It's looking like there could be a deal in the works in which Hans Reiser, the Linux programmer convicted in April of murdering his estranged wife, would lead authorities to her body in exchange for a reduced sentence. That's according a Wired report confirmed in part Friday by the prosecutor in the case, Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff.
"The defense has made overtures" to that effect, Orloff told CNET News.com Friday, declining to comment further because "it's still very preliminary."
In April, following a drama-filled six-month trial, a jury found Reiser, 44, guilty of first-degree murder in the 2006 killing of Nina Reiser, with whom he was undergoing a bitter divorce. Reiser is currently behind held without bail pending his sentencing scheduled for July 9.
Reiser is known to the technology world as the founder of the ReiserFS file system software, which is available for Linux. Nina Reiser, then 31, was last seen alive on September 3, 2006, in Oakland, Calif., as she was dropping off the couple's two children for the Labor Day weekend. Despite exhaustive searches by authorities, Nina's body has never been found.
Throughout the trial, Reiser maintained his innocence. Arguing the so-called "geek defense," his attorney maintained that while Reiser may be strange, arrogant, even abnormal, his odd behavior following Nina's disappearance wasn't evidence of murder.
A completely different story may unfold, however, if the potential deal in the works comes to fruition. Wired writer David Kravets quotes an anonymous source familiar with the deal who says Reiser's cooperation could reduce his April conviction from first-degree murder to second degree. A second-degree conviction in California carries a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life, Kravets wrote.
And the deal "would be off if an autopsy of the body somehow demonstrated that it was first-degree, premeditated murder with, for example, 'two bullet holes to the back of the head,'" Kravets wrote, quoting the source.