Software Guru that Killed Wife Must Pay $60M to Children

By Andrew Lu on July 18, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Hans Reiser was ordered to pay his two children $60 million in the wrongful death lawsuit brought against him for killing his wife.

As a result of the verdict, Hans Reiser's proceeds from his software projects will likely all go directly to his kids, reports NBC. Reiser has already been sentenced to 15 years to life in the criminal trial for killing his wife, so he probably didn't have much need for the money anyway.

The wrongful death trial against Reiser lasted less than a week, but there were plenty of twists and turns along the way.

Probably the most notable thing about the civil trial was that Hans Reiser decided to represent himself. In his criminal trial, Reiser hired a legal team who unsuccessfully argued that his wife, Nina Reiser, was still alive and had simply fled back to her native Russia.

Acting pro se in the civil trial, Reiser took a markedly different tact. He admitted to killing his wife, but saying he did it to protect his young children from their mother. Reiser's efforts at playing attorney was not convincing as he was described as "rambling" and "crying" in front of the jury, reports NBC.

Perhaps due to his poor representation of himself, the other shocker in the Hans Reiser verdict was that he was ordered to pay over twice what the plaintiffs were asking for. The plaintiffs' attorney had sought $10 million for each child plus $5 million in punitive damages. The jury ended up awarding $25 million for each child and $10 million in punitive damages.

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