Posted Jul 17, 2012 07:37 pm CDT
A lawyer working pro bono for two minor children who sued their father for wrongful death damages over his strangulation murder of their mother asked a California jury to award $10 million in compensatory damages to Rory Reiser, 12, and Niorline Reiser, 11.
But after several hours of deliberation over two days the Alameda County panel Tuesday reached a $60 million verdict—$25 million each in compensatory damages, plus $10 million in punitives, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Hans Reiser, a computer programmer who was previously criminally convicted in the 2006 death of his wife, is serving a sentence of 15 years to life for second-degree murder. He contended that he had killed Nina Reiser at home in order to protect the children and compared her to a slave master.
There was no evidence, however, that she had in fact abused their children, and the pro se defendant was repeatedly warned by an exasperated judge that his rambling questions weren’t relevant, the newspaper recounts.
Although it isn’t clear that Reiser, who claims to be indigent, will actually pay any of the $60 million award, jurors said they wanted to be sure any assets or future earnings he may receive will benefit the children.
Attorney Arturo Gonzalez represented the children.