Dad Who Killed Wife Ordered to Pay $60M to Children

Jury not swayed by Linux programmer's bizarre defense
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2012 1:34 AM CDT
This 1999 California DMV photo shows Nina Reiser, who was murdered by her husband in 2006.   (AP Photo/DMV photo via The Oakland Tribune)
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(Newser) – In a postscript to one of the weirder murder trials of recent years, a California computer programmer has been ordered to pay $60 million to his two children to compensate them for his murder of their mother. Hans Reiser strangled his estranged wife in 2006, when his children were five and six years old. He was found guilty of first-degree murder but that was reduced to second-degree in a deal in which he agreed not to appeal the verdict—and to lead investigators to his wife's body.

In the civil trial, as in his criminal one, Reiser offered a bizarre, rambling defense, saying he had killed his wife to protect the children and comparing himself to Moses killing a slave master. Reiser claims to be broke, but jurors said they padded the damages in case he has hidden assets or plans to cash in on intellectual property. His son and daughter, who now live in Russia with their maternal grandmother, "were horribly damaged by this," the jury foreman tells the San Francisco Chronicle. The jury, he says, wanted to "make darn sure that the children were well taken care of, that they would have the psychological help that they needed for the rest of their life."

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