Computer Programmer Leads Police to Wife's Body

Hans Reiser got a reduced sentence for agreeing to show police the body.

July 7, 2008 — -- ABC News has learned that convicted murderer Hans Reiser led police to a body he says is that of his estranged wife, Nina. In exchange for revealing the location of the body, Reiser is expected to get his conviction reduced from first degree murder to second degree murder, and will likely serve less jail time.

On April 28, a California jury convicted Reiser, 44, of first degree murder in the disappearance of his wife, even though her body had not been found.

The sentencing, originally scheduled for July 9, has been postponed until forensics on the body are complete. A first degree murder conviction would result in a sentence of 25 years to life in prison, while the second degree conviction carries a sentence of 15 to life.

ABC's "20/20" previously reported on the case of Nina Reiser, a 31-year-old doctor and mother of two, who went missing on Sept. 3, 2006. She had been in the midst of an acrimonious divorce from her husband, a well-known computer programmer.

Reiser, shackled to his defense attorney, William Du Bois, led police on a long hike in California's Redwood State Park to a ravine where his wife was buried deep in the ground inside a plastic bag.

In addition to Reiser and Du Bois, the prosecution trial attorney, Paul Hora, and Judge Larry Goodman -- presiding over the Reiser case -- were present on the hike. The body will be recovered tonight, and a coroner's van is standing by.

Search for Bride Ends in Murder

Reiser was a child prodigy who dropped out of junior high school and enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, at age 15. After college, he made his mark in the business world, starting a technology company and developing a new computer file system some consider revolutionary.

Reiser went to Russia in 1998 looking for cheap labor for his computer business, and a bride. He met Nina in 1998, and by May 1999, Reiser married his Russian bride. Nina was, by then, five months pregnant. A bizarre wedding video shows a nontraditional wedding -- Reiser's best friend Sean Sturgeon, dressed in drag, was the maid of honor.

The couple were happy in the early years of their marriage, giving birth to a son, Rory, and daughter Niroline. But fights about how those children were being raised were at the center of a marriage that began to crumble.

Reiser lost custody of his children in the divorce proceedings before his wife's disappearance.

Nina disappeared more than a year ago after dropping off the couple's children at Reiser's home. After the disappearance, even without a body, it didn't take long for police to arrest Reiser and charge him with his wife's murder.

After a six-month trial, he was convicted of her murder in April.