The court is not in session tomorrow, nor Monday (the MLK holiday). Evidence resumes for just two days next week – 1-22 and 23; then the trial resumes its four day schedule on Monday January 28. A leisurely trial pace is not uncommon in Judge Goodman’s court, who maintains a criminal calendar on Fridays and tends to be solicitous to counsel’s needs during a long trial.
The Out-Lawyer Blog will probably be silent the week of January 28 – I’m out of town – but there will be a post on Monday February 4, summarizing that entire trial week (the one ending on 2-1).
WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY
Yesterday, the jury heard details about the search of Nina’s van and the Exeter house.
As expected, there was no evidence of blood in the minivan. But everything — from the rotting groceries, the abandoned purse, money, ‘to do list’ and personal effects — screamed a single message:
Something unexpected and drastic has happened to the driver.
It was a scene reminiscent of one of those Pompey tableaus – a snapshot of a life permanently interrupted.
One thing stands out as a sort of signature. Nina’s cellphone was with her personal effects. But the battery was disconnected. It is hard to imagine why Nina would have done that. A sinister implication is almost inescapable: Someone who did not want the van to be discovered right away, someone who knew about how the authorities can trace the ongoing signal transmitted by a dormant cell phone — removed the battery.
Someone too clever by half — that same someone who showed up at the police station later, after evading police surveillance, someone carrying a fanny pack that – when searched – was discovered containing a cell phone with the battery disconnected…
In Reiser’s home
The DA is likely to argue that the cleverest of criminals tends to leave telltale clues, items overlooked. The jury will hear about the forensic DNA tests later, showing a positive match with Nina’s blood, in some cases intriguingly located close to Hans’ blood.
A single mote of blood (thinking of the sleeping bag cover recovered from Hans’ car) might be explained away, but the more blood locations and quantities to explain, the less convincing the putative innocent explanations, and the more probative the sinister ones.
Pending the incoming forensic evidence, we can take note that Nina did not live in the Exeter house and that we therefore might not expect to find any of her blood in any part of that house, in the normal course of events. And we can reasonably infer that the afternoon of September 3, 2006, was not ‘in the normal course of events’.
Suspect blood traces were identified and tested from the following locations in the Exeter house, the one owned by Hans mother and that he shared with her during the pending divorce:
A white comforter,
A throw pillow,
A light switch in the same unfinished basement where the jury was shown photos of cement bags,
The entryway post &
The living room couch.
Also of interest:
In the crawl space under the Exeter house: two pristine shovels and one pick.
In a doorway leading into the house: white powder.
We can be confident that Mom didn’t buy the tools kept under the house, and that Hans chose to secrete them where they would not be spotted. Their unused condition, however, makes the point almost, but not quite moot.
I assume that the mystery white powder was tested. The jury is wondering whether it was cement. So am I…
Here are two questions for the experts:
How long would it take a dead body, stuffed into a large plastic bag, then covered in cement slurry, to set up?
Would the cement and bag be sufficient to suppress the god-awful smell of a decaying corpse?
Assuming, arguendo, that Mr. Reiser used the garage to accomplish this cement treatment, is it not plausible that he would want to wash the driveway carefully, perhaps wearing a long jacket in hot weather to stay as clear as possible?
You can be sure that the hunting jacket described by the neighbor who saw Hans hosing his driveway has been carefully disposed of….