Reiser murder trial to resume today

After a 26-day break for the holidays, today prosecutor Paul Hora will continue his attempt to prove that computer engineer Hans Reiser of Oakland murdered his wife Nina even though her body has never been found.

When Reiser's high-profile trial adjourned at the end of the day on Dec. 18, there had been 20 days of trial testimony, 35 witnesses and 130 exhibits in the case, according to Alameda County Superior Court Judge Larry Goodman, who's presiding over the case.

On the next day, Dec. 19, Reiser celebrated his 44th birthday in the Alameda County Jail, where he's been held without bail since he was arrested on Oct. 10, 2006, five weeks after Nina Reiser was last seen on Sept. 3, 2006, when she dropped off the couple's two children at the house at 6868 Exeter Drive in the Oakland hills where he lived with his mother.

Nina Reiser's body has never been found despite extensive searches in the Oakland hills and elsewhere, but Hans Reiser was charged in October of 2006 with murdering Nina after Oakland police said they found biological and trace evidence tying him to her death.

Hora said last week that it probably will take him another three weeks to finish presenting all the prosecution's evidence in the case.

Before the trial began, Hora said, “I must prove that Nina is dead, that Hans Reiser killed her and that he committed murder.”

Hora has spent most of the first part of the trial attempting to prove that Nina is dead by presenting numerous witnesses who said that she never would have abandoned her children and other witnesses who said that she had much to live for and was excited about starting a new job in late September 2006, shortly after she disappeared.

Hora will spend the next part of the case trying to prove that Hans Reiser killed her by presenting Oakland police officers and criminalists who will testify about physical evidence, such as blood and DNA, that they believe connects him to Nina's death.

Nina and Hans Reiser married in 1999 but she filed for divorce and separated from him in 2004. The couple was in the midst of acrimonious divorce proceedings and a struggle over custody of their two children when she disappeared.

Hans Reiser has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

His attorney, William DuBois, has said that he thinks Nina may still be alive and in hiding in Russia, where she was born and where she was trained as a physician.

The couple's children currently are living with Nina's mother in St. Petersburg, Russia.

DuBois said last week that he hasn't made up his mind about whether he will have Reiser testify in his own defense.

DuBois previously has said that he would prefer to keep Reiser off the witness stand but Reiser has been adamant about testifying.

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