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Sep 27, 2007

Dec 14, 2006

Officer: Murder defendant hid car after wife's disappearance

Murder defendant Hans Reiser of Oakland hid his car in a quiet West Berkeley neighborhood after his wife Nina Reiser disappeared in September, an Oakland police officer said Wednesday in Alameda County Superior Court.

Testifying in the third day of a preliminary hearing that will determine whether there's enough evidence to order Hans Reiser, 43, to stand trial, Officer Gino Guerrero said Reiser engaged in a lengthy cat-and-mouse game with surveillance officers who were trailing him on the evening of Sept. 18, 15 days after Nina Reiser was last seen alive.

During a break in Wednesday's hearing, prosecutor Greg Dolge said Hans Reiser was "avoiding police at all costs'' and his behavior is "evidence of a guilty conscience.''

Nina Reiser, 31, who was trained as a gynecologist in her native Russia, was last seen about 2 p.m. on Sept. 3 when she dropped off the couple's two children at Hans Reiser's home in the 6900 block of Exeter Drive in Oakland's Montclair district.

Hans Reiser, a computer programmer, and Nina Reiser married in 1999 but separated in May 2004. They were undergoing contentious divorce proceedings at the time she disappeared but the divorce wasn't finalized.

Nina Reiser was awarded both legal and physical custody of the couple's 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter while Hans Reiser was allowed to have the children one weeknight per week and every other weekend.

Nina Reiser's body hasn't been found, but in October Hans Reiser was charged with murdering her after Oakland police said they found biological and trace evidence suggesting that she is dead as well as blood evidence tying him to her death.

Guerrero said officers trailed Hans Reiser, both by car and by airplane, after he left family court at 600 Washington St. in Oakland, which is in the same block as an Oakland police station, late in the afternoon of Sept. 18.

According to a probable cause statement in the case, Reiser and a male friend "appeared to be conducting counter surveillance'' to avoid police by driving at varying speeds, turning down small quiet residential streets and making abrupt stops.

Guerrero said Reiser and his friend eventually had dinner at Fonda restaurant on Solano Avenue in Albany and afterward the friend, who was driving a silver BMW, dropped Reiser at the corner of San Pablo and Ashby avenues in Berkeley.

Guerrero said Reiser walked around the area furtively, stopping occasionally to look in all directions, and eventually got into a 1988 Honda CRX that was parked on Acton Street near Carleton Street.

Guerrero said police then followed Reiser as he drove the car to 2425 Monterey Road in Oakland. According to the probable cause statement, the location is less than three miles away from where Reiser was living with his mother, Beverly Palmer.

Palmer testified on Tuesday that she had been out of town the weekend Nina Reiser disappeared and was surprised to learn that her son was driving her car, a 2003 Honda Hybrid, and that his Honda CRX wasn't at the house.

Palmer said that when she asked her son where the CRX was, he said it wasn't working and "he'd take care of it and I should never mind.''

According to the probable cause statement, when officers recovered the Honda CRX on the morning of Sept. 19, they immediately noticed that it was missing its front right passenger seat.

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