'Geek Defense' Crash-and-Burn: Reiser Found Guilty
Hans Reiser, the programmer responsible for the ReiserFS file system, has been on trial for the murder of his estranged wife for the past six months. Yesterday, that all ended with a jury finding Reiser guilty of first-degree murder.
Reiser's trial has been a strange affair, with prosecutors at one point implicating Reiser's six-year-old son in the cover-up. The defendant's behavior has been equally if not more bizarre, with the judge at one point telling Reiser that if he didn't stop interrupting while his attorney questioned witnesses, he would be forced to remove Reiser from the trial. Reiser's personality, which has been described by his own attorney as "abrasive," hasn't helped matters much — despite valiant efforts by his legal team to mount a "geek defense," painting him as a stereotypical computer programmer able only to understand logic and completely socially inept.
The defense doesn't seem to have worked, despite the fact that Reiser was particularly good at portraying it, even getting the judge to remark "You are rude. You are arrogant. There are not enough words in the English language to describe the way you are." Some have suggested it may have been Reiser's insistence on testifying for himself that sealed the jury's verdict, as many were seen to spend most of the eleven days of testimony shaking their heads in disbelief.
Wired has provided gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial, available on the Threat Level blog. Additionally, video of the reading of the verdict, made available by Wired on YouTube, is embedded below.