August 07, 2005

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Nancy Kissel case archive part 2

Covers the trial between July 19th and August 5th.

Other Kissel related material can be found in the Kissel category

Update July 19th

* The Standard: Expert testifies hard object deformed metal ornament

The defence counsel for Nancy Kissel yesterday sought to cast doubt over the prosecution theory on the disfigurement of a heavy metal ornament she allegedly used to bludgeon her husband to death, suggesting it may have been the result of "someone striking it with a baseball bat". Alexander King SC asked government forensic scientist Wong Koon-hung whether during his analysis he had observed any impact mark on the heads of the two figurines, or on the bottom of the oval base. Dr Wong said he had not, stressing he was instructed to ascertain only if the figurines and the base were originally in one piece.

The expert witness had suggested earlier to the prosecution that a force could have been exerted on the heads of both figurines - in the shape of two girls facing each other - causing the legs to bend upwards before dislodging from the base. But yesterday he told Mr King that the disfigurement may also have been caused by a substantial force being applied to the base. "The force may have come from the base or the top. What we have is a result of all the force together," Dr Wong said.

The court was shown family photographs that featured the ornament in the background. Mr King argued that the photos revealed the ornament base was originally flat, with the two figurines sitting perpendicular to it. The 3.7kg heirloom exhibited in court appeared different, with its base arching upwards, and the two dislodged figurines, when placed back on the base, sat at an angle away from each other, with their arms by their sides and their legs bent upwards.

"Could that curvature be caused by the base plate being struck by an elongated cylindrical object ... an object such as a baseball bat?" asked Mr King. Examining the disfigured ornament yesterday, Dr Wong agreed that there was a diagonal curvature and some scratch marks on the bottom of the base. He said the counsel's scenario was possible as the contour of the curvature matched a cylindrical object.

"It might not be a single blow of the cylindrical object. It might be multiple blows," the witness said later. Dr Wong asked: "If a force was applied from the bottom onto the underside of the plate and someone was holding the figurines, could that caused the figurines to dislodge?"

The witness replied: "Yes, it could," adding that it would require a "considerable force" and an object harder or as hard as the metal plate to result in such curvature.

Kissel, 41, has pleaded not guilty to a count of murdering her husband - American banker Robert Peter Kissel - on or around November 2, 2003. She fought back tears in the dock yesterday as photos of her children were shown.

Maximina Macaraeg, a domestic helper who gave evidence earlier, said the deceased kept a baseball bat in the master bedroom. However, the prosecution argued that police had never seen the item in the flat. During re-examination, prosecutor Ada Chan asked Dr Wong if the disfigurement of the ornament could be the result of a person using it to hit someone over the head. The witness replied that he would have to know the hardness of the skull before he could answer the question.

"It has to be something substantially hard to leave this kind of impact on the material," he said. Dr Wong said if a painted baseball bat was used to strike the metal base, traces of the paint would have been left behind. But he said he had not tested for this.

Update July 20th


The prosecution in the trial of Nancy Kissel sought to cast doubt yesterday on allegations that the injuries found on her were inflicted by the husband she is accused of bludgeoning to death.

Li Wai-sum, the doctor who examined Kissel after she was sent to Ruttonjee Hospital by police on the morning of November 7, 2003, said the colour of the bruises found on the back of her hands and arms was "brown purplish".

She had told the court on Monday the colour suggested the bruises were the youngest - about one to two days old. Yesterday she said the colour of a bruise, which usually takes at least a week to subside, gradually changed from brownish to yellowish and greenish.

In cross-examination, defence counsel Alexander King SC argued that the colour change could vary from bruise to bruise and was dependent on factors such as blood supply. He asked Dr Li if the brown purplish bruises on the back of Kissel's hands could also be five to six days old.

"According to their size, they could be two to three days old. But five to six days is unlikely," Dr Li said. She also said bruises on Kissel's feet were greenish yellow, suggesting they could be older.

Mr King argued the bruises on Kissel's hands were "classic positions of defence injuries", which occur when a person is hit by a blunt instrument and puts her hands up to protect her head.

But in re-examination, prosecutor Peter Chapman pointed out that the doctor's estimate of the age of the bruises implied they could only have been caused at the earliest on the morning of November 4, 2003 - two days after Robert Peter Kissel, a senior banker with Merrill Lynch, was allegedly killed by his wife in their Parkview bedroom.

Earlier it was revealed Kissel reported to police on November 6 that her husband had assaulted her, causing numerous injuries.

Kissel, 41, has pleaded not guilty to a count of murder.

Dr Li detailed other injuries she found on Kissel, including bruises on her lip, shoulders, knees and feet, rib pain and red, swollen spots on her hands.

Kissel had been suffering from shoulder girdle pain and had a high level of a substance in her blood that was a common sign of injuries to the heart or muscle cells. Mr King asked if the symptoms could be a result of blunt injuries. She said possibly but she was not sure whether they were blunt injuries.

Dr Li later told Mr Chapman the girdle pain could also be caused by "strenuous exercise such as heavy weight-lifting".

Merrill Lynch's regional head of debt markets, Antony Hung Yuk-hung, who was Robert Kissel's superior, later described him as a "straightforward person" and a "good businessman". He told the court the deceased drank wine at social functions like any ordinary businessman but not to an excessive degree. He also said the deceased earned an annual base salary of US$175,000 and a total bonus of US$5.9 million over the three years he was at Merrill Lynch.

He said that on November 12, when police visited the office, officers seized from the deceased's drawers items including alleged love letters from Kissel's boyfriend in Vermont, a surveillance report and a video tape from American detective agency Alpha Group.

Mr Hung told Mr King the deceased's office had not been cordoned off or guarded by the police on November 7, 2003.

Update July 21st


Nancy Kissel's computer notebook was used to browse Hong Kong Police Force's websites on missing and wanted persons some four days after she allegedly murdered her husband, a computer forensics expert told a court yesterday.

Cheung Chun-kit, of the police technology crime division, said nine temporary internet files found on the defendant's Sony Vaio notebook indicated that a number of police webpages had been browsed between November 5 and November 6, 2003. These included webpages featuring "Wanted Persons", "Missing Persons", and telephone numbers of police report rooms.

Mr Cheung told the Court of First Instance his finding on the accessing of police websites was supported by a spyware activity report sent to the e-mail account of the deceased, Robert Peter Kissel, around November 6, 2003. The prosecution alleges Kissel, 41, bludgeoned her husband to death at the flat on or about November 2, 2003.

The officer said e-mails received by the deceased indicated that he had installed spyware program eBlaster on the Sony notebook and one of two desktop computers used by their three children. It allowed him to receive by e-mail "activity reports" which recorded the keystrokes typed, e-mails read and sent and websites accessed.

The defendant, who reported to Aberdeen Police Station on November 6, 2003 that her husband, a banker for Merrill Lynch, had assaulted her and left home, has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Other activity reports sent to the deceased after his death showed someone using the accused's e-mail account had e-mailed a friend on November 5 saying that she could not attend a birthday party the following day because a family member was ill. The officer said an e-mail sent to a friend of the accused using the account on November 6 said: "Unfortunately, Rob is away for business."

Mr Cheung said only two user names were found on the notebook - "Kissel" and "Reis", the latter the name of the defendant's son.

Mr Cheung said spyware reports showed the notebook had been used on August 20, 2003, to access websites on medications, including

The witness said the report also showed Internet Explorer entries of the words "sleeping pills", "overdose", "medication causing heart attack", and "drug overdose" - possibly entries to a search engine.

Prosecutor Peter Chapman also asked Mr Cheung to identify an eBlaster report dated August 21, 2003, which indicated a Microsoft Word entry on the Sony notebook that said: "I am not quite sure how he feels about me ... after hiring a private investigating firm to follow me ... Are they going to be watching me forever? Hidden camera in the bedroom, tapped phone ... I realised what the affair had done to him ... trustwise."

The court has heard the accused began an affair with TV repairman Michael del Priore while in the US state of Vermont in 2003.

Update July 22nd


Nancy Kissel's husband had searched a large number of websites on gay pornography and sex services in Taiwan shortly before he went on a three-day trip there, her defence counsel alleged yesterday.

The allegation by Alexander King SC came as he presented to the Court of First Instance the internet use history between April 3 and April 5, 2003, of a desktop computer seized by the police from the defendant's Parkview flat.

The court heard the defence team, using software for analysis of internet history, had found search engine entries such as "anal", "cocks", "gay anal sex", "bisexual" and "male ass". Some had been made several times over the three days, at a time Mr King said only Robert Peter Kissel, who Nancy Kissel is accused of murdering, would have had access to the computer.

Mr King, who presented the records with the help of computer experts, said the evidence was retrieved after the prosecution gave the defence a copy of the hard disk in January to examine.

The findings, displayed on television and computer screens in court yesterday, also indicated numerous searches on sex websites in Taiwan, such as "gay sex or anal sex in Taiwan", "Taiwan female escorts" and "Taiwan companions".

Mr King told the jury there were also search entries for "married and lonely in HK" and an entry for "wife is a bitch", "looking for girls in Hong Kong" and "Mpeg sex".

Kissel, 41, is accused of bludgeoning her investment banker husband to death on or around November 2, 2003, in their Parkview flat. Kissel, who reported to police that her husband assaulted her, has pleaded not guilty to murder.

The desktop computer, allegedly used by the Kissel children, was one of four computers officers seized from the flat. The other three were another Dell desktop, the deceased's IBM notebook and the defendant's Sony Vaio notebook.

Mr King pointed out that Kissel left for the US on March 29 and returned on July 30, 2003, to escape Sars. Immigration records showed the deceased returned from a trip on March 12 before he left for Taiwan on April 8 and returned again three days later. Mr King argued that between April 3 and 5, the only person who could have had access to the computer was the deceased.

Referring to about three pages that listed the search entries, Mr King asked police computer forensic expert Cheung Chun-kit: "Do nearly all these sites appear to you to be gay pornography websites?" He said: "Seems so by looking at the names of the websites."

Prosecutor Peter Chapman told the jury Mr Cheung's evidence also suggested the Sony notebook had been used to browse websites on Rohypnol, known as a date-rape drug, on October 23, 2003.

One of the websites explained that a person who drank a beverage containing the drug would not be able to detect it. The court has heard that the drug was prescribed to Kissel and that it was found in her husband's stomach.

Update July 25th


Allegations on Robert Peter Kissel's sexual interests - including a taste for black gay men, Taiwanese actresses and French masseurs - continued to be put before the court yesterday by the defence on day two of cross-examination of a computer forensic expert.

Alexander King, SC, displayed more porn websites searched for or browsed between April 3 and 5, 2003, on a Dell desktop computer seized in the Kissels' Parkview flat.

Using software to trace internet use, the defence team found the user of the computer had, on April 5, visited websites advertising services for female and bisexual escorts in Perth, Western Australia, and a photo gallery under the header "Male Cock Gay Sex Gay Men". Numerous searches for sites on black gay men also were identified.

Mr King argued on Thursday that only Robert Kissel, a Merrill Lynch banker allegedly killed by his wife Nancy in their flat on November 2, 2003, could have used the computer as immigration records showed the accused and her three children were in the US.

Nancy Kissel, 41, has pleaded not guilty to a count of murder.

The defence also retrieved evidence from the deceased's IBM notebook computer, that showed it had been used many times in May and June 2003 to browse or search for websites on "twinks", "actresses for hire in Taiwan", "escorts in Taiwan", "Paris girl for hire", "Paris gay massage", "Paris x-rated escorts", "gay sex" and "anal sex".

In one instance, the user was found to be accessing the Merrill Lynch network while searching for the porn sites.

Police computer expert Cheung Chun-kit said yesterday he believed that in January 2003 the deceased had installed spyware on the desktop computer and the Sony Vaio notebook computer used by the defendant and that by early October it was possible he had examined about 7,000 of his wife's emails.

Mr King read out an entry in the defendant's notebook computer captured by an activity report dated October 7, 2003: "You are still justifying your harsh action in the car with the kids by blaming it on me. You see Rob, at the end of the day it seems that I am the only one making the effort. I have shown you in many ways how I have been trying. But because of that fight and how uncontrollable you got in the car ... How you are always telling me we won't fight in front of the kids ... A fight and you give out an ultimatum ... I still can't believe it ... Is it how life is going to be? Who should be going to therapy? Whatever happens ... to us? You never use those words anymore ever."

Asked by Mr King to verify the defence findings on porn websites, Mr Cheung admitted he had not searched for materials related to "" or "gay sex" when examining the computers.

When asked why computer activity reports dated March to June, 2003 could not be retrieved Mr Cheung said he did not remember.

Update July 26th


A government toxicologist told the Court of First Instance yesterday he had never before encountered the combination of drugs found in the stomach and liver of Robert Peter Kissel, the American banker allegedly poisoned and then bludgeoned to death by his wife.

Cheng Kok-choi, who testified as a prosecution witness, said he had identified four hypnotics in Kissel's stomach - flunitazepam (Rohypnol), lorazepam (Lorivan), zolpidem (Ambien) and butalbital (Axotal). He also found an anti-depressant, amitriptyline, and salicylic acid, which he said could be a product of the chemical breakdown of aspirin.

In the liver, Dr Cheng identified amitriptyline and Axotal.

Dr Cheng said amitriptyline, Rohypnol (known as a date-rape drug), Lorivan and Ambien were all controlled substances and available only with a prescription. Axotal was not registered in Hong Kong.

Dr Cheng, who has worked for the government laboratory for more than 30 years, was asked by prosecutor Peter Chapman if he had come across these drugs in other cases. "Individually, yes, but not as a combination ... not even in suicide cases involving use of multiple drugs," he said.

The prosecution alleges that Nancy Kissel, 41, beat her husband to death with a metal ornament after serving him a strawberry milkshake laced with "a cocktail of sedatives" in their flat in Parkview, Tai Tam, on or around November 2, 2003. She has pleaded not guilty. Robert Kissel's body was found five days later, wrapped in an old carpet in a storeroom on the estate.

The prosecutor said medical records showed that Nancy Kissel was prescribed Rohypnol by a clinic in Central on October 23, 2003. Earlier evidence indicated that another clinic prescribed her Ambien, amitriptyline and Lorivan in August 2003 and October 2003.

The prosecutor also sought yesterday to cast doubts on evidence the defence team alleges showed that Robert Kissel had accessed pornography websites using his own IBM notebook and his daughter's desktop computer. He pointed out that a large number of the websites were paid sites, and the webpages rebuilt on the screen last week appeared to be only homepages, which do not require a paid subscription.

Mr Chapman asked a police forensic computer expert, Cheung Chun-kit: "There is nothing to suggest ... paid entry or membership to those sites?" The witness replied: "That's correct".

The prosecutor also argued that webpages showing words such as "huge cocks big dicks nude boys" could be thrown up on a Google search on subjects "without any gay content at all". But Alexander King SC, for the defence, said it was ridiculous to think the porn sites would be thrown up after typing in words such as "Hong Kong International School or Barbie Dolls".

Update July 27th


A government chemist yesterday told a jury he did not report on the quantities of drugs found in Robert Peter Kissel, who was allegedly murdered by his wife, because it would have been misleading.

Cheng Kok-choi, who identified four hypnotics and an anti-depressant in the senior Merrill Lynch banker's stomach and liver, was asked by prosecutor Peter Chapman to respond to a series of criticisms of his findings by Olaf Drummer, a forensic expert from Australia called by the defence.

Responding to criticism that the amount had not been quantified, Dr Cheng explained that the banker's body had already started to decompose when it was found on November 7, 2003, five days after he was allegedly bludgeoned to death after being served a sedatives-laced milkshake by his wife, Nancy.

"It is a well-known fact in the case that the [quantitative] results would not be reliable and can even be misleading," said the prosecution witness. He said such results would only be sought on special request from the government laboratory or in cases of drug overdose. He said he had only been sent 20 millilitres of stomach contents - rather than a whole stomach, which would have been needed for the quantification.

The drugs found were Rohypnol, Lorivan, Ambien, Axotal and amitriptyline.

Mr Justice Michael Lunn asked the witness if the amount of drugs found corresponded to "a tiny fraction of a normal dose". The witness said yes.

Nancy Kissel, 41, has pleaded not guilty to a count of murder.

Professor Drummer also said in his written report that traces of drugs found in the deceased's stomach did not necessarily mean they were consumed orally.

He said they could have been caused by a contamination of stomach contents by bile or vomiting. Responding to this, Dr Cheng said: "This statement is true. I did additional tests and concluded that these [possibilities] cannot be excluded."

The Australian expert detected one of the hypnotics, Ambien, from his test on the deceased's hair sample and concluded that Kissel had been taking Ambien for two to three months before his death.

Agreeing with Professor Drummer's conclusion, Dr Cheng told defence counsel Alexander King SC that the deceased seemed to be using the drug habitually.

But the witness said he did not agree with the professor's suggestion that the drugs had been in Kissel's stomach much longer than usual, saying there was no basis to say there was an abnormality.

In cross-examination, Mr King said that in the chemist's written reply to Professor Drummer in June, there was "a large measure of agreement" between the experts.

The judge asked the witness if he detected any presence of cocaine in his screening test for other drugs and poisons. Dr Cheng replied: "Unless you have taken an overdose of cocaine, you cannot detect it in the liver." He explained that cocaine would be hydrolysed in the stomach because of the acidic nature of the gastric juice.

Asked by Mr King if any hydrolysed product of cocaine was found in the stomach sample, the witness said no. But he said there was no universal screening procedure that could "detect everything under the sun".

Update July 28th


A high tolerance for drugs could explain why Robert Peter Kissel appeared to behave normally an hour after being served milkshake allegedly laced with sedatives by his wife, by which time a neighbour who also drank it had passed out, the Court of First Instance heard.

Alexander King SC, representing Nancy Kissel, suggested during cross-examination of pharmacologist John Yeung Hok-keung that the deceased could have developed resistance to certain drugs after taking them regularly, so that "a higher dosage was necessary to achieve the [same] effect". But the witness said he was not in a position to comment on repeated drug use.

Government chemist Cheng Kok-choi said on Monday that he found a cocktail of drugs - the hypnotics Rohypnol, Lorivan, Ambien and Axotal, and amitriptyline, an antidepressant - in samples taken from the deceased's stomach and liver.

Mr King asked the witness if he agreed that using cocaine would increase productivity at work and in other areas of life. The lawyer said the long-term effects of taking the drug included addiction, paranoia and dangerous lifestyle choices.

"Do many cocaine addicts develop a tolerance to the drug?" he asked.

"I can't comment," said Professor Yeung.

The court also heard from a neighbour who was served the milkshake, Andrew Tanzer. Mr Tanzer said he took his daughter to the Kissels' flat in Parkview, Tai Tam, on November 2, 2003.

He said he and the deceased were served a milkshake prepared by the accused using what she described as her "secret recipe".

Kissel, 41, denies the murder of her husband, a senior Merrill Lynch banker, that day. Prosecutors say she bludgeoned him to death with a metal ornament. His body was found five days later.

Recalling evidence given by Kazuko Ouchi, Mr Tanzer's wife, Mr King put it to Professor Yeung that Mr Tanzer had returned home complaining of tiredness and fell asleep on the couch within half an hour of drinking the shake. His wife slapped him in an attempt to wake him up, the counsel said. Yet closed-circuit TV cameras had captured the deceased awake and walking between his flat and the playground in Parkview around 5.15pm, said Mr King.

Professor Yeung said that most of the drugs identified in the deceased's body were fast-acting and their effects were in line with the strange behaviour of Mr Tanzer.

The prosecution replayed a tape-recording of the evidence given last month by David Noh, a friend of the deceased. Mr Noh, who talked to the deceased on the phone for about 10 minutes around 5pm on November 2, 2003, said he had complained of fatigue and was talking "on a different tangent".

Prosecutor Peter Chapman asked Professor Yeung if the nature of the phone conversation surprised him. "Assuming that he was under the effect of the drugs, that wouldn't surprise me," he said.

Update July 29th


The squashed skull of Robert Peter Kissel had five potentially fatal fractures and five non-fatal lacerations, a court trying his wife for his murder heard yesterday.

Forensic pathologist Lau Ming-fai said the upper right side of the wealthy investment banker's head was "severely squashed" and the bone had been pushed into the white matter inside the brain.

He told the Court of First Instance he identified five lacerations on the head with depressed skull fractures beneath, and suggested each had been caused by a single blow. "Each of these blows was potentially fatal, the combination was severely fatal," he said, adding there were another five non-fatal lacerations on the head.

Dr Lau said the edge of the base plate of the heavy ornament with which Nancy Kissel is alleged to have bludgeoned her husband to death was consistent with the curvature of the lacerations. Holding two detached figurines to the metal plate with his hands, he demonstrated how the deceased could have been struck by the ornament. Dr Lau said there were no self-defence injuries on the upper limbs of the victim.

He suggested the deceased had been lying down with his face turned to one side and "had little or no ability to move or defend himself at the time of the attack". This was in line with the government laboratory's findings of four hypnotic drugs and an anti-depressant in the deceased's stomach and liver, which Dr Lau said had caused "a certain degree of impairment to his consciousness".

In cross-examination, defence counsel Alexander King SC asked Dr Lau whether a reason for the lack of defensive injuries on Kissel's upper limbs could be that he himself was in possession of a weapon. The counsel also asked him if the metal ornament allegedly used for inflicting injuries could also be used for defending oneself from an attack by a weapon. The witness agreed.

But in re-examination, prosecutor Peter Chapman portrayed a scenario in which the deceased was standing, raising a baseball bat, "ready to strike" when the accused was holding the ornament as a shield. "The female would not be in a position to inflict injuries while defending herself, would she?" he asked.

Dr Lau agreed with the prosecutor. "Because when she's holding the ornament, she would not be able to inflict any blows on the other party," he said. The defence had earlier suggested that the base plate of the alleged murder weapon - from which the two figurines were dislodged - had curved up after it was struck by a long object, such as a baseball bat.

Also yesterday a maid who worked for the Kissels at their luxury Parkview flat said she could not be sure if a baseball bat shown in court was the same as one she had seen in the couple's bedroom. The bat was shown to prosecution witness Maximina Macaraeg by Mr King, who asked her if she remembered being asked during testimony last month whether the deceased was a baseball fan.

Also on that occasion she told the jury she had seen a wooden baseball bat placed between two pieces of furniture in the master bedroom and sometimes had to lift it up when vacuuming. Mr King then asked for a bat to be presented to Ms Macaraeg. "Is that the bat you saw in the bedroom?" he asked. She replied: "I am not sure."

"Did you ever see any other baseball bat in the Kissel apartment?" he asked. She said no. Mr Chapman asked the witness if she could see the bottom of the bat with the words "Little League". She said yes.

Update July 30th


The Sars outbreak and her husband Robert's success as a top Merrill Lynch banker had ruined what appeared to outsiders to be "the best marriage in the universe", Nancy Kissel told her best friend, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.

Prosecutor Polly Wan read out an e-mail sent by Kissel on August 17, 2003, to Bryna O'Shea, who she had met in New York in 1987.

"It's mostly been me ... so fxxking perceptive ... I had a pretty shitty summer ... especially when everyone is thinking we have the best marriage in the universe," Kissel wrote to the woman who had become her best friend.

"I agree to a certain extent about the great marriage part. But during those five years, with Rob's continued success ... it's taken its toll. To be hit with the Sars shit, and the separation and all unresolved crap just kept piling up. We've both acknowledged this for some time and have agreed to see a counsellor."

The court heard Nancy took the three children to Vermont in the United States to flee Sars between March and July 2003, while Robert stayed in the city for work.

Nancy Kissel, 41, is accused of murdering her husband in their Parkview flat on November 2, 2003. She has pleaded not guilty.

Ms O'Shea, whose testimony, given in the US in May, was read to the jury yesterday, said the e-mail was the most Kissel had opened up to her for a long time. She had noticed Kissel had become harder to talk to and had stopped talking about her husband since late 2002. During the Sars period, she described Kissel as tense and upset.

Ms O'Shea, a San Franciscan, said the deceased had phoned her about April 2003 and asked her to be his confidante in their marital matters. After that, he sometimes phoned or e-mailed daily.

One night in June, Ms O'Shea said he called, crying. He told her he had called his daughter in Vermont and she told him that Mike del Priore - Nancy's alleged lover - "has come with his daughter and we were all watching television together". He told Ms O'Shea: "That should not be Mike there with my children. That should be me."

Mr Kissel phoned Ms O'Shea one night in September and told her his wife had said she did not want to be with him any more during a marriage therapy session. The deceased sounded "very, very upset". But later that month, he told her his wife went to his office one day, something she had not done for ages. "She pushed everything off his desk, sat on his desk and said: `I am sorry, I didn't mean anything I said. I don't want to get a divorce. I love you'."

Asked by Alexander King SC, for the defence, about a history of domestic violence, Ms O'Shea said she could only remember once when Kissel told her the deceased had pushed her up against a wall.

In October, the deceased told her he found the accused had another mobile phone, allegedly used to call her lover. He wrote in his e-mail: "I can't wait to have a really big cry," Ms O'Shea said.

She only recalled after attending the deceased's funeral in Connecticut that he had told her his wife had accessed some "dark websites" on drugs. "Rob asked me: `Do you think she's trying to kill me?' I laughed and said: `If she's trying to kill you, put me in your will.' He laughed and said: `If anything happens to me, make sure my children are taken care of'," she said.

Ms O'Shea, who said she learnt of Robert's intention to discuss divorce with Nancy on November 2, said Nancy told her later they had fought and Robert had left. Nancy said she had two broken ribs.

The witness said she became concerned after failing to get hold of the deceased despite repeated phone calls and e-mails. She later contacted a colleague of the deceased, David Noh, who reported Robert Kissel missing to police on November 6, 2003.

Update August 3rd

* ESWN: Nancy Kissel trial part 35.

Nancy Kissel had to endure night after night of sexual and physical assault from her husband as cocaine, whisky, power and money changed him, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.

The 41-year-old, giving evidence on the first day of the defence case, said in tears that Robert Peter Kissel, a top Merrill Lynch banker, had developed a routine of "going home, drinking and sex" after she had their youngest child, Reis, in 1999.

Kissel said the first time Robert hit her was when he realised the expected birth date of Reis would overlap with an important business trip to Korea. He had told her to try to induce labour and was angry she was not listening to him. "The first time he punched at me, he hit the wall because I dodged. When it happened again [for] the same argument the following week, he hit me [on] my face," she said.

Kissel said the first punch was so hard it broke through the cement and plaster of the wall. She knew the deceased had broken his hand the next day when he came home with a cast on his hand.

Alexander King SC, for the defence, asked if she recalled evidence from Dr Daniel Wu of Adventist Hospital, who told the court he had treated the deceased's "boxer's fracture" on his right little finger around August 1999. "It was that night," she replied.

Kissel is accused of bludgeoning her husband to death in their Parkview flat on November 2, 2003, after giving him a sedative-laced milk- shake. She has pleaded not guilty to a count of murder.

Kissel, from the American state of Minnesota, married her husband in 1989. They lived in New York, where she took several jobs in restaurants to finance Robert's master's degree studies in finance at New York University.

Kissel said she knew her husband was dependent on cocaine for his work and studies when they got married, as she had seen a Manhattan dealer at their flat several times to trade the drug. "I watched him use it ... I was working for three jobs to pay for his tuition, not drugs. There was nothing I could do about it," she said, adding that he would turn trivial matters such as not having enough orange juice in the fridge into a huge argument.

Her husband's cocaine consumption continued as he climbed the ladder in the banking world on arrival in Hong Kong in 1997. Kissel said he had to watch the stock markets at "opposite ends of the globe".

"When the Hong Kong market closed, the New York market opened ... [It is] literally 24 hours of having to be awake," she said. "The drugs got him rougher with kids. He became a different person."

She said that once he passed out for about 20 minutes on a plane because of the combined effects of drugs, alcohol and jet lag. He had become increasingly dependent on painkillers and sleeping pills because of work pressures and back pain and drank glasses of scotch daily before and after dinner.

Kissel said that after Reis was born, her husband became much more forceful with her during sex. "It was predominantly oral sex for him and anal sex," she said.

Asked by Mr King to describe how that would come about, Kissel said she would find her husband sitting at the end of their bed with the television on whenever he was home at night. He would not let her walk past him to her side of the bed. "He would start those games ... having me between his legs, toying with me. He would say those things to me so he could do anything he wanted," she said. "He was just so angry ... It was like I wasn't even there ... He never had a look at my face."

"Were you agreeable to that?" asked Mr King. "No," Kissel replied. She said she often had bruises and bleeding from the anal sex forced upon her.

Kissel told of two occasions when her ribs were fractured after Robert tried to twist and flip her over on the bed for anal sex. When it happened the first time in 2001, she sought treatment at Adventist Hospital and was given a Velcro brace to wear around her stomach. "A couple of weeks later, he ripped the brace off and I ended up getting into hospital again," she said.

Asked about how he treated his work, she said: "He thrived on it, it was what made him tick, the business, the power of it all ... when you rise from that structure, from down below - he was very successful.

Update August 4th

* ESWN: Nancy Kissel part 36

Nancy Kissel attempted suicide and succumbed to an affair with a TV repairman in Vermont to escape physical and mental torture by her husband, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.

Kissel, 41, said she attempted suicide the night before her husband, Robert Peter Kissel, who she is accused of murdering, flew from Hong Kong to join her and their three children at their US holiday home in Vermont to escape Sars in May 2003.

After the children and maid fell asleep, she went to the garage and sat in her car after turning on the engine. "I cried a lot. Maybe I got scared of leaving my children. So I turned off the engine and went back into the house," she said.

She told the jury she searched the internet for information on "sleeping pills", "drug overdose" and "medication causing heart attack" in August 2003 because she was contemplating suicide.

One of the triggers was that during their trip to New York that month, her husband had forbidden her from picking up their eldest daughter, Elaine, from a camp in Maine. She was told to return to Hong Kong first, while the deceased and his father, William Kissel, would pick up the daughter.

Kissel said her interest in drugs causing heart attack stemmed from her intention to protect her children. "I thought if I am going to do something like this, taking pills, I wouldn't want my children to be affected - going through the knowledge of their mother committing suicide," she said.

Kissel is accused of killing her husband, a senior Merrill Lynch banker, after serving him a sedatives-laced milkshake in their Parkview flat on November 2, 2003. She has pleaded not guilty to one count of murder.

On day two of her evidence, Kissel recalled occasions when she was hit or sexually abused by her husband. On a Christmas skiing trip in Whistler, Canada, in 2002, she said she fell down a flight of stairs after being hit by Robert after an argument. She also told of how Robert forced her to have oral and anal sex with her in their flat.

Kissel admitted having an affair with Michael Del Priore, who fixed a stereo and TV system in her Vermont house during her stay there in 2003. She recalled he told her over a dinner that June how his mother had been abused by his alcoholic father and how difficult it was for him to deal with his childhood. He had said to Kissel: "This summer when I saw you, you looked like s***, tired and beat-up."

"Something he said to me was I had that same look his mother did," she said. "I broke down and cried. It was the first time anybody ever stepped forward in front of me on an issue that would normally scare a lot of people. There are people who would look at you, notice the ... change, but they don't really want to know.

"In Hong Kong, in the expat world, we would run into people who are more interested in what you are wearing, how big your diamond ring is, your car."

She said Mr Del Priore was a comfort to her, for the stress and loneliness she felt after she and her children were turned away by US hotels, clinics and schools for fear they were carrying Sars.

Kissel also admitted having sex about three times with Mr Del Priore when their relationship turned intimate that summer.

"Had you formed an intention to leave your husband?" asked Alexander King SC, for the defence. "No," she said. "There was no question in my mind that I was Mrs Kissel. I have been for 15 years. I am a banker's wife... I worked hard in Hong Kong. It's very much my choice ... to work through things in my marriage however they played out." She described Vermont, of which "Michael was part", as an escape from the "real world" in Hong Kong and from her marriage.

She said the pair had frequent phone conversations and letter exchanges and that Robert had found the letters, which she hid in their Parkview bedroom, during one of his regular ransackings of the room and ripped them apart in her face.

Asked to identify copies of the letters seized by the police from the deceased's office, Kissel said: "They are not in their original form." She said the parts of the letters where they discussed Robert's abuse of her were not there.

Kissel, who told the court her husband was using cocaine, painkillers and whisky, said she became worried when she realised his violence had spilled over to the children. She said he once got angry with Elaine for not eating vegetables in Vermont. He printed her photos of malnourished people - which she hated - grabbed her, kept shaking her and jumped on her. "She said, `Daddy, you are hurting me.' But he just kept shaking," Kissel said in tears.

She put sleeping pills in Robert's bottle of whisky in an attempt to calm her husband down, she said, but it had no effect on him.

She told the jury how Robert was controlling different aspects of her life. He told her to stop calling her father in the US - she called him every day - and to stop doing volunteer work for her daughters' school. He also took away the children's passports. He was furious when he discovered she had returned from Vermont with a tattoo on her shoulder, reminding her that she was a banker's wife.

The case continues before Mr Justice Michael Lunn today.

posted by Simon on 08.07.05 at 09:18 AM in the Kissel category.


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