July 8th, 2008
05:08 PM ET

A little truth... a big break

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/08/art.ninareiser.jpg caption="Sheriff's department personnel bundle remains onto a gurney for transport to the Coroner's office."]
Gabe Falcon
AC360° Writer

In the end, Hans Reiser told the truth, but at what price for justice?

Ever since his wife, Nina, vanished in 2007, the software programmer has insisted he was innocent. When he was tried for her murder, he testified that he had nothing to do with her disappearance. He kept the charade up even after his conviction earlier this year.

But this week, a change of heart from the cold-blooded killer.

Surrounded by armed by police officers, Reiser himself led police to her body, buried in a shallow grave in between a park and reserve in Oakland, California. He also revealed details about how he murdered his wife, admitting to strangling her after he says the two had an argument.

Reiser’s cooperation wasn’t voluntary – it was part of a deal with the prosecution. In exchange for showing where his wife’s remains were, Reiser will be convicted for second-degree murder, not the original first-degree murder charge that he was found guilty for.

The difference is not small. A second-degree conviction for murder means he won’t necessarily spend life in prison. Fact is, with second-degree, instead of 25-years to life, he’ll be looking at 15-life for his crime.

A murderer gets a break for telling the truth.

Is that fair?

Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gabe Falcon
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. Jo Anne Cummings

    This story is a good argument for capital punishment in all states when it comes to this kind of crime.......no?

    July 8, 2008 at 10:16 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    Fair? Not by a long shot. He shouldn't get a break for showing where his wife was buried or telling the whole grisly story of what he did to her. No time is enough time for murder – I hope his wife's family shows up at all the parole hearings when he starts to seek parole and testifies against him so that he stays in jail as long as possible.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 8, 2008 at 9:30 pm |
  3. Victor in Saanich, B.C. Canada

    You want to talk disgusting?? Try coming up to Canada!! Here, it doesn't seem to matter how many you kill, the longest sentence is twenty five [25!!] years!! As soon as you are convicted, there are some people trying to get you parole or sent to a minimum security prison!! These places we happily [???] refer to as "Club Fed!!". In Canada, the victim is always too soon forgotten and the criminal is Priority One!!

    July 8, 2008 at 9:05 pm |
  4. Alex

    Sadly, this is the reality of our Criminal Justice System at work. Remember folks "justice" is blind sometimes in an imperfect world. Murder seems to most to be the ultimate crime against another human being, but personally I believe Rape and Child Molestation are tied for being the absolute worst. It may shock many folks out there, but Murderers are the least less likely to recidivate (recommit the same crime) and are the lowest parole risk for those who aren't committed to prison for life. Perhaps that is shocking to most and though it may not seem right (and I'm not saying it is), thats the real world. Someone above said it best, that at least the victim's family can now have that "closure" and their daughter can have a respect-filled burial that she deserves.

    July 8, 2008 at 8:16 pm |
  5. Jim

    Fair- NO! RIGHT? NO!
    First He does the crime, Then He stands in a Court room & pleads " Not Guilty" wasting the Judge & Jury's time. He is Convicted of the crime -one that God said is to be punished by DEATH- You then have him sent away for 15 years- tell me when He gets out will He kill someone else? How many times has a CRIMINAL been let out of Jail then goes RIGHT BACK TO doing the SAME crime they went in for or WORSE. WAKE UP Legislatures,Judges.

    July 8, 2008 at 7:53 pm |
  6. Emma

    It's incredibly unfair. He deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison. On the other hand, I seriously doubt he would have revealed the location without some sort of deal. It's disgusting to think he's being rewarded for this. However, at least now her family can provide her with a proper burial.

    July 8, 2008 at 7:31 pm |
  7. EJ (USA)

    Maybe the family thought it was more important to find out where her remains were and give her a proper burial? I would assume that the family knew about the deal. All of the details are not in this 360 overview so how can any of us know unless we go try to research the whole story?

    Obviously the gist of it is not fair but plea deals like this happen every day.

    July 8, 2008 at 7:23 pm |
  8. Sabrina in Los Angeles

    Not Fair.

    It is much like our extradition law with Mexico...Killers get away with murder and are slapped on the hands with a lighter sentence.

    The innocent one is dead and can't testify or get the proper justice.

    July 8, 2008 at 6:31 pm |
  9. Tammy

    Hans Reiser should not be able to plea for anything except a therapist as he deals with the guilt and anguish of murdering his children's mother. What monster does that to his babies? Nina Reiser was an acquaintance of my cousin and his wife. Their kids knew each other. I had gone to visit my cousin and his family in Oakland right after Nina disappeared. I remember talking with my cousin, his wife, and some of the parents in their circle about this at different times during the trip. They all said that she wouldn't leave her kids. They all knew she loved them too much to ever walk away from them on her own. I just remember thinking how scary it had to be for her kids to suddenly not know where their mom was. I was naive enough at the time to even be sad for her husband that his wife had disappeared and foul play was suspected. Today is a sad day for those who loved and respected her, especially for her family, friends, and acquaintances. Children lost their mom at the hands of their dad, a horror they will have to deal with for the rest of their lives and somehow resolve. To let this guy off easier because he led them to her remains is a desecration of her memory and a kick in the gut to her survivors. Nina Reiser and her kids deserve better from Lady Justice than this.

    July 8, 2008 at 6:29 pm |
  10. Teresa, Oh

    Is it fair that he only gets 15 yrs? No. There should be no excuses or backsies. The only factor here would be IF her family agreed to this in order to get "closure" in order to move on. Logically speaking... shouldnt the bastard get MORE time for revealing the body, telling how she died, and then lying about it?

    I'm getting old and mean. I have had it with criminals, one and all. Murderers and molesters: I want you all dead so you cant ever hurt anyone else. Dead.

    July 8, 2008 at 6:12 pm |
  11. Kelli, San Francisco, CA

    It's disgusting to see this man make a deal in order to lower his sentence. Just like in the Scott Peterson trial, we watched while this man FAKED tears, lied to his children, pretended to weep in front of Nina's family and friend's and so much more. Adding insult to injury, the California tax payers get to foot the bill for the trial that went on for over 2 years. It sickens me to know that he knew exactly where she was the entire time, and what he did to her. My heart goes out to her children.

    July 8, 2008 at 6:05 pm |
  12. Lilibeth

    No, it isn’t fair that he gets a break for telling the truth. He still killed his wife. Killing is a vicious act and the punishment should fit the crime. If the deal were upheld, it would set a bad precedent and it would be a severe blow to the justice system.

    Edmonds, Washington

    July 8, 2008 at 5:24 pm |
  13. Cindy

    That is ridiculous that Reiser gets to cop a plea and only serve 15 years at best for telling the truth about killing his wife. I am sure his wife's family wanted to get her body so they could properly bury it and know the truth but to give him a break like that was too much in my opinion. He didn't show his wife any mercy the day he killed her so why should he get any mercy!?

    And after you are convicted in court can the DA really change the sentence? I thought that once you were convicted that the only way that could be changed was by going back to court and having another trial.


    July 8, 2008 at 5:23 pm |