[conspire] Reiser case catchup
rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Nov 7 20:38:10 PST 2007
I've posted a few Hans Reiser-trial summaries elsewhere, but not here.
This is the progress of the case to date:
1997: Han Reiser, age 32, founds Namesys, Inc. to develop the ReiserFS
filesystem, with all other staff in Russia, to which he takes frequent
1999: Hans hires a St. Petersberg, Russia dating service to find a
Russian bride, and meets Nina Sharanova, age 22, a gynecologist and
obstetrician. Nina had likewise been advertising for a husband. They
date for a year.
1999: Nina moves to Oakland and marries Hans while pregnant with their
first child, Rory. Hans continues to go on frequent trips to Russia,
leaving Nina in charge of managing Namesys's finances, and later in
primary change of raising the children.
1999: Son Rory is born.
2001: Daughter Niorlene is born.
2004?: Hans's father Ramon Reiser tells him that he believes Nina is
stealing large amounts of money from Namesys, and cooking the books.
2004: Nina has an extramarital sexual affair with Hans's best friend,
cross-dresser, and BDSM enthusiast Sean Sturgeon, with whom she moves
in. (Sturgeon had attended their wedding, in drag, as the bridesmaid.
He was claimed to be addicted to pain pills and to have the word "rage"
carved into his arm.)
2004: Nina gets US citizenship.
2004-05-??: Nina files for legal separation from Hans.
2004-08-??: Nina files for divorce (still unconcluded two years later, at
the time of her disappearance). Child custody is heavily contested.
Nina testified that Hans had been psychologically traumatizing Rory
(age 5) by making him watch violent movies and play violent video games,
causing him nightmares, and was away so often on business as to be an
ineffective parent. Hans countercharges that Nina's boyfriend (and
Hans's former best friend) Sean Sturgeon is a danger to the children.
Somewhere around this time, Hans moves to his mother's house in the
Montclair District, Oakland hills. Nina and children settle a few miles
away, in north Oakland.
2004: Sean Sturgeon files lawsuit against Hans charging failure to
repay an $84,000 loan. Hans's cross-complaint charges Sturgeon with
irregularities as Hans's financial agent from 1999 through 2002, that
he had conspired with Nina to defraud Namesys, claimed that Sturgeon had
attempted extortion on Hans and his mother, and claimed that the
majority of the allegedly lent funds had in fact been spent exclusively
by Nina Reiser during the divorce action and during Sturgeon's
cohabitation with her. The suits are later settled.
2004-12-??: Nina gets a temporary restraining order (TRO) requiring him
to remain distant, alleging he had "pushed" her and was "abusive".
2005: Nina Reiser wins full legal custody and shared custody of the
children. Divorce legal proceedings, however, continue, and Hans is to
have the children with him one weeknight per week and every other
weekend. Hans is ordered to pay child support.
2006-01-04: Nina withdraws her court motion for a permanent restraining
order, and in exchange, Hans, without admitting guilt, agreed to be
bound by a one-year civil restraining order prohibiting him from
"contacting, harassing or disturbing the peace" of Nina Reiser at her
home or place of work and ordering him to stay at least 100 yards away
2006: Nina brings administrative law proceedings of civil contempt
against Hans, alleging he had failed to pay 50% of medical and child-care
Fr 2006-08-25: Hans pleads not guilty to civil contempt, his attorney
saying the contempt claim is not only inappropriate and unfair but
underhanded and deceitful", as Hans was claimed to be following the
agreed-upon payment schedule. Trial is scheduled for We 2006-10-11, but
seems to have subsequently been shelved.
2006: Hans contributes $2,000 to Alameda County Supervisor Gail
Steele's election campaign as part of his new-found cause to reform what
he sees as a flawed family court system, and sends her e-mail saying
this cause may end up being his true life's work.
Fr 2006-09-01: Nina is offered a full-time job with the San Francisco
Public Health Department to serve as a liaison with Russian immigrants.
Nina is also preparing to take an examination to qualify to practice
medicine in California.
Fr 2006-09-01: Hans telephones Supervisor Gail Steele four times
about the court-reform issue.
Su 2006-09-03 (Labor Day weekend): Nina speaks by telephone to best
friend and fellow Russian emigree bride, Ellen Doren.
Su 2006-09-03 (Labor Day weekend), ~1:30 PM: Nina buys ~$100 of
groceries at upscale Berkeley Bowl market, appearing on store
surveillance video footage. She has planned to have dinner with Ellen
Doren, but does not show up.
Su 2006-09-03 (Labor Day weekend), 2:30 PM: Nina drops off the children
(now aged 5 and 6) at Hans and his mother Beverly Palmer's house
in Montclair District, 6979 Exeter Drive, Oakland. Son Rory, now age 7,
later gives conflicting testimony, during different sessions with police
investigators, about the whether there was arguing or not, whether he
was told to remain downstairs with his sister in the basement or not,
whether he saw his mother drive away safely or not, etc.
Mo 2006-09-04, 5:30 PM: Nina fails to show up for dinner and a movie
with boyfriend Antonio Zografos.
Tu 2006-09-05: The children attend day care at Joaquin Miller School.
In the afternoon, Nina does _not_ come to pick them up, as planned; Hans
shows up, instead, and finds the school director to talk about the
school's rules. He then (oddly) leaves without the children, though
he'd arrived intending to pick them up. Later, Ellen Doren visits,
and picks them up.
Tu 2006-09-05: Missing-persons report filed, probably by either Ellen
Doren or Antonio Zografos.
We 2006-09-06?: Neighbours of 6979 Exeter Drive report that they saw
Hans "spraying water off of something in the driveway for half-an-hour".
Police note that they are not seeing Hans's banged-up 1988 Honda CRX Si
hatchback. Hans borrows his mother's 2003 Honda hybrid, telling her
(upon her return from being away for the weekend) that Hans's CRX is
being fixed, and so she rents a car to drive, herself. Hans mentions to
a friend that the battery in his car has died.
We 2006-09-06?: Hans allegedly notices very unsubtle surveillance of
his movements, starting around this time. Police have (indeed) been
We 2006-09-06?: Around this time, Oakland PD subject Hans and his
mother to three days of questioning. Hans claims (later) that he
cooperates with the police until exactly the point where he figures out
that this was not a missing-persons investigation but rather a murder
one, and that he is their prime suspect.
Fr 2006-09-08: At Borders Books in Berkeley, Hans purchases two books
on police murder investigations, _Homicide: A Year on the Killing
Streets_, by David Simon, and _Masterpieces of Murder_, by Jonathan
Sa 2006-09-09: Oakland PD pick up Nina's 2001 Honda Odyssey minivan from
on-street parking on Fernwood Drive in the Thornhill neighbourhood just
east of the CA-13 Warren Freeway. Her groceries are spilled in the the
back seat, her purse is in the car, and her cellular telephone is in the
purse with its battery detached. This location is about two miles
downhill from 6979 Exeter Drive.
Su 2006-09-10?: Child Protective Services take the children from Hans
and his mother, and place them in foster care.
Tu 2006-09-12: Hans, while driving his Honda CRX, is given a traffic
ticket in Redwood City. The Redwood City PD officer later recounts that
the car still had its passenger-side front seat, and reports that Hans
We 2006-09-13: Police search 6979 Exeter Drive, including use of a
cadaver dog. No body or murder weapon are found.
Th 2006-09-14: Police are continuing to conduct surveillance of Hans,
but (later) say they keep losing sight of him, and believe him to be
conducting counter-surveillance tactics. Hans's father Ramon and his
attorney later explain that the surveilance had been very unsubtle, but
that Ramon had warned Hans that he couldn't assume who was following
him, and that it might be Russian criminal elements and/or ex-KGB
intending to kill or hurt him.
Mo 2006-09-18: Alameda County Family Court holds hearings about custody
of the children. Oakland PD give secret testimony opposing Hans getting
custody. The judge rules that they should remain in foster care.
Oakland PD trails Hans from the courtroom, using both cars and an
airplane. A later police affadvit says Hans and a male friend driving
him "appeared to be conducting counter-surveillance" by driving at
varying speeds, turning down small residential streets and making abrupt
stops. Hans has dinner with the friend in Albany, is dropped off at San
Pablo and Ashby, Berkeley, walks several blocks "furtively" to Acton
near Carlson, gets into a Honda CRX (later determined to be his), drove
to 2425 Monterey Road, Oakland Hills, and walks the ~3 miles home to
6979 Exeter Drive.
Tu 2006-09-19: Police are able to (finally) search the CRX.
We 2006-09-27: Family Court judge makes the foster care ongoing.
Th 2006-09-28: Oakland PD uses a search warrant to compel a DNA sample
from Han Reiser.
Mo 2006-10-09, evening: Oakland PD and FBI criminologists search 6979
Exeter Drive a second time, and remove (what looks to reporters like) a
door and a piece of carpet. No body or murder weapon are found.
Tu 2006-10-10, 11 AM: Oakland PD arrest Han Reiser on suspicion of
murder. He has with him his passport and $9,000 in cash. Reiser
attorney William DuBois complains that police are not allowing him to
see his client.
We 2006-10-11: Oakland PD announce that Forensics found two drops of
blood on a pillar at 6979 Exeter Drive. Inside the CRX, they found one
drop of blood on a stuffsack. They also found the two books from
Borders, a roll of paper towels, masking tape, and a roll of large,
black trash bags, some of which had been used. The blood traces are
compatible with Nina's blood. The CRX is missing its front passenger
seat. Police say that the floorboard underneath the front seat area's
carpeting had been "saturated with water".
(Hans's attorney much later claimed Hans had removed the passenger seat
because he was in financial straits and obliged to live in the vehicle.)
Th 2006-10-12: Judge Trina Thompson Stanley formally arraigns (accuses)
Hans of one count of (I infer) second-degree murder, based on Oakland PD
Officer Ryan Gill's probable-cause affadavit. Hans delays entering a
plea until a subsequent court appearance. He's remanded to Santa Rita
Jail in Pleasanton.
Sa 2006-12-02: Volunteers search the Oakland hills looking for Nina's
body. Several more such searches are conducted, in the months that
Mo 2006-12-11: Judge Julie Conger starts hearings to determine whether
there is sufficient cause to bring a murder charge to trial, in light of
the absence of a body or murder weapon, or whether the charge should be
dismissed. Police produce the blood-drop forensic evidence, a 40-piece
socket wrench set and receipt from Kragen Auto Parts, and four seat bolts
that might have come from the CRX. Rory testified that Oakland PD
claims -- dating from police interrogation of him in October that he'd
heard his parents arguing while he was downstairs, and that he'd never
heard his mother walk out the door -- were completely untrue.
Oakland PD forensics expert Shannon Cavness testifies that one of the
pllar blood drops tested as that of a male, and one as that of a female.
The female blood drop and the stuffsack drop both contain DNA that
matched to known samples of Nina Reiser's blood's DNA to a degree that
leaves only a one in 45x10^12 chance of it not being from Nina.
However, defence attorney William DuBois gets Cavness to admit that
police have no idea how _old_ the blood drops are.
We 2006-12-21: Hans announces that he's intending to sell Namesys, Inc.,
to help fund his legal defence.
Th 2006-12-22: Alameda County Juvenile Court permits Nina's mother Irina
Sharanova to take the two children to Russia temporarily for the
holidays, on condition that they be returned to their foster home on Su
2007-01-14, prior to further hearings in Judge Conger's court to clear
up Rory's conflicting prior testimony, scheduled for We 2007-01-17.
Once Sharanova has the children in Russia, however, she surreptitiously
starts Russian-court proceedings in St. Petersberg to get permanent
Tu 2007-01-02: Judge Conger's hearings, on the quality of the
circumstantial evidence, continue.
We 2007-01-17: Rory fails to appear before Judge Conger for closed-door
(per prosecutor request) testimony, as scheduled. Alameda County
prosecutor Greg Dolge reveals that the children have been kept in Russia
against Judge Conger's orders (per a message from Irina Sharanova), and
may _never be returned_, as Sharanova has them seeing a therapist who
recommends keeping them there. Dolge also revealed that Nina had
previously gotten Niorlene and Rory both Russian citizenship, the latter
against express orders of the divorce court. Judge Conger deferred her
final decision about the trial to a final hearing date, Fr 2007-02-23.
Th 2007-01-18: Judge Conger drops the court order for Rory's
appearance (given that Sharanova has evaded it).
Th 2007-02-22: Court-scheduling conflicts cause a delay to Fr
Fr 2007-03-09: Judge Conger rules she'll allow the trial to proceed:
She comments that she found Oakland PD's theory utterly unconvincing on
account of its placements and timings of people not matching what had
been established in court. She notes, in particular, that Rory's
more-recent testimony of record completely contradicts the police case
that was based in part on his early testimony. However, she observed
that, even if Hans Reiser isn't responsible his wife's murder, his
"strongly suspicious activities" and "the totality of the circumstances"
suggest he may know who killed her.
Fr 2007-03-23: Hans pleads not guilty to murder. Alameda Superior
Court Judge C. Don Clay denies bail, and remands Hans back to jail.
Initial court date (jury selection) is set for Mo 2007-05-07, at Rene C.
Davidson Courthouse, 1225 Fallon Street near 12th / Oak Streets, Oakland
(lower edge of Lake Merritt), with actual trial estimated to start two
weeks later. Hans asserted (declined to waive) his right to a speedy
trial, which per California law means trial within 60 days. He also
didn't contest the no-bail decree, to avoid further delays. (Note:
Oakland Superior Court normally doesn't permit bail for second-degree
murder, offence #187.) Deputy District Attorney Paul Hora was assigned
Mo 2007-04-23: Nina ex-boyfriend Sean Sturgeon confesses, to
unspecified law enforcement officials, prior commission of eight
unrelated murders (and possibly nine, if that victim didn't survive).
He had been alleged to have a rather violent lifestyle and to be heavily
involved in sadomasochism. According to Ramon Reiser, Sturgeon says he
committed his murders as "retaliation" for abuse of him during his
childhood. Sturgeon denies committing any crimes against Nina Reiser,
however. Sturgeon is not arrested or charged.
Judge Clay orders (via sealed order) both attorney teams in the Hans
Reiser case to say nothing more in public about Sturgeon and his
confessions. A later pretrial ruling by the trial judge summarily bans
any mention of Sturgeon's confession at Hans's trial.
Mo 2007-05-07: Hans appears briefly at a pretrial hearing before
Judge Clay (who handles the criminal-trials calendar for Rene C.
Davidson Courthouse and serves as "Executive Judge"), to request delay
to Tu 2007-05-29, because DuBois is busy on another case.
Tu 2007-05-29: Reschedule to Mo 2007-06-11.
Tu 2007-06-11: Judge Larry Goodman is assigned to the trial.
Goodman expects pre-trial motions through part of July, followed by
his own regular three-week vacation in August. Hans accordingly agrees
to delay jury selection until Tu 2007-08-28. Goodman opts for an
elaborate "big spin" jury selection procedure that will pick from three
groups of 100 potential jurors each, to compensate for bias from news
coverage, adding about a month's extra delay. Estimated opening day
will then be late Sept. / early Oct. The hearing reveals that jail
authorities have refused, for reasons never specified, to forward most
of Hans Reiser's letters to his children.
Th 2007-10-25: Jury selection finishes: 12 jurors (5 women, 7 men)
plus 4 alternates.
Th 2007-10-25: Opening statements rescheduled from Mo 2007-10-29 to
Mo 2007-11-05. DuBois claims to reporters that this is to prevent bias
from an ABC "20/20" story to be broadcast Fr 2007-11-02 (which makes no
sense). Hora contradicts DuBois, saying it's mostly to give attorneys
time to assess 400 pages of child-custody casefile Family Court released
only on Tu 2007-10-23 (after much foot-dragging), including around 70
letters between Hans and his children with comments on the custody case.
Mo 2007-11-05: Opening statements are delayed by a day. Judge Goodman,
attorneys, and Hans confer. It's speculated that, among other things,
Hans intends to insist on testifying, and is so arguing with DuBois.
Tu 2007-11-06: First of Hora's three days of opening statements. Says
Nina would never have abandoned her children, ergo must be dead. Says
circumstantial evidence will prove Hans killed her out of rage over the
We 2007-11-07: Hora continues opening statements, mentions that Rory
Reiser will indeed testify, says that Hans _might_ have killed Nina by
choking her (having a black belt in judo), claims Hans had coached some
of Rory's latter (problematic-to-police) testimony, and claims Rory's
forthcoming testimony will reveal his having heard some strange noises
the night of Nina's disappearance and observed odd behaviour from his
father, including carrying something large to the basement.
We 2007-11-07: YOU ARE HERE. Hora will finish his opening statement
tomorrow morning, then DuBois takes over. Trial is expected to take
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