By Dan Levine
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A California jury on Tuesday found a former software developer at the center of a sensational murder trial liable for the 2006 death of his estranged wife and awarded their two children $60 million in damages, court documents show.
Hans Reiser, who created a computer file used in the Linux operating system, was convicted in 2008 of murdering his wife Nina after a high-profile trial despite the fact that neither a body nor a murder weapon was produced for the jury.
Reiser, 48, initially claimed his Russian-born wife was alive and living in Russia.
Two days before a scheduled sentencing hearing, however, Reiser led police to a woodsy part of the Oakland hills, where her body was found wrapped in a black bag.
Nina Reiser's mother filed a civil lawsuit against him on behalf of the two children - Rory, 12, and Niorline, 11.
The jury on Tuesday found Reiser liable for wrongful death. It awarded each child $25 million and ordered Reiser to also pay punitive damages of $10 million.
"Nina was a wonderful person and a great mother," plaintiffs' attorney Arturo González said. "Taking her life has caused immense harm to everyone who knew Nina, especially her children."
Reiser is serving his murder sentence of 15-years to life in prison. He represented himself during the civil trial.
The case in Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda is Rory Reiser and Niorline Reiser, through guardian ad litem Irina Sharanova vs. Hans Reiser, no. RG08406864.
(Reporting By Dan Levine; editing by Dan Whitcomb and Mohammad Zargham)