Linux file system creator convicted of murder


— 6:00 AM on April 29, 2008

Hans Reiser, perhaps best known as the creator of the ReiserFS and Reiser4 file systems for Linux, will be spending the next quarter of a century (or more) in prison. According to Wired, after a lengthy trial, the software engineer has been convicted of murdering his wife Nina two years ago. Reiser's conviction was based chiefly on circumstantial evidence, but there was apparently plenty of that to go around:

When police eventually located Hans Reiser's Honda CRX a few miles from his home, they found the interior waterlogged, the passenger seat missing, and two books on police murder investigations inside. They also found a sleeping-bag cover stained with a 6-inch wide blotch of Nina's dried blood.

In an 11-day stretch on the stand, Reiser attempted to explain away some of the evidence. However, he failed to convince jurors, whom Wired says "were seen shaking their heads in disbelief, laughing to themselves and wearing skeptical looks."

In a characteristic exchange under cross-examination, Reiser tried to explain why he'd removed and discarded the passenger seat from his two-seater Honda CRX after Nina vanished. His explanation: He'd been sleeping in the vehicle, and wanted the extra room. Asked why he hosed down the inside of the car, leaving an inch of water on the floorboard, he explained that the interior was dirty, and he mistakenly believed the water would drain out.

At the end of the testimony, Wired says, Reiser had succeeded only in presenting jurors with the choice of "Reiser's strained version of events and the plain conclusion that he was lying." Reiser's behavior throughout the trial also seemed to irritate the judge, who at one point told Reiser once the jury had left, "You are rude . . . You are arrogant. There are not enough words in the English language to describe the way you are."

   
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