Officer told Nina Reiser to get gun

A retired Oakland police officer testified today that he advised Nina Reiser to get a gun to protect herself after witnessing her estranged husband's hostile behavior toward her.

Taking the witness stand in Hans Reiser's trial on charges he murdered Nina Reiser, 31, who disappeared on Sept. 3, 2006, Ben Denson said he observed bad feelings between the two when they used the police

headquarters building in downtown Oakland to pick up and drop off their children on multiple occasions in 2005.

Denson said that during one particularly contentious visit, “I told her, 'You need to get yourself a gun.'”

Denson said, “It was my impression that the defendant (Hans Reiser, a 43-year-old computer engineer) displayed hostility toward Nina and I would call it barely restrained aggression.”

However, Denson said he never witnessed any physical fights between the two and never saw Hans put his hands on Nina.

Hans and Nina Reiser married in 1999 but Nina Reiser filed for divorce in 2004 and they had been undergoing bitter divorce proceedings for more than two years at the time she disappeared.

Nina Reiser's body has never been found despite extensive searches in the Oakland hills and elsewhere.

Nina Reiser was awarded both legal and physical custody of the couple's two children, but Hans Reiser was allowed to have them one weeknight a week and every other weekend.

Hans Reiser has insisted he is innocent. His attorney, William DuBois, has said he thinks Nina Reiser might still be alive and could be in hiding in Russia, where she was born and where she was trained as a physician. Alternatively, DuBois has said Nina might have been killed by Russian spies or mobsters.

Also today, Sandra Starr Rudd, an employee at the Barnes and Noble bookstore on Shattuck Avenue in downtown Berkeley, which closed earlier this year, testified that Hans Reiser bought two books about murder and homicides on Sept. 8, 2006, five days after Nina disappeared.

The books were “Masterpieces of Murder” by Jonathan Goodman, about true notorious murder cases, and “Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets,” which is about the Baltimore police homicide squad.

— Bay City News

Bay Area NewsLocal

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