Parent testifies Reiser said he’d be better off without family

A fellow parent at an Oakland school testified Monday that she thought it was “inappropriate and strange” when Hans Reiser told her at a school party that his estranged wife Nina and their two kids were a financial burden to him.

Taking the witness stand in Hans Reiser’s trial on charges that he murdered Nina, who disappeared Sept. 3, 2006, Clare Conry-Murray said Reiser told her at a school party in the spring of 2006 that “he would be free financially if he didn’t have to take care of them.”

Conry-Murray, whose son attended Grand Lake Montessori School with the Reiser’s two children, said Hans Reiser also “was complaining about Nina.”

Conry-Murray, who left the Bay Area in the summer of 2006 and is now a visiting professor at the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y., said, “I thought it was an inappropriate and strange thing to say at a party for parents.”

She said, “It really stood out for me because it’s not the normal thing parents complain about.”

Hans Reiser, a 43-year-old computer engineer, and Nina married in 1999, but Nina filed for divorce in August of 2004 and they had been undergoing bitter divorce proceedings for more than two years at the time she disappeared. She was 31 at the time.

Nina Reiser’s body has never been found despite extensive searches in the Oakland hills and elsewhere, but Hans Reiser who has pleaded not guilty, was charged with murdering her after Oakland police said they found biological and trace evidence tying him to her death.

DuBois has suggested that Nina might still be alive and in hiding in Russia, where she was born and were she was trained as a physician. The couple’s children live with Nina’s mother in Russia.

Asked by prosecutor Paul Hora if Nina were the type of mother who would vanish voluntarily and abandon her children, Conry-Murray said, “That would be impossible.”

She said Nina “was the most patient person, gentle and soft-spoken and was really great with kids. She was a great parent.”

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