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A jury in the civil wrongful death trial of convicted wife killer Hans Reiser has awarded his children $60 million in damages for the loss of their mother. Reiser, 48, is serving a term of 15 years to life in state prison for killing his wife, 31-year-old Nina Reiser, on Sept. 3, 2006. His children, 12-year-old Rory and 11-year-old Niorline Reiser, sued him, seeking a total of $25 million for the loss of their mother.
Jurors today instead ordered Reiser to pay each child $25 million, plus $10 million in punitive damages. The children’s attorney, Arturo Gonzalez, has said it is unclear whether Reiser has any assets now, but that he thinks Reiser might be able to come up with valuable ideas while in prison because of his background in the computer industry. Today’s verdict comes after three hours of deliberations over two days.
The four-day trial began with opening statements last Wednesday, with Reiser acting as his own attorney. Reiser argued that he killed his wife to protect his children. He told jurors there had been no physical abuse but that Nina Reiser was harming the children in other ways, including by lying about illnesses they suffered in order to gain custody of them. His children have been living in Russia, where Nina was born and raised, with their grandmother since December 2006.
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