A lawyer for the son and daughter of convicted killer Hans Reiser told jurors in his civil trial Wednesday that the children should be compensated for the murder of their mother.
Arturo Gonzalez, who represents 12-year-old Rory and 11-year-old Niorline Reiser in their wrongful death lawsuit, said in his opening statement that the value of a mother-child relationship is “priceless.”
Gonzalez said Hans Reiser claims that he is now indigent but said he doesn’t know if that is true. The lawyer said Reiser, a computer engineer who once owned a small software company, may have money and could possibly develop valuable software while in prison.
Reiser, 48, is serving 15 years to life in state prison for killing his wife, 31-year-old Nina Reiser, at his home in the Oakland hills Sept. 3, 2006.
She remained missing until 2008, when Hans Reiser led them to a spot near his home where he had buried her.
Nina Reiser’s close friend Ellen Doren testified Wednesday how Nina was an involved parent, volunteering at the children’s schools, reading to them, cooking for them and taking them to doctor’s appointments.
Doren said that before Nina’s death, the children were “very outgoing, social and happy.” After Nina’s disappearance, the children were placed with a foster family. “The kids looked awful,” she said, noting that Niorline had been chewing on her hair and looked nervous.
Alameda County Superior Court Judge Dennis Hayashi told jurors that they should focus narrowly on what damages, if any, should be awarded to the children.
Reiser, who is acting as his own attorney, didn’t address the issue of damages in his opening statement and instead attacked Nina Reiser’s character.