[conspire] Reiser trial: DNA tests partially flubbed, defence motion for mistrial
rick at linuxmafia.com
Mon Feb 4 01:27:00 PST 2008
Tu 2008-01-22: Prosecution's case continued with a return visit from
Oakland PD criminalist Shannon Cavness, talking about items found in
Hans Reiser's decrepit 1988 Honda Civic CRX 2-seater a week after police
followed Hans to it on Mo 2006-09-18 on Monterey Blvd., in Oakland's
Montclair District. She described it as in "dirty condition", listing
clutter including a sleeping bag, absorbent cloths, a siphon pump,
plastic trash bags, a roll of paper towels missing about half its 55
sheets, a credit union receipt, a Target receipt from Mo 2006-09-11,
various food items (both eaten and not), toiletry articles, Stockton and
Manteca street maps, two books on murder investigations, a Manteca
U-Haul printout from Su 2006-09-17 that detailed a projected trip from
there to Oakland, a Manteca 7-Eleven receipt from the same day, a
Fremont Motel 6 receipt for an overnight stay on Su 2006-09-10, a
40-piece socket wrench set and receipt from Kragen's Auto Parts, Hans's
We 2006-09-13 Redwood City traffic citation, a Th 2006-09-14 newspaper
article entitled " and 12 mm bolts consistent with those used for the
missing right-side car seat. She said the floorboard was very wet (1/2
to 1 inch of standing water), at the time police found the car, and
commented that the easiest way to "lyse" (break apart) blood cells and
their DNA is to wash them with water.
(Prosecutor Paul Hora contends that Hans Reiser used the car to dispose
of his estranged wife Nina's corpse. Defence counsel William DuBois
counters that Hans had merely used the car as temporary sleeping
quarters, during his unsuccessful legal battle to recover custody of his
Cavness also mentioned a sleeping back stuffsack found in the car with
a six-inch, very faint bloodstain, and a tiny bloodspot on a pillar just
inside Hans's house, both of whose DNA had been matched to Nina's to a
certainty of 1 in 10^12 (American "trillion"). A much smaller amount of
the blood from the house pillar also matched Hans's blood, with Cavness
estimating a 1 in 208 chance that it was someone else's (on account of
the very small sample). There was also a trace of Hans's blood on the
stuffsack, with a 1 in 10^9 (American "billion") chance of being that of
(Note: This was the first time jurors were actually shown any forensic
evidence whatsoever, and -- really -- the rest of prosecution's case is
We 2008-01-23: Cavness's cross-examination by defence co-counsel
Richard Tamor begins, with Tamor getting her to admit that none of the
bloodstains' dates could be determined; they could be thirty years old.
He then specifically asked about the pillar spots:
Tamor: "You can't tell us whether those mixtures in this case were
deposited at the same time. You can't tell us whether one DNA
sample was deposited days before the other DNA sample, isn't
Cavness: "That's correct."
Tamor: "You can't tell us if DNA sample 1 was deposited even years
before DNA sample 2?"
Cavness: "That's right. I have no way of dating a DNA sample."
Tamor: "And the other thing about DNA isn't this true, is you can't
tell us exactly how it was deposited?"
Cavness: "That's correct."
At this point, Cavness dropped a small bombshell on prosecution's case:
She had failed to take the required (minimum) two separate samples of
blood from the pillar spot, instead swabbing only one large sample. She
thus conceded that it was uncertain whether there were really two
sources of blood. Not swabbing two distinct areas for blood (as many as
five being sometimes recommended) -- as her professional norms require
-- was thus a serious gaffe, because a single blood deposit could have
gotten contaminated by some other, more-innocent source of DNA, such as
Tamor: "You swabbed the entire stain. That's a mistake, isn't it?"
Cavness: "I'll admit that I should have taken at least two samples."
Tamor: "If you had to do it over, you would have swabbed it two
different times, right?"
Cavness: "At least two distinct areas, yes."
Tamor: "And isn't it generally accepted in the forensic community that
what you do is you swab them separately when you see two distinct
bloodstains like that?"
Tamor: "And you didn't do that in this case?"
Cavness: "No, I didn't." [Wording to the effect that she'd hastily
assumed the blood had come from a single source] "which is a
mistake on my part."
Tamor: "When there is a mixture, and when there is blood involved, you
don't know whether two people contributed DNA from blood or
whether one person contributed DNA from blood and another
contributed from saliva?"
Cavness: "I would say that's a problem with the analysis of this
particular pillar sample."
Tamor: [after a recess:] "You can't tell whose blood that is?"
Cavness: "The most reasonable answer is that the DNA is from the blood
versus coming from some other biological material. I really
doubt somebody licked the pillar."
Tamor: "That's just an assumption?"
Cavness: "I cannot be 100 percent certain."
Tamor tried to suggest that something similar could have occurred with
the sleeping bag cover, especially as the date of the bleeding cannot be
determined. He suggested that, in happier times, Nina might have
drooled on it, for example. (Judge Goodman laughed.)
Because of jurors having made arrangements for time off, court adjourned
for the rest of the week.
Mo 2008-01-28: Prosecution called Oakland PD IT Dept. analyst Dennis
Castro to the stand, about results of examining Hans's computer from his
6979 Exeter Drive home. Nothing much was made of this, except that it
showed signs of having had two hard drives in the past, but lacked any
Hora: "Is there a possibility where the computer could run without a
Hora: "Under what circumstances?"
Castro: [Computer could work with "boot-up diskettes", but none were
(I know, I know. Painful, isn't it?)
Officer Michael Weisenberg, who'd worked Special Victims at the time of
Nina's disappearance was next. He'd served a search warrant on Yahoo to
get activity from the hans_thomas_reiser at yahoo.com mail account, which
Yahoo furnished on CD. The only mail from the hundreds Yahoo provided
that Weisenberg wanted to show the jurors was one Hans sent the evening
of Sa 2006-09-16 to Namesys employees, subject "Nina":
As you will probably hear, Nina has disappeared. As her ex-husband,
statistics require the police to investigate me in depth. I cannot
comment on the matter, as my attorney says he will quit the case if I
do so to anyone without his presence. It is my hope that you will all
be insulated from this matter. However, I will be difficult to reach
at times. I am sure you understand.
Prosecutor Hora showed jurors the Manteca 7-Eleven receipt from the
following morning (recovered from the CRX).
Weisenberg also testified to contents found in Hans's fanny pack when he
was detained for a court-ordered DNA sample on Th 2006-09-28: Oakland
and Berkeley library cards, a Barnes and Noble member card, a business
card from California Self Storage in Manteca, a Citibank credit card
with Nina Reiser's name on it, and quite a number of other routine
On cross-examination, Weisenberg admitted to defence attorney DuBois
that the the Nina Reiser credit card had expired a year before -- and
also to admit that son Rory Reiser had told him on Mo 2006-09-25 that
Rory had seen Nina leave the Exeter Drive house, safe and sound. He
also admitted that the maps of Stockton and Manteca found in Hans's car
had nothing circled or marked, and that police had found no evidence of
Hans renting storage units there, and had specifically checked all such
facilities in Redwood City, Union City, Hayward, Manteca, and Stockton.
He also admitted that police had checked all of Nina's credit cards and
other business connections for activity after her disappearance, finding
none, but that they _did_ come up with one oddity: A Chase Bank credit
card account was co-signed by one Herman Layrentiev, on whom police
could find no data. Weisenberg admitted that this was very strange,
that a person who was apparently "invisible" but had a good credit
rating was co-signer on that account.
DuBois: "Did it strike you as unusual that there was this individual
with a bank account with a co-signer" that he can't identify?"
Weisenberg: "Very unusual".
Prosecution next called Officer Omega Crum, member of OPD's Targeted
Enforcement Task Force (i.e., surveillance team), who testified he'd
tagged the CRX with a GPS tracking device after Hans lead them to it
on Mo 2006-09-18, but it never moved, and police towed it to an evidence
lot the next day.
He also said he'd tagged a car Hans rented on Mo 2006-09-18, but found
when they re-visited it on Fr 2006-10-13 that its battery appeared to
have been removed.
What followed after Weisenberg's testimony was yet another bombshell:
Defence counsel DuBois filed a _motion for mistrial_, alleging improper
conduct (a "false statement") by Judge Larry Goodman in front of the
jury on We 2007-12-12, which DuBois said has prejudiced the jury and
improperly excluded evidence from them. To review, this was when DuBois
was cross-examining Nina's best friend and fellow Russian mail-order
bridge Ellen Doren, and asked if she'd pursued son Rory's claims to have
observed Nina leaving the Exeter Drive house unharmed. Doren, who has
consistently been extremely hostile to defence, had said merely "No",
DuBois attempted to follow up, Hora objected, and Goodman angrily and
very loudly intervened. It went like this:
DuBois: "After Nina dropped off the children at Hans' house and drove
away from his house, was there any possibility, any possible
way for him to have known where she was going?"
Hora: [Objection: probably said either irrelevant or lacks foundation]
DuBois: "It's not irrelevant and there's evidence to support that
Goodman: [loudly and angrily] "Mr. DuBois, if you comment on the
evidence that's not before the jury one more time, I'm going
to find you in contempt, and that's the end of it."
DuBois: [attempts to say something]
Goodman: "I DON'T CARE what (the boy) testified to at this point."
[Goodman glares.] "I know what you're doing, and you know
what you're doing, and I don't appreciate it."
DuBois: [attempts to say something]
Goodman: "Mr. Du Bois, I'm warning you for one more time, and it's going
to cost you money. The objection is sustained."
DuBois continued to pursue the matter, since Rory's claim _is_ in
testimony (to both CPS officials and to Judge Julie Conger during the
preliminary hearings) and is absolutely key to defence's attack on the
prosecution's circumstantial theory. And, in response, Judge Goodman
told jurors flatly that "There's no evidence" that Nina drove away from
the house where she was last seen.
DuBois's motion pointed out that California judicial standards require
that judges' comments on evidence require that they be accurate,
temperate, and fair -- that Rory's testimony about his mother
leaving, getting in her van, and driving away _had_, in fact, been
accepted into evidence, and that, by law, jurors, not judges, are
required to be the sole judges of facts at issue. Goodman himself now
will have to rule on the mistrial motion, in which DuBois and Tamor
allow that they'll drop the mistrial request _if_ Goodman instructs the
jury to disregard his remarks of Sept. 12.
Impliedly, if Goodman _denies_ the motion, that would serve as defence
grounds for appeal of any conviction.
Next prosecution witness was Patelco Credit Union internal auditor and
security manager Erin Morasch, whom Hora had engaged to review Nina and
Hans's accounts for any unusual activity. He detailed quite a bit of
account history, none of it very surprising, ending with Nina's account
having about a $4,500 balance. There was nothing notable in Hans's
account, either, except for a significant increase in cash withdrawals,
including one for $5,000 on Sept. 21.
Hora closed off the day's testimony with the solution to the "Herman
Layrentiev" (better Latin-alphabet spelling: Lavrentiev) mystery: He's
Nina Reiser's stepfather (married to Irina Sharanova).
Th 2008-01-24: Paul Hora continues Erin Morasch's direct testimony.
June-Aug. 2006 deposits to Nina's account included a wire-transfer from
Latvia for $8,000, ex-lover Sean Sturgeon giving $2,100 (described as
helping her pay rent), and child support payments of $2,643 and $1,260.
On Hans's accounts, Morasch noted that he'd made regular charges to his
a Patelco VISA card (one of five he had with them), until Aug. 2006,
when charges ceased (that account hitting its limit), and instead he
charged a series of cash withdrawals to his checking account (which
activity Patelco limits to $500 per card per day -- and $1,000 per
member per day at each branch). On Mo 2006-09-11, Hans withdrew $130
(leaving only $0.61), then a week later deposited a cheque for $12,000,
then a separate deposit of $7,447, then next day a $5,000 withdrawal.
Three days further on, Hans did something that struck Morasch as
suspicious: He visited in quick succession San Leandro, Hayward, and
Fremont Patelco branches, withdrawing $1,000 from each -- something that
Morasch said was often typical of a fraud pattern. He also did some
transfers and a series of $500 withdrawals at a Fremont ATM, raising his
withdrawals between Sept. 20-23 to $10,000 total -- then three
withdrawals of $500 each from a U.S. Bank branch ATM in Truckee. The
last withdrawal overdrew his chequing account, which was fixed by an
automatic charge to a VISA card.
On cross-examination, Morasch admitted that the cessation of charges to
Hans's VISA card after August was an obvious and simple consequence of
it being maxed out. DuBois then asked Morasch if he were familiar with
how Hans paid his employees: "No." (The point, which DuBois is sure to
bring out earlier, is that Hans paid Namesys's Russian staff through
occasional cash transfers.)
After lunch, Judge Goodman briefed jurors about progress of the trial:
Hora expects to finish his half of the testimony on Th. 2008-02-07,
and defense might wind up a week later, depending on whether Hans
testifies or not. (Per the Fifth Amendment, he isn't obliged, but
Hans reportedly keeps trying to argue his way onto the witness stand
over his lawyer's objections. This would, if it occurs, add about a
week to the trial.) Closing arguments would follow, then jury
deliberations around Mo 2008-02-25. Even though Goodman described this
as a "pretty educated guess", prior experience in this trial suggests
schedule estimates are not reliable.
Erin Morasch resumed answering DuBois. Did Morasch examine any of
Hans's other Patelco banking activity between 1991 and Jan. 2006? (No.)
Was Morasch aware of just how far Latvia is from St. Petersberg, where
Nina's family lives? (He said he thought it was close, prompting a
sardonic head-shake from Hans.)
Did Morasch even know that Latvia was _a separate country_? At this
point, Morasch pretty much conceded DuBois's point, that as sudden
infusion of $8,000 from Latvia was peculiar for Nina, who had no history
with that country at all.
Prosecution's next witness was dependency investigator Seng Fong of
Alameda County Social Services, assigned to Children's Protective
Services (CPS), assigned to the case of Rory and Niorlene Reiser the day
police took them into protective custody, Fr 2006-09-08. Fong had
immediately filed a petition with Juvenile Court to review the case,
which was reassigned to Superior Court and heard We 2006-09-13, which
hearing was inconclusive and held to Mo 2006-09-18, when a judge ordered
the children put in foster care, which turned out to mean Nina's friend
Eight more hearings in Juvenile Court followed, with Hans's attorney
fighting for custody the whole time, Fong said. Fong added that she'd
personally recommended approval of Irina Sharanova (Nina's mother)
taking the children to Russia "for the holidays" -- which the judge
approved on Tu 2006-12-05, but Sharanova then broke the agreement to
return the children by We 2007-01-14.
On Th 2007-02-22 and We 2007-03-28, hearings ruled that the County would
take direct custody of the children, but, Fong readily conceded, that
was a dead letter because of Sharanova having kept them half-way around
the globe. Despite this, Family Court ruled that the children should
now be (legally) dependents of the court, with placement of the children
in Sharanova's custody approved.
DuBois interjected to point out that the matter of custody was still
unclear, and that defence believes Family Court's ability to oversee the
children's welfare from halfway around the world was questionable.
Judge Goodman acknowledged that this subject was still "on appeal" (and
both sides attorneys "stipulated" this fact, which means they agreed to
regard it as settled and not contest it, nor be able to examine
witnesses on that point) -- which dancing around defendant Hans Reiser's
biggest sort point (the spiriting of his children away to Russia against
court orders) prompted him to finally speak out-loud, attempting to
address Goodman, in front of the jurors.
Goodman: "Mr. Reiser, please, I'm as tolerant as I can be this
afternoon, and I'm starting to lose my patience. Talk to
your lawyer in a low tone."
DuBois said that Hans did indeed want to discuss some concerns with
Goodman, but could wait until the jury's departure for the day, which
Reiser objected to Goodman's claim that the children's custody was "on
appeal". (It's likely Hans's point was that Family Court had already
made a sad travesty of its mission, and that substantively it had not
"ruled" at all, but rather been utterly outfoxed and lost control.)
Reiser: "It's still an issue whether the U.S. courts have lost
jurisdiction over the children completely."
Goodman: "That's right, and what I said was it's still subject to
appeal, who's going to end up with the kids."
Reiser: "That implies that the U.S. appellate courts have the power."
[wags finger] "That doesn't apply."
Goodman: "Mr. Reiser, you point your finger at me again and use that
tone with me, you're going to have a serious problem. The
bottom line is, is there any court of any jurisdiction in
any country in this world who's said who's going to have
custody of the kids in the end, to your knowledge?"
Reiser: [hesitates, then speaks in a low monotone] "The U.S. courts
doesn't have the power to compel the kids to return."
Goodman: "That's not what I asked you. Has it been settled in any
court who's going to have custody of the kids in the end?
Is it not still subject to litigation?"
Reiser: "I'm hesitant to characterize the actions of the Russian
[Opinion: It's a fair question whether Hans can get a fair hearing in
St. Petersberg, and whether Family Court shouldn't admit that its
losing control and then awarding custody to lawbreaker Sharanova was
at best incompetent. Likewise, Hans is quite correct that Russian
authorities have no obligation to cooperate with US courts, which thus
by any functional measure have indeed "lost jurisdiction". It's also
understandable that Hans would be reluctant to injure his chances with
the St. Petersberg court by maligning it -- and it was unworthy of Judge
Goodman to attempt to troll him into doing so. If I were an Alameda
County taxpayer, I'd be pretty unhappy with this judge, about now. His
point to Hans in December, that he lacks jurisdiction over either
international affairs or Family Court, should have sufficed, and he
should quit stomping all over Hans's parental interests and just
concentrate on doing the darned trial.]
Reiser next renewed his request for personal access to all evidence in
his trial, and to be allowed possession of an iPod in jail so he could
listen to police interviews. Goodman again said no:
Unless you can show -- what I'm inclined to do is to have him come up
with a specific exhibit with a reason why, and maybe then we can make
those available, but we're not going to haul all this in here so he
can do whatever he pleases to do.
Reiser complained that Hora wasn't handing over evidence in a timely
manner, which Hora denied. Goodman countered that such turnover takes
time. Reiser then complained about the "way the trial was proceeding",
which Goodman cut off by saying that if Reiser was heading towards a
"Marsden motion" (motion for new counsel), this wouldn't work, because
DuBois and Tamor weren't court-appointed, but rather Reiser's own picks.
Goodman: "You can fire him at any time you want, but that's not going to
stop the trial from going forward."
Reiser: [says he thought there was an automatic 60-90 day continuance
if dependent got a new trial]
Goodman: [says that applies only before the trial starts] "We're not
stopping this trial for 60 to 90 days. That's not happening.
You fire him; we go tomorrow with whoever you have."
Goodman: "You know, Mr. Reiser, you can do whatever you want to do. You
have the right to represent yourself. Call any lawyer in Alameda
County and say, 'You want to do my trial?'"
Reiser: [says he can't make calls from jail]
Goodman: "Then you got friends who can make calls for you."
Reiser: "So you're not offering me a realistic alternative?"
Goodman: "I'm telling you how it's going to be be. This is becoming
absurd, Mr. Reiser. You've got two of the best attorneys.
If you want to fire him, if you want to represent yourself
starting tomorrow, go for it. Other than that, you get Mr.
DuBois, you get Mr. Tamor. They're doing a fine job. We'll
see everybody at 10 tomorrow morning."
[Opinion: Goodman, despite lapses elsewhere, appears quite correct, here.
To my layman's eyes, this case is still looking like a mistrial or
acquittal when/if it hits the jurors, and defence haven't even presented
their case, yet.]
We 2008-01-30: Before the jury's arrival, Goodman reviewed the prior
Thursday's closing discussion and put Hans Reiser "on notice" about
"disrupting the courtroom".
Cross-examination of CPS's Ms. Fong then started. DuBois asked her if
Oakland PD had had any role in her petition that had started the
child-custody proceedings. Fong replied that police "were concerned
about the children's safety", but denied that she'd acted on their
DuBois: "Have the children been injured by either parent, to your
Fong: "You mean physically? At the time of the petition, no."
DuBois: "They [Oakland PD] gave you a reason why you should file a
Fong: "They expressed their concern in terms of why we should be
involved, and then we make a determination that we should be
involved or not."
DuBois asked if CPS had acted on the basis of false information about
(1) Nina Reiser supposedly having sole physical custody of the children,
and (2) their not having been given any provisions for support. Fong
acknowledged that CPS indeed had supplied false data on those points to
Juvenile Court (from Oakland PD) within the first 48 hours, but had
later amended it.
DuBois asked what closed-door testimony Oakland PD had given in the
custody hearings. Hora objected (hearsay). Goodman asked DuBois to
DuBois said he wanted to show that police had used "Children's
Protective Services as a vehicle to drive my client into a condition
where they can describe his conduct as unusual and consistent with
consciousness of guilt, when as a matter of fact his mental state was
created in large part by the Oakland Police Department." Goodman
allowed the line of questioning.
So, DuBois asked if then-Oakland PD officer Ryan Gill (then of the
Missing Persons bureau) had testified that Oakland PD "had evidence that
they could not reveal that indicated that the kids should not be
returned to the father." Fong replied that it was up to the judge to
consider testimony from all parties before rendering a decision (which I
take as a "yes").
DuBois asked if CPS placed the child with Ellen Doren on Th 2006-09-21.
(Yes.) Did CPS have any problem with Sharanova taking the children to
Russia for vacation? (No.)
DuBois apologised to Fong for any appearance that he was "speaking
harshly of your agency", and assured her that his concerns were, in
fact, directed at her personally. (Two jurors laughed.)
DuBois: "Did it occur to your agency that they were about to move the
children from the jurisdiction of the very court that was about
to decide whether the maternal or paternal grandmother could
Fong: "I'm sure that they're aware of the fact that they're going to
Russia, and that's a different country. I'm sure that was taken
DuBois: [Wouldn't it be an understatement to say that Hans had tended
to go "ballistic" over the notion of his children being allowed
to go to Russia?]
Fong: "I recall that his attorney expressed an objection."
DuBois: [Wasn't it true that the attorney "objected vigorously?"]
Fong: "I think they expressed concerns, yes, that they would not
DuBois: "And as a matter of fact, did Irina have a round-trip ticket at
the time you made this request to travel? Or just a one-way
Fong: "A round-trip ticket."
DuBois: "Are you sure of that?"
Fong: "I was provided the information on the phone."
DuBois: "I see. Did you ever see the round-trip ticket?"
Fong: "I didn't, no. I didn't actually see it."
DuBois: "Did the court ever ask that it be produced?"
DuBois: "So actually, at the time this order was granted, no one knew
that Irina even had a round-trip ticket, isn't that correct,
other than what was said?"
Hora: "That's speculation, 'no one knew.'"
DuBois: "Do you think it was in the best interest of the children to
be taken to Russia for the rest of their lives?"
Hora: "Objection: That's speculation, too."
DuBois: "What was it that made you think that Irina would ever bring
the children back to the United States?"
Fong: "Well, she had an order to return the kids back."
(Basically, DuBois made a damned good case for Fong/CPS and the Oakland
police conspiring to yank custody of Hans's children from him, drive him
towards quite justified paranoia, and as a result push him towards
actions that could then be portrayed as suspicious in court.)
After more back-and-forth, attorneys went into chambers with Goodman,
emerging to say that both sides had agreed to a stipulation that (1) on
Tu 2006-12-05, a judge had received paperwork from Fong saying CPS had
no problem with the proposed Russian vacation, and (2) that Rory first
testified at the preliminary hearing on Mo 2006-12-11. Hans looked
unhappy at that news; Goodman warned him to stay quiet.
Next up was U-Haul traffic-control manager Grace De La Vega, testifying
that someone had visited Frank's One Stop in Manteca on Su 2006-09-17
seeking information on renting a truck and driving it to Oakland, having
the truck two days and with projected mileage of 112 miles. This
matches the U-Haul printout police found in Hans's CRX.
Next, attorneys agreed to a stipulation that an Oakland PD officer had
visited Beverly Palmer's boyfriend Mark McGothigan's house in Simson
Street, on Tu 2006-10-10, saw Hans Reiser in the driveway, arrested him
under an existing warrant, and found two collections of cash totaling
$5,790 and $2,018 in his possession.
Next witness was state Department of Justice special agent Michael
Fanucchi, who'd helped wiretap Hans's cellular line starting Fr
2006-09-15 and his landline starting We 2006-09-20, ending the day of
his arrest. Jurors heard tape-recordings of messages from Sharanova,
Doren, and Officer Gill -- with the clear implication that these
voicemails were listened to only until weeks later. (I believe this was
on account of a time stamp indicating when they were listened to.)
On cross-examination, asked Fanucchi if (in effect) the messages had
been marked as unheard until Sa 2006-09-23, when Reiser heard them for
the first time.
Fanucchi: "I can't testify that that was the first time it was heard."
DuBois: "All you can say is that on the 23rd of September, the
messages were pulled up, right?"
DuBois asked if it was possible to determine whether a message had been
heard "over and over again between the time it was received and time you
got this tap on the 23rd." Fanucchi said the wiretap data didn't allow
him to judge this.
Th 2006-01-31: Prosecutor Paul Hora called CPS's Seng Fong back for
a "redirect" (followup on the other side's cross-examination). Were
CPS's petitions to adjudicate custody based on other information besides
Fong: "I've consulted many other sources, yes."
Hora: "Excellent. Just identify some of those other sources for us
that you relied upon."
Fong: [Mentions family members, friends, the Reiser children's
teachers, the Family Court file, and doctors.]
She acknowledged Sharanova's failure to comply with the court's order to
return the children after their supposed "vacation".
Hora: "Did she just hide and not contact you?"
Fong: "Of course, it was a surprise to us. We were expecting her to
DuBois: "Objection, move to strike: non-responsive."
Fong: [small laugh] "We did maintain contact by phone." [Fong said
she regularly spoke to Sharanova and the children "just to
update the court on how they're doing."]
Hora: "Did she ever offer to you a reason why she didn't return?"
DuBois: [Objection: hearsay.]
Goodman: [Rules that a yes or no answer is OK.]
Hora: "What was the reason?"
DuBois: [Objection: hearsay.]
There was some contention about this line of questioning, and finally
Goodman took a hand directly with the witness:
Goodman: "She gave you a reason for why the kids didn't return, is
Goodman: "And based upon what she told you, did your agency make certain
decisions and/or recommendations?"
Fong: "Yes. Based on those reasons we asked her to provide
documentation to the agency that we could provide to the court."
Hora then asked Fong to confirm this statement to _him_. She said yes,
adding that the judge at that time had agreed to allow Sharanova
continued custody of the children.
This new claim permitted a brief renewed cross-examination by DuBois,
asking whether CPS had offered any alternative proposals to the judge.
Fong said the agency simply recommended Sharanova retain custody,
regardless of whether she was living in Russia or the US.
Next witness was Oakland PD gang-detail officer Gerardo Melero, who
testified that he and partner Cliff Bunn had detained Hans Reiser on Th
2006-09-28 around 5:30 pm, as Hans was walking on 22nd Street near
Telegraph. (Melero didn't say why.) Hans had no weapons. In his fanny
pack, he's had a large amount of cash, a Treo cellular with detached
battery, his passport, and some paperwork. He was driven to police HQ
and held briefly by officers Jesse Grant, Shan Johnson and Michael
Weisenberg of the Special Victims Unit (which includes Missing Persons).
In the process of explaining why they were searching the fanny pack in
the first place (looking for weapons), Melero suggested that Hans's
supply of cash and passport were "possible signs that he was leaving the
DuBois: "He was trying to leave the country via 22nd Street?"
Melero: [Gamely] "Eventually, you're going to get somewhere if you
keep walking down 22nd Street."
Next was Officer Grant, who detailed the police HQ session: Hans was
informed by Officer Johnson that police had a search warrant to take
photos of Hans's entire body, clothed and unclothed -- which revealed
nothing noteworthy (pimple-sized red marks on his chest and back).
(Grant mentioned the coincidence that Nina's cellular had likewise been
found with its battery detached, and that cellulars can be tracked only
if powered.) The officers counted $8,960 cash in the fanny pack. They
took a DNA sample, and dropped off Hans at his Exeter Drive house.
On cross-examination, Grant agreed with DuBois's suggestion that Oakland
PD had photographed Hans unclothed to look for any injuries of evidence
of involvement in an assault -- and found nothing.
Grant: "There were some small marks, but they weren't significant to
DuBois: "He has acne, doesn't he?"
Grant: "He does, yes." [Grant added that the marks could have been
either a small scratch _or_ acne.]
DuBois: "Either or."
Grant: "Correct." [Grant comments that he's not a doctor.]
Some byplay followed in which Grant attempted to deny that Hans had, in
fact, been cooperative with the examination despite being displeased,
and then more about the utility of carrying a spare battery for one's
cellular/PDA. It turned out that Grant is also a Treo user -- and
DuBois always carries a spare battery for his Motorola RAZR.
Court will reconvene Monday, Feb. 4, and Irina Sharanova will be
among prosecution's (closing) witnesses.
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