As first Published on the Out-Lawyer’s Blog
The Policy Think Site ( http://www.jaygaskill.com )
Copyright 2007 by Jay B. Gaskill, Attorney at Law
The Hans Reiser murder trial resumes tomorrow (Monday).
Among the various reports of the last session, we can glean several additional tidbits, two (or one) of them are possibly significant.
Grandma and other members of young R…’s Russian family did indeed try to influence his mind, firmly planting the notion that Dad may well have killed Mom. Evidently the boy was looking on when a family member surfed the net for stories about the murder case.
From my vantage point, this information will have less impact than the defense hopes, if only because jurors will have concluded – as did the authorities – that a disappearance of this kind is more likely than not to be the result of foul play and that the husband is the most likely culprit.
Just as the jurors are keeping an open mind about the ultimate question – at least for now - they are not getting the picture of a son who is unreasonably convinced of Dad’s guilt, just very worried.
From the prosecution’s perspective, the whole discussion tends to undercut the defense theory that Nina is hiding somewhere, yet has made no effort to contact her children. Few, if any, grandparents could get away with manufacturing the faux murder of a living mother and successfully hide the information that she is still alive from both of her children. Even neglectful moms develop anguish over this kind of separation. I suspect Nina could have avoided her own extradition to the states by coming clean. Once in Russia with her kids, Nina would have little to gain and much to lose by attempting to frame Hans.
It is R….’s obvious intelligence that makes Nina’s permanent disappearance more plausible. If people were trying to hide Mom from him, it is very likely he’d pick up on it.
After cross examination of his son and when the session was over (and presumably the moment when Hans may never see his son again) courtroom observers report that he was crying. At last the jury might have noticed some evidence of humanity.
A cautionary note: When the (now convicted) murderer Scott Peterson was seen looking through a catalogue that contained pictures of outdoor clothing for his unborn son (the one who died in utero along with Scott’s wife) he also wept; this was a rare display of human emotion.
Anger over child custody (especially when Nina obtained Russian citizenship for the two children about two months before the murder) is a strong motive for homicide.
Over the next several days, the prosecution needs to create a tight chronology, one that would allow Hans enough time to have killed Nina and disposed of her remains. After a full year, this jury will expect to be shown at least one plausible body disposal scenario. Watch for mention of a certain out-of-town storage unit…
To be continued….