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THE REISER TRIAL RESUMES -- THE PICTURE EMERGES SLOWLY
The Han Reiser jury resumed its work today, hearing from a crime scene technician, Bruce Christensen, who showed pictures he took at Hans Reiser’s place about a week after Nina was reported missing – the jury’s attention was drawn to the three large trash cans in the driveway. He also described a visit to the home of Hans’ mother’s friend, Mark, prompting a dispute - out of the jury’s presence – about a communication on the computer screen there.
Additional pictures included bags of cement in the unfinished basement at Hans’ house. We could hear more about the cement later. Remember Hoffa?
After lunch, an OPD Officer described how he and his fellow officer secretly tailed Reiser - who was now thought to be a suspect – on September 8.
Recall that Nina’s girlfriend had called the police on Sept. 6 who overheard a conversation between her and Hans in which Hans abruptly terminated – he needed to see a lawyer.
The officer described a classic Hollywood surveillance and evasion dance – Hans’ changed speeds and directions in a manner consistent with someone trying to reveal or shake a tail.
The same officer picked up the kids at school and took them into protective custody. Why, DuBois asked: The officer was concerned that “The children could be in harm’s way”.
Police also described a later search of Nina’s home where they found contact lens cases, passports for Nina and the kids and $1900 in cash, among other items consistent with items left behind by someone who was not planning to leave the country any time soon.
The jury saw the store video of Nina and the kids picking up the groceries later found rotting in her abandoned car. The time was about 2 PM.
An officer described the massive but fruitless search of the East Bay Regional park area for Nina’s body.
All too gradually, the jury is being brought into the mindset of the police detectives who have attempted to solve this vexing case. The exact locations and quantities of recovered blood will be crucial in this slowly emerging circumstantial case. Dubois will exploit the “circumstantial evidence rule”, an admonition that each bit of circumstantial evidence can be disregarded if there exists an reasonable explanation consistent with innocence.
In an interview with Chronicle reporter Henry Lee, I pointed out the obvious –
“The problem that the prosecutor is facing is that at some stage leading up to the final argument, the D.A. will have to have a clear theory that includes stuff for which there's no real compelling evidence…A jury isn't going to be satisfied with just open-ended questions. There's got to be some discussion of how he did it and where he put the body.”
As I wrote here over the weekend – Hans probably needs to testify because there are so many things that need explanation if the jury is to entertain a reasonable doubt. But that is the rub:
If Hans testifies, you can expect the defense to quickly rest its case. Why? Everything Hans says - - where he disposed of the car seat, what he was doing in Truckee, and so on – is subject to investigation and possible rebuttal. The DA’s investigators will have very little time to do this. Expect the DA to put on some minor rebuttal witnesses to buy time, hoping for a long weekend recess.
The investigators will be working overtime.