Conviction for Missing Russian Wife

OAKLAND, California -- A software programmer was convicted of first-degree murder for killing his estranged Russian wife, who he contends may be living elsewhere.

Hans Reiser, 44, bowed his head in court as the jury found him guilty of a crime that carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

Nina Reiser disappeared more than a year ago after dropping off the couple's children at Hans Reiser's home. Her body has never been found.

Reiser, known in programming circles as creator of the ReiserFS computer file system, testified for several days in the six-month trial, often giving rambling answers and getting scolded for arguing with the prosecutor.

Defense lawyer William Du Bois said he was disappointed with Monday's verdict but did not think things would have gone differently if Reiser had never taken the stand.

Tom Orloff, the district lawyer for Alameda County, said the verdict "does justice for Nina Reiser and her family."

Du Bois argued during the trial that there was no direct evidence linking his client to Nina Reiser's disappearance and suggested that the woman might be living in her native Russia or may be the victim of foul play.

But prosecutors argued the circumstantial evidence against Reiser was strong: The two were involved in a bitter custody dispute, traces of her blood were found in his home and car and witnesses testified that she would never have left her children.

Also, prosecutor Paul Hora said that after Nina Reiser disappeared, Reiser threw away the passenger seat of his car, hosed down the floorboards and started withdrawing large amounts of cash.

When Reiser was arrested in October 2006, he was carrying his passport and thousands of dollars.

Du Bois portrayed Reiser as eccentric, but nonviolent, and said there were innocent explanations for his behavior.

Hora also said Reiser hated his estranged wife, and saw her as "the destroyer."