Hans Reiser was found guilty of first degree murder. However, his prosecutor agreed to a plea deal with him of second degree murder after this conviction, on the condition that Reiser reveal the location of his murdered wife's body.

I understand why a prosecutor would accept a plea deal for a lesser crime in place of slogging through a trial for a chance of a conviction on a greater crime, but I do not understand why the prosecutor would want to accept such a plea deal after already having scored the conviction of the greater crime. I find it hard to believe that a state prosecutor would particularly care whether the body could be found or not after the associated conviction and already been scored.

  • I think the reason is pretty clearly stated in the question. I don't know why you would be skeptical of that reason that you articulate. This makes perfect sense to me.
    – ohwilleke
    Mar 8, 2018 at 1:59

2 Answers 2


Settlements and plea deals take place at any time, even after trial, because trials often mark just the beginning of a lengthy and expensive appeals process--which could potentially result in reversal and retrial. In this case, as part of the plea agreement, Reiser could not appeal his conviction or sentence. So that's one of the major reasons for the prosecutor to strike that type of deal, even after going to trial and obtaining a conviction.


I find it very easy to believe that a prosecutor would want to know the location of the body notwithstanding an existing conviction. The prosecutor represents the state an the state stands for, among other things, justice and the protection of its citizens. It is both just and good for the wellbeing of the loved ones of the victims that the body is returned to them and dealt with appropriately.

To this day, countries spend millions of dollars exhuming and identifying their war dead - even for wars a century ago: victims of crime deserve no less

  • You seem to have a pretty optimistic idea of the sensibilities and priorities of a state prosecutor, though for your own sake I hope you never have reason to change it. Nonetheless, I can't accept this answer unless you can add some certain proof that this was the reason in the Reiser case. Mar 9, 2018 at 1:07

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