[conspire] Reiser case: Rory Reiser testimony's purpose

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Wed Nov 14 14:46:31 PST 2007

I wrote:

> Oddly, throughout, Rory refers to Hans as "Papa", but Nina as "Nina".
> My opinion:  Seems like some very unsubtle coaching by Nina's mother
> Irina Sharanova, here.  I wonder if the jury noticed that telling
> detail?

In case my point was unclear:  Why call only _one_ parent by given name?
My inference is that Rory is calling his mother "Nina" because he picked
up that usage directly from her mother (Irina Sharanova) in Russia during
intensive coaching by Sharanova, who is attempting to sink Hans, over
the past year.  Of course, Rory could have been using both "Nina" and
"Papa" all along, but the oddity stood out (along with a lot of other
little details that seem to show him having been worked on).

> Hora admits that Rory's testimony is confused and conflicting:  Asked
> about his prior testimony that his mother had hugged him at the 6979
> Exeter Drive home and then left, perfectly healthy, Rory now says that
> he no longer remembers.  He no longer recalls going to the Berkeley
> Bowl grocery with Nina, and recalls the last time he saw his mother as
> Fr 2007-09-01, rather than Su 2007-09-03.  (All he now says he
> remembers about the latter day is eating macaroni and cheese, and
> playing video games.)

Coverage by _Wired_ (http://blog.wired.com/27bstroke6/) pointed out
a vital point that, in my haste, I'd missed:  The whole purpose of
prosecutor Paul Hora flying in 8-year-old Rory Reiser from Russia was to
destroy Rory's testimony that he gave a year ago, right after Nina's
disappearance -- which testimony had very badly damaged prosecution's

Back in December 2006, Rory had testified to police interrogators that 
their accusatory account of Su 2006-09-03 was all wrong, that he had
_not_ heard his parents angrily arguing upstairs as their account
asserted, and that, far from Nina being murdered on-premises, she'd hugged
him at the door and then driven away, perfectly healthy.  It was largely
based on the problem of Rory's denying of the police's story that Judge
Julie Conger held a series of hearing to determine whether the charge
against Hans Reiser could lawfully go forward at all.  In the middle of
those hearings, and before Rory could testify again to set the matter to
rest, Nina's mother took both children away to St.  Petersburg, Russia
and kept them there all this past year, preventing Rory from testifying.

Judge Conger had allowed Hans Reiser's trial to proceed, in the absence
of Rory's expected followup testimony, despite grave misgivings:  She
pronounced herself utterly unconvinced by Oakland PD's murder theory,
but felt that Hans's "strongly suspicious activities" and "the totality
of the circumstances" suggested that Hans at least knew more about
Nina's disappearance than he was saying.

_Wired_ points out that Hora presented jurors with numerous bits of
taped conversation between Rory and Oakland PD and various (I assume
Russian) mental health workers over the past year:  The various stories
he gave in each were mutually contradictory.  After each, Hora asked
Rory to confirm that he'd told the truth in that snippet, and he always
said "Yes".  _Wired's_ point is that this is a deliberate strategem to 
discredit Rory's testimony that he gave immediately after Nina's
disappearance, and before he was worked-over in Russia for a year:  Hora
hopes jurors will decide to disregard _all_ of Rory's testimony.

Yesterday's entire spectacle of Rory's "recent" drawing (which, to
correct my earlier summary, _was_ presented in court and passed around
the jury box) should be seen in that context:  The whole thing about how
he _might_ have drawn his father and the bag he's carrying in the
drawing "could be" his mother curled up in fetal position, followed by
his curling up on the courtroom floor, and then saying no, this isn't
anything he specifically claims he saw that day, but it might be his
father "going downstairs with somebody", is all designed to make Rory
make _himself_ appear unreliable.

I'd fretted over the staircase scenario:  I gather from news reports
that the ground level is upstairs, that downstairs is _not_ the way out,
and that basement level houses (only?) the children's rooms and a family
room:  Why would Hans as a murderer on that Sunday afternoon shlep the
body downstairs, away from the house exit and near where the children
are?  To deal with the body, and keep it away from the children, he
would logically go in any direction _but_ that.  However, I missed the
larger point:  The allegation is _supposed_ to be non-credible.  It's
part of a campaign to make the witness, Rory, look unbelievable.

This is the first time I've heard of a prosecutor calling his own lead
witness with the specific aim of demolishing that witness's own
pretrial testimony, but I'm sure stranger things have happened.

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