted, and

Asked by prosecutor Paul Hora if the children ever voiced criticism of
Nina, he described both children (but mostly elder child Rory)
occasionally berating their mother as a thief and liar, on account of
their belief that she'd embezzled money from Hans's firm Namesys, Inc.
He reported Nina "saddened" by these incidents.

Zografos that Nina had a job offer at the time of her disappearance, and 
was studying at the Berkeley Kaplan Center for her medical licensing
exam as a gynecologist.  

He said the reason Nina looked at Craigslist personals ads was for
entertainment:  "I actually discussed with the officer that I believe
this was [out of] boredom."  After her disappearance he turned over to
police printouts of the ads saved on her computer, and told them that
he'd noticed $2,000 cash in her house.  (Defence has attempted to
suggest that Nina might have met foul play from dates found though

Zografos sent Hans e-mail three days after Nina's disappearance, saying
he didn't think Nina would leave on her own, and that she'd seemed in
good spirits when he last saw her.  He says Hans never replied, nor to a
separate e-mail proposing a date for his own children and the Reisers' 
to play.

Closing the day, Hora entered into evidence a half-hour of voicemail
messages Nina hadn't retrieved from her cellular number.  Callers
included Zografos, Zografos's children (with his encouragement),
ex-boyfriend Sean Sturgeon (who had been "maid of honour" in drag at the
Reiser wedding), best friend and fellow Russian-import bride Ellen
Doren, divorce attorney Shelley Gordon, and mother Irina Sharanova.
There were no messages from Hans.

Zografos's message:  "I'm afraid something is wrong, and I hope it's not
bad.  But I'm worried about you.  Please give me a call."  Another
of his messages featured the comment "Everything can be fixed", which
defence counsel picked up on, later.

Sturgeon 1st call:  "Please give me a call.  Where are you at?  We're all

Sturgeon 2nd call:  "All I need to say is if you actually get this and
you are... need to get away from anything for a while... when you can,
you can call me and I won't say anything about it to anybody.  I love

On cross-examination by William DuBois, Zografos was asked if the odd
wording of his messages reflected an assumption that she might have
fled or "taken a break":

   DuBois:   "I'm asking you whether your voice messages to Nina reflect
             the fact that...Nina may have taken off on her own, to take 
             a break?"
   Zografos: "I was hoping she was alive and perhaps she had left."

   DuBois:   "What did you mean, 'Everything can be fixed?'"
   Zografos: "'Everything can be fixed' is a generic statement that 
             everything can be fixed.  It didn't have a specific meaning.  
             I meant, if Nina is able to listen to her voice mails, if
             she was afraid something bad had happened to the kids -- 
             nothing is broken, everything can be fixed,  These are 
             messages of a desperate man.  
   DuBois:   "You were basically lying to her, then?"
   Zografos: "I was lying to her phone,"
   DuBois:   "It's not a lie if you lie to a voicemail?"
   Hora:     "Objection.  Argumentative."
   Goodman:  "Sustained."
   DuBois:   "Were you being insincere when you said it was OK to take
             time off?"
   Hora:     "Asked and answered."
   Goodman:  "Sustained."
DuBois also questioned Zografos over the fact that multiple boyfriends
simultaneously had keys to her house, proved by his witnessing Sturgeon
returning his:

   DuBois:   "You were actually present at the changing of the key
             ceremony?  When you got a key, Sean Sturgeon had a key?"
   Zografos: "He had a key to the house,"

DuBois also quizzed Zografos on Nina's trolling through Craigslist

   DuBois:   "You and Nina had a relationship of absolute trust, you
             would say?"
   Zografos: "I would say that,"
   DuBois:   "You trusted Nina, right?"
   Zografos: "I did."
   DuBois:   "You think she was looking for other men while she was 
              dating you?
   Zografos: "I know she wasn't."
   DuBois:   "You say that with some authority."
   Zografos: "I knew Nina well."

DuBois also asked Zografos about Nina's reasons for frequenting the
extremely upscale Berkeley Bowl market, rather than closer but less
premium-grade markets closer to her Temescal District house.  Zografos
would say only "Because I believe she liked the Berkeley Bowl better."

At the same time, Zografos also conceded that Nina was under financial
pressure, and badly needed to get a job to stay out of trouble.

DuBois also asked Zografos if he remembered telling Oakland police
officer Shan Johnson, at the time of the disappearance, that
ex-boyfriend Sean Sturgeon was a "sex worker".  Hora objected to the
question (probably on hearsay grounds), and DuBois was obliged to change

  DuBois:   "Did you tell Shan Johnson that Nina told you that she had
            become accustomed to Sean's money?"
  Zografos: "I don't recall."

In reference to the period when Zografos began dating Nina, and observed
Sturgeon return his house key:

  DuBois:   "But was she still seeing Sean on the side?" 
  Zografos: "I don't believe so."
  DuBois:   "Did you tell Officer Shan Johnson of the Oakland Police
            Department that Nina borrowed money from Sean Sturgeon in 
            May or June of 2006?"
  Zografos: "I believe she did.  I believe that's what she told me."
  DuBois:   "Even though she was no longer seeing him?"
  Zografos: "Yes."
  DuBois:   "Even though you speculated that she was seeing him, is that
  Zografos: "No."

The day's other witness was Oakland pediatrician Dorit Bar-Din, who
looked after the Reiser children, but ceased doing so, writing Nina a
letter saying she could no longer be the children's doctor, after Hans 
threatened to sue her if she examined the children outside his presence.
Bar-Din testified to Nina's caring attitude toward the children.  The
doctor also said she'd examined the children for signs of sexual abuse
following concerns about Nina's boyfriend Sean Sturgeon, and found none.

On cross-examination, Bar-Din was obliged to admit that her medical exam
would not have detected any evidence of inappropriate touching, only

Testimony will resume on Mo 2007-12-10.

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