It took nearly six months of trial and three days of deliberation for an Alameda County jury to convict Hans Reiser of murder in the first degree. The trial in many ways was rare and may be the case that serves as the cosecant of the insanity of this first decade of the 21st century. It may be the one calculation we can make to see just how wide and how far the batshit of America now goes. It certainly had the all the earmarks of this brave new world.
From the start, it had a rare sizzle that baked the ink on the page. Wired had by far the most comprehensive coverage, with David Kravets checking in each agaonizing day of the nearly impossible case to be made by the prosecution and the equally impossible defense of a hopelessly arrogant geek. The details of the characters of the Attic tragedy boiled over like a forgotten pot making napalm soup. The deceased mail order bride from Russia who just embezzled from Reiser’s company Namesys. The confession by Reiser’s sadomasochist best friend that he killed eight people and the discovery of the same’s long affair with the departed. The recently hosed down Honda with the missing front seat and two books purchased recently by Reiser about police investigation techniques tossed in the trunk. Were someone to write it, I’m not sure any editor would find it plausible.
Throughout the trial, the court of public opinion, blind to Reiser’s fame in geek culture, only saw a nervous nerd with loathsome social awareness and tenuous excuses, eliciting overt dislike even from Judge Larry Goodman.
You are rude. You are arrogant. There are not enough words in the English language to describe the way you are.
Meddling, irritating, and irreverent to the societal norms that most people who aren’t complete douchebags respect, Reiser reminded everyone who stood in judgment of that jerk in their calculus class. When I was growing up they pejoratively referred to these people -- usually me -- as “smart but no common sense.” In Reiser’s case, the common sense to just shut up when the prosecution has no crime scene, no body, no murder weapon, and a “victim’s” shady past escaped his grasp.
“That surprises you?” a colleague asked as I exclaimed shock at the news of the conviction. That anyone can be convicted of Murder One without any physical evidence is unbelievable. That the best defense Reiser’s attorney could deliver was the “geek defense” was inexcusable. Regardless of the verdict, the only thing anyone can say with conviction after this trial is that Hans Reiser is a suspicious looking jackhole. First degree murder shouldn’t be something with this level of ambiguity.
As we learned with the West Memphis Three, geeks just suck at this.