Open-source developer's murder trial a laughing matter

There's nothing funny about a murder trial. Unless there is. Open-source developer Hans Reiser is being tried in Oakland for the murder of his wife Nina, a mail-order bride. Reiser, who frequently argues with his own defense attorneys in court, is accused of killing his estranged wife to end a contentious divorce and custody battle. The defense alleges Nina, who had an affair with Reiser's friend, Sean Sturgeon, has run away to her homeland of Russia. Sturgeon claims to be a serial killer. With us so far?

In presenting the theory that Nina ran off with some man, defense attorney William Dubois displayed several Craigslist dating pages that the woman had visited just prior to her disappearance. One contained several pornographic images. While Dubois continued his argument, fellow defense lawyer Richard Tamor fumbled with the controls, causing the same image to pop up several times.

"You need to lose that picture," Superior Court judge Larry Freeman quipped. To laughter, he told the jury: "Sometimes low tech is better than high tech."
(Courtroom sketch by Wired/Norman Quebedeau)