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Linux guru Hans Reiser convicted of first-degree murder

Estranged wife's body never found

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A jury has convicted Hans Reiser, developer of the ReiserFS filesystem for Linux, of first degree murder for killing his estranged wife in 2006 even though her body was never found.

As the verdict was read in Alameda County Superior Court, Reiser furrowed his brows. Dressed in the same dark coat he's worn for months, the 44-year old defendant asked if he could speak with his attorney and he was escorted from the courtroom by a bailiff.

The verdict caps almost six months of trial and three days of jury deliberations. Although the the case was built almost entirely on circumstantial evidence, prosecutors managed to convince the jury with the help of about 60 witnesses, including Reiser himself. Prosecutors seized on the fact that shortly after the murder Reiser removed and discarded the passenger seat of his Honda CRX and then hosed it down, leaving an inch of water on the floorboard.

During 11 days of rambling testimony, Reiser said he was simply trying to clean the car's interior and wrongly assumed the water would drain. He also said he removed hard drives from his computer because he resented government officials taking all his possessions.

Nina Reiser, 31, was last seen September 3, 2006 while dropping off the couple's two children. Six days later police found her minivan in the Oakland hills. A few miles away the found Reiser's waterlogged car with the missing seat and two books on police murder investigations inside. It also contained a sleeping-bag cover stained with her blood.

Reiser faces a maximum of 25 years to life when he is sentenced. Additional coverage from Wired News and The San Francisco Chronicle can be found here and here. ®

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