[conspire] Reiser case: this week's testimony, closing out 2007

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Dec 19 02:41:38 PST 2007

Mo 2007-12-17:  Today's first prosecution witness was Peter Koltai,
M.D., children's ear, nose, and throat doctor at Lucille Packard
Children's Hospital at Stanford U. Medical Center (and also professor
and chief of pediatric otolaryngology, there), talking about seeing Rory
for ear infections on Tu 2005-05-24.  Nina was seeking a second opinion
on a prior doctor's recommendation to remove Rory's adenoids and put
"tubes" in his ears, improving his ability to breathe through his nose.
He confirmed the original recommendation, the original doctor having
originally declined to carry out the surgery because Hans had threatened
him with a malpractice suit, and Koltai agreed to do the surgery

Before the operation, Koltai said he received a call from Hans saying he
was opposed to the surgery, considered it unneeded, and accused Nina of
engaging in Munchausen by proxy (seeking unnecessary medical procedures
for others).  Koltai replied that Hans's hypothesis was denied by Rory's
40-decibel hearing loss and other symptoms.  Hans then threatened
lawsuit if the operation proceeded.

Koltai then delayed the operation long enough for the hospital to
clarify the legal situation and verify Nina's authority to give consent,
and then carried it out (following a second call in which Hans repeated
his threat, and refused to discuss the boy's problems).  Questioned
about why he proceeded, Koltai said it was clearly necessary for the
boy's benefit, and also that Koltai simply didn't like being bullied.  

The operation, which was successful, removed a "huge adenoid pod"
constituting something like a "huge Swedish meatball" up Rory's nose.

On cross-examination, DuBois questioned Koltai about Hans's manner
during his calls:  Koltai described Hans as having a "very cold affect,
this strange, monotonal voice on the phone.  It was bizarre -- and keep
in mind, I've been in this business for a very long time -- I've never
had a parent call and say, 'Don't operate on my child or I'll sue you,'
especially with a kid that clearly needed help. It was so out of the
ordinary.  It was hard not to remember."

Next prosecution witness was Hans's judo instructor Willy Cahill, of
Cahill's Judo Academy, San Bruno, where Hans got his black belt in 2004.
Asked if judo teaches choking and throwing, Cahill said yes.  He said
he'd never met Nina but did meet the kids, and remembered that Hans had
attended class at least once after Nina's disappearance.  

On cross-examination, Cahill confirmed that judo is taught only to
people of character who show an ability to work with people, that Hans
at various times had been either aggressive or passive, and that Hans
had troubles with his throws.  Hans showed no temper problems at all,
Cahill said.

Next up was Artem Mishin, fellow student with Hans at Cahill Judo
Academy, and third-degree black belt.  Mishin had checked his BMW
carefully as if looking for tracking devices, driven Hans from a
child-custody hearing on Mo 2006-09-18, and apparently evaded
surveillance (that turned out to be Oakland PD).  Mishin said he had no
idea at the time it there was surveillance as he drove somewhat
irregularly to Solano Avenue, Berkeley, where the two had dinner, and
then dropped off Hans at San Pablo and Ashby, from which Hans walked
indirectly to his CRX.

Mishin explained the "looking for tracking devices" check as merely
looking for scratches, given the bad neighbourhood, and said he'd slowed
down on Solano Avenue not to evade followers but rather because he'd
been talking to Hans.  His turns en-route to Solano Avenue hadn't been
evasion, but rather a change of destination.

Mishin said Hans had mentioned nothing about having car trouble, but had
some explanation of why he didn't want to drive into Oakland that seemed
reasonable at the time but that Mishin couldn't recall.  

He commented that Hans _may_ have said something about the police
following him without a warrant.  He admitted to Hora that he'd greeted
Hans that day by "jokingly" referring to him as "Scott" a reference to
recently-convicted wife and child murderer Scott Peterson.

On cross-examination, Mishin confirmed that his checking of his car was
innocent, and had nothing to hide from the police.  

Next was Goli Fahid, at the time of the disappearance a neighbour on
Exeter Drive.  She thinks, but is not sure, that she saw Hans walking up
Shepherd Canyon Road in the Montclair hills right around Mo 2006-09-18.
As she approached a man in black trousers and a white shirt, she thinks
but is not sure it was Hans.  The man started running up the hill.

Next was Hans's fellow Santa Rita Jail inmate Arthur Gomez, testifying
that when the jail television showed a KTVU-TV teaser clip mentioning
that a body had been found near the top of Claremont Avenue, Hans had
watched with intent interest, and seemed "relieved" when the report
mentioned the body being a black man.  Gomez claimed he got nothing for
reporting the incident to Hora, but reported it because "taking
someone's life" disturbed him.

On cross-examination, DuBois got Gomez to acknowledge a rather sordid
criminal history of abuse of common-law wives and assault with a deadly
weapon, etc.  

Tu 2007-12-18:  The Redwood City policeman who pulled Hans over on We
2006-09-13 for failing to yield while making a U-turn in his CRX, Sgt.
Eric Stasiak, testified:  Hans failed to let a SamTrans bus go first
before making a U-turn on El Camino Real at the corner of Madison
Avenue.  Stasiak was not sure he recognised Hans, in court, from that
day.  He said that, at the time of the ticket, the CRX had both seats,
and was dirty inside.  Hans "appeared a little nervous", but no more
than is common in traffic stops.  

On cross-examination, Stasiak recounted Hans apologising for his
manoeuver, saying "I'm sorry, I miscalculated", and saying there was
nothing unusual in the car, except being full of food wrappers and
clothing.  (And no blood whatsoever.)

DuBois:   "Sort of like it was lived in, almost?"
Stasiak:  "Yes."

DuBois:   "Let's say you saw it covered in blood. Would that make you
          want to investigate it?"
Stasiak:  "Yes."

(Defence asserts that Hans removed the passenger seat merely because he
was living in the CRX at the time, hoping to allow his mother to gain
custody of the kids at the Exeter Drive house.)

Next, Oakland PD CSI Bruce Christensen testified about the recovered
Honda Odyssey minivan found on Fernwood Drive.  He confirmed the
accuracy of photos, showing strewn groceries (spoiled), a purse, a
compact, a comb, a cell 'phone charger, Nina's $2,100 rent cheque, and a
cell 'phone opened and with the battery detached.  Also shown were
photos of the search he helped conduct at the Exeter Drive house,
several days later.

Next, downtown Berkeley Kaplan Learning Center director Chris Weimer
testified to Nina's studies there for her OB/GYN certification exam,
saying she'd advance-paid the centre thousands of dollars for Step 1 of
a three-step exam process, having credit for 15 visits prepaid when she

Last prosecution witness of the day was Alameda County DA's Inspector
Bruce Brock spoke.  Brock had also, prior to taking that job on
2006-09-03, been an Oakland PD officer, and in that capactiy as well had
helped conduct the Reiser investigation.

After the Reiser Honda CRX was found, with its passenger seat missing,
Brock and other inspectors acquired a replica seat from a junkyard, and
described test-fitting it into the CRX, describing for jurors how the
rail and runner system worked.  (I'm not clear on what the point was,
but it appears to have just been a ploy to make the jurors think about
more-sinister reasons for the seat's removal.)

On cross-examination, Brock admitted he "wouldn't be surprised at all"
if Oakland PD technicians had removed parts from the floorboard.

Court has now adjourned until Mo 2008-01-14, totalling out the year with
35 witnesses and 130 exhibits seen and heard over 20 court days.  
Hans Reiser will remain until then at Glenn Dyer Detention Facility,
adjoining the Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland -- having been
imprisoned without bail for 14 months.  Defence's case will likely start
some time in January. 

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