September 01, 2006
Kissel kids sue

The 3 Kissel children have filed legal actions against Nancy Kissel. Articles below the jump.

SCMP: Kissel children sue mother over murder

Nancy Kissel's three children have filed a claim against her for the wrongful death of their father, almost one year from the day she was sentenced to life for his murder. Another writ was also lodged in the High Court on Wednesday by the family lawyer on behalf of Robert Kissel's estate.

The Kissel trial was one of Hong Kong's most sensational, featuring accusations by Nancy that Robert, a high-flying Merrill Lynch banker, was a frequent cocaine and alcohol user who subjected her to regular beatings. She was accused of drugging her husband with a "milkshake" of sedatives before slamming him over the head with an ornament in November 2003. While admitting to the crime, she claimed she was only acting in self-defence. The prosecution alleged Kissel wanted to remove her husband so she could run away with her TV repairman lover, Michael Del Priore.

Kissel has apparently been working with her lawyers on her appeal against the sentence, which is due later this year. Her lawyers did not return calls to confirm how close the appeal was from court.

Kissel's friends say she is putting on a brave face in the wake of the latest twist in the saga. A friend of Nancy's, who also knew Robert, said she felt strongly that her trial was a "travesty of justice". A friend said she felt the press coverage of her trial was "badly biased" towards the opinions of her husband's father, William. "She feels that in the April 2006 death of Robert's older brother Andrew, there are clues to the true character of her late husband," the friend said. "She suggests this is not a story of a bad brother and a good brother ... but an evil brother and a slightly less evil younger one."

Andrew, 46, was found dead in the basement of his home two days before he was due to appear in a US court to plead guilty to a multimillion-dollar embezzlement.

According to Robert Kissel's high school sweetheart, Carol Horton, his sister Jane Clayton and her husband recently bought a bigger house to accommodate their enlarged family, which now includes the Kissel children, whom they were granted custody of last year. But Mrs Clayton has no access to her brother's estate, she said.

"The kids are doing really well. They have settled in and made lots of friends in their new schools. The eldest daughter, Elaine, has taken up a job as a babysitter on the weekends. They are all involved in after-school activities, sports and dance," Mrs Horton said.

Kissel family patriarch William, who lives in Florida, visited his daughter in Seattle often, Mrs Horton said, but was still having a hard time coping with the loss of both his sons. A former colleague of Robert Kissel hopes the writs never make it to court "for the children's sake".

"They are going to want to put this behind them as much as they possibly can," he said.

SCMP: Legal action taken to beat deadline

The two writs lodged yesterday were not supposed to be acted on straight away, according to a partner at law firm Haldanes. Rather, they were aimed at staving off a looming deadline for the commencement of legal action, said David Hoare, solicitor for the family of Robert Kissel.

Under Hong Kong law, civil proceedings must be launched within three years of a person's death. "Basically these are protection writs," Mr Hoare said, adding they allowed parties to sue later.

"My instructions are not to progress the claims any further at this stage while [Nancy Kissel's] appeals are yet to be finalised." The writ on behalf of the children, Elaine, Hannah and Reis, was filed by their aunt Jane Kissel Clayton and seeks damages under the Fatal Accidents Ordinance. That law allows the dependants of a dead person to sue the person responsible for their death.

The second writ was filed under Robert Kissel's name because an executor has yet to be appointed to his estate in Hong Kong.

That writ was filed in order to preserve the claim over the late banker's estate, thought to be worth many millions.

The Standard: Kissel kids in damages lawsuit

Nancy Kissel is back in the news, with three of her children suing her for damages through their aunt, Jane Clayton, the sister of murdered banker Robert Kissel. Nancy Kissel is serving a life sentence for the murder of her husband in 2003. Last year her trial gripped Hong Kong for months and commanded strong media attention with its lurid details of drugs, sex, bizarre behavior and brutality. The verdict was delivered, and Kissel sentenced, in September.

This week's civil lawsuit was filed in the High Court Wednesday and made available to the public Thursday.

Through Clayton, Nancy and Robert Kissel's five-year-old son Reis and their two daughters, eight-year-old June and 11-year-old Elaine, are seeking damages under the Fatal Accidents Ordinance.

Under that law, if death is caused by a wrongful act, "an action for damages may be brought for the benefit of the dependents of the deceased against the person who would have been liable" - that is, their mother Nancy Kissel.

A second lawsuit, also filed Wednesday, seeks damages against Kissel on behalf of her murdered husband.

On November 3, 2003, Kissel served her husband a sedative-laced milkshake before bludgeoning him to death and wrapping his body in a carpet to hide in a storage room.

Kissel, who is serving her sentence at the Tai Lam Center for Women in the New Territories, has 14 days to contest the claim.

According to the writ, Jane Clayton lives in Washington state in the United States.

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April 07, 2006
The Kissel murders and the profit motive

Second case of murder adds twist to a book, reports the NYT. The full article is below the jump. It details the story of Joe McGinniss, an author writing a book on the Kissel murder in Hong Kong and the change in plot due to the terrible events around Andrew Kissel. It is macarbe when the author's first response is: Oh, I need to recast my book to elevate a previously minor character into a key one, because he now dies too. His publisher is almost jumping out his skin with excitement:

"It opens up a whole facet to the story that has to be reported out and that will be complicated," said David Rosenthal, publisher and executive vice president of Simon & Schuster. "It is turning into a true American saga of murder, money and milkshakes."
What the hell is that meant to mean? I think I know: there's money to be made in these here tragic events. In that sense, it very much is a true American saga.

Joe McGinniss was just grinding away on your average true-crime story: a book about a high-powered American financier in Hong Kong named Robert Kissel, who drank a sedative-laced strawberry milkshake and was bludgeoned to death by his wife. Then his body was wrapped in a piece of carpet that a workman took to a basement storage room.

But the plot thickened with additional blood this week when Mr. Kissel's brother, Andrew M. Kissel, a disgraced money manager on his way to prison, was found dead of multiple stab wounds in the basement of a rented house in Greenwich, Conn., his hands and feet bound.

Now Mr. McGinnis, 63, a journalist who has written 10 books, many of them best sellers, hardly knows which way to look.

"It became a very different story," he said by phone from Amherst, Mass., where he currently lives. "A brother who had been a very minor character in my book now meets the same fate. Clearly, this gives it a dimension beyond the average family tragedy."

There is nothing average about the Kissel family. Robert's wife, Nancy Ann Kissel, fell in love with a television repairman who lived in a trailer near their vacation home in Stratton, Vt., according to testimony at her trial, which ended in her conviction. Evidence showed that in 2003 she slowly and methodically gathered various sedatives over the course of weeks, and then mixed them into a confection that was unknowingly served to her husband by their daughter. The couple's three children became practical orphans after their mother was jailed and Andrew and his wife, Hayley Wolff Kissel, formerly a high-profile analyst on Wall Street, were awarded temporary custody of the children, who had inherited millions of dollars.

But then Andrew was charged with a series of financial improprieties, and his business empire imploded. The two men's sister, Jane Kissel Clayton, who is married and lives near Seattle, stepped in and after a long battle, gained custody, removing the children from the home where Andrew was eventually killed.

"These are highly educated people from the absolute top of society, and yet two brothers are murdered within three years of each other," Mr. McGinniss said. "It is hard to fathom."

But fathom he will try. Mr. McGinniss was unhappily toiling on a book for Simon & Schuster about an around-the-world, 101-day cruise he took in early 2005, but he was bored stiff by life among and riding on the swells.

Then, last spring he saw an article about the so-called "milkshake murder" and was taken by its lurid back story. Nancy Ann Kissel admitted that she had killed her husband by beating him with a lead ornament but said that she had done so in self-defense after years of being coerced into anal sex by a husband she said regularly abused whiskey and cocaine. William Kissel, the father of the two murdered men, agreed to cooperate with the book, in part to clear Robert's name, according to Mr. McGinniss. But last Tuesday he sent the author a one-line e-mail message.

"Andrew is dead," it read.

Mr. McGinnis initially thought that Andrew Kissel had killed himself rather than confront years of incarceration, but he found out differently as the day wore on. And a story that already had its share of twists and turns was lifted into yet another realm altogether. Mr. McGinniss has been swarmed with requests for television interviews, and his publisher is more eager than ever for the book.

"This is not a piece of luck for me," Mr. McGinnis said. "This is a horrible thing. I worry about how much one man, the father, can take. And these kids who lived in that house in Greenwich up until the end of last year, now find out that not only is their father dead, but their uncle with whom they lived has been murdered."

Mr. McGinniss is the literary version of the knockaround guy, an author who has been places and done things, and gotten into his share of scrapes along the way. In 1968, at 26, he wrote "The Selling of the President," a book that all but defined the modern American presidential campaign, and later produced "Fatal Vision" in 1983, a true-crime thriller that Mr. McGinniss originally conceived as a story about a wrongly charged man but which became a literary indictment of Jeffrey MacDonald, a Green Beret doctor who was convicted of killing his wife.

Mr. MacDonald, who continues to maintain his innocence, sued Mr. McGinniss in 1988 for rendering him as a murderous sociopath, and the case was settled for $325,000. (An appeal of his conviction will be heard later this year.) Janet Malcolm of The New Yorker used "Fatal Vision" as an example of the duplicity that lies at the heart of the journalistic transaction with sources.

Mr. McGinniss's 1993 book, "The Last Brother," about Senator Edward M. Kennedy, was roundly criticized for flimsy reporting and the liberties that he took in the writing, but in his two most recent books, "The Big Horse," about a race season in Saratoga, and "The Miracle of Castel di Sangro," a book about a soccer team in Italy, were well received.

"It seems that weird stuff happens around me, and I have no idea what to attribute that to," said Mr. McGinnis, who has lived a life as rich in drama as some of the nonfiction characters he writes about, including a near-fatal accident and a tour as a teacher at a university that he said was backed by a Buddhist cult.

His publisher still hopes that the book can be out next year.

"It opens up a whole facet to the story that has to be reported out and that will be complicated," said David Rosenthal, publisher and executive vice president of Simon & Schuster. "It is turning into a true American saga of murder, money and milkshakes."

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April 04, 2006
Andrew Kissel

The Kissel story took another turn for the worse yesterday. From Bloomberg, a report that Andrew Kissel, Robert's brother, has been found stabbed to death in America:

April 4 (Bloomberg) -- Andrew Kissel, the U.S. real estate developer charged with fraud, forgery and theft, was found dead in his home with multiple stab wounds, less than three years after his brother was murdered in Hong Kong. Police in Greenwich, Connecticut, said in a statement yesterday that the body of Kissel, 46, was found by workers from a moving company.

In November 2003 his brother Robert Kissel, an investment banker at Merrill Lynch & Co. in Hong Kong, was beaten to death by his wife Nancy after she fed him a drug-laced milkshake. She is now serving a life sentence. Andrew was facing a federal bank fraud charge and state grand larceny and forgery charges.

"Mr. Kissel appears to have suffered several stab wounds to the body,'' according to the statement. "The results of a medical examiner's report on the cause and manner of death are still pending.'' An autopsy will be conducted later today.

Greenwich police were called to Kissel's home at 9:42 a.m. yesterday, where they found the body, said Lieutenant Daniel Allen, a department spokesman. The police are treating the death as a homicide, the statement said.

Kissel's attorney, Philip Russell, confirmed his client's death and otherwise declined to comment. A call to a phone number listed for Kissel in Connecticut, where he lived with his wife and the couple's two children, wasn't returned.

In July, federal prosecutors charged Andrew Kissel with falsifying mortgage documents to defraud lenders of as much as $11 million in loans. At the time of his arrest, Nancy Kissel was on trial in Hong Kong. She killed Robert in their bedroom with five blows to the head with a lead statue and slept with his body for at least two nights, the court was told. She claimed self defense. She was convicted in September.

Hong Kong Prison

Nancy Kissel, now living in a 7 foot by 7 foot cell in top security Tai Lam women's prison near the Chinese border, alleged at her trial that Andrew was a drug addict.

In December 2003, Andrew and Hayley, a former Wall Street analyst with Merrill Lynch & Co., sought temporary custody of Robert's three children. The court granted it in January 2004. In October, a court awarded temporary guardianship of the children to Jane Clayton, 38, the sister of Robert and Andrew, who lives in Seattle.

In October, Andrew Kissel was indicted by a New York state grand jury in Manhattan on charges of stealing $3.9 million from a co-op where he had been treasurer. That case was adjourned until May 26, said Barbara Thompson, a spokeswoman for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.

Not-Guilty Plea

Kissel faced as many as 25 years in prison had he been convicted of the state charges. He was in court on March 31 and was expected to return next month to plead guilty to a grand larceny charge and agree to serve a jail term, Thompson said.

Kissel had pleaded not guilty to both the state and federal charges. A father of two, he was free on bail at the time of his death. His next hearing in the federal case was April 6. A spokesman for the Connecticut medical examiner's office said an autopsy will be held today. The spokesman wouldn't identify the deceased or disclose other information.

Porsche, Jet

The Kissel brothers were born in Manhattan and raised in the New Jersey suburbs. Robert, who was 40 when he died, was an expatriate banker living in a $20,000-a-month, 3,270-square- foot (304-square-meter) apartment with a view of Hong Kong's skyline and the South China Sea; driving a silver Porsche Carrera; and employing two live-in Filipina maids. He amassed a $20 million fortune.

Andrew, 45, lived in a four-bedroom, four-bath house in Greenwich, Connecticut; bought a $2.85 million, 75-foot Hatteras yacht named Five Keys; and had access to a private jet. He called his company Hanrock because the first four letters stood for the initials of the brothers and their wives -- Hayley Kissel, Andrew, Nancy and Robert.

"He always wanted to be in real estate, and he made a lot of money too, but he thought he had figured out a way of being able to spend more than he made,'' Andrew's father William Kissel said in an interview in Hong Kong in September.

At the time of his death, Andrew's wife, Hayley, was seeking a divorce. Her attorney, Joseph Martini, had no comment on the reports of Andrew's death.

Federal authorities claimed that Kissel had deposited records with town clerks falsely claiming that mortgages on properties he controlled had been paid off. He allegedly filed papers falsely claiming the property was free of debt in order to take out multiple loans against the same property.

The Manhattan district attorney charged Kissel with forgery and grand larceny for siphoning money from the bank accounts of a co-op apartment building on New York's Upper East Side, where he was treasurer from 1996 to 2002.

Kissel pleaded not guilty to both sets of charges.

The federal case is U.S. v. Kissel, 06-cr-77, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, White Plains.

No family deserves this amount of tragedy.

Here is the New York Times story: Developer on Eve of Guilty Plea is Discovered Slain at His Home (reproduced below the jump).

GREENWICH, Conn., April 3 — Andrew M. Kissel, the wealthy Greenwich real estate developer who had agreed to plead guilty this week to having swindled banks, title companies and others out of tens of millions of dollars, was found dead on Monday, his hands and feet bound, in the blood-splattered basement of his home, according to the police and employees of a moving company who discovered the body.

Greenwich police officers arrived about 9:45 a.m. at the home on Dairy Road that Mr. Kissel and his wife, Hayley, had been renting for three years. Officers and investigators from the state medical examiner's office spent the day combing through the house, which they sealed off with yellow crime-scene tape, as reporters and neighbors watched. The body was removed shortly after 7 p.m.

The police said in a statement last night that Mr. Kissel, 46, appeared to have been stabbed several times and that they were treating his death as a homicide.

Earlier, the police told the medical examiner's office that Mr. Kissel's hands and legs had been bound behind him and that he appeared to have been shot in the head.

Workers from a company hired to move the Kissels out of the house discovered the body in the basement on Monday morning. They described a bloody scene and said Mr. Kissel's hands and feet had been bound and a T-shirt had been pulled over his head.

Before moving to Greenwich, Andrew Kissel and his wife, Hayley Wolff Kissel, lived in a richly appointed duplex in a co-op building on 74th Street near Third Avenue. He was an investor and a real estate developer who owned classic cars and a $3 million yacht; his wife, a former world mogul-skiing champion, was a widely quoted stock analyst.

His death was the latest tragedy to befall the Kissel family after years of apparent success.

In 2003, Mr. Kissel's brother, Robert, a successful investment banker with Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong, was bludgeoned to death by his wife, Nancy, who had one of her children give him a milkshake laced with sedatives. The killing was called the "milkshake murder" in the Hong Kong press.

At the time, questions had already been raised about Andrew Kissel's management of his co-op building's finances. He ended up paying $4.7 million in restitution, making the final payment about a week before his brother was murdered.

There was a lengthy custody battle over Robert's three children after the murder, with Andrew and Hayley Kissel initially winning temporary custody pending the resolution of the mother's trial.

After Nancy Kissel was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for her husband's murder, the custody fight resumed as Andrew Kissel's business empire crumbled amid allegations from state and federal prosecutors that it was built on fraud.

Hayley Kissel offered to retain custody of the children, even though she initiated divorce proceedings against her husband early in 2005. But in December, family members agreed that Robert's three children should live with Jane Kissel Clayton, Andrew and Robert's only other sibling, and her husband, Richard, at their home in Mercer Island, Wash.

Andrew Kissel was scheduled to appear in federal court in White Plains on Wednesday to plead guilty to fraud charges in various real estate deals, according to his criminal lawyer, Philip Russell. Mr. Kissel also faced fraud charges in a separate case brought by the Manhattan district attorney's office stemming from the millions of dollars he had admitted taking and then repaid with interest to his Manhattan neighbors in the years he served as treasurer of his co-op.

"I haven't read the book of Job yet, but I'm about to," Mr. Kissel's father, William, said on Monday after learning of his other son's death. He said the Greenwich police had told his daughter that "there was trauma. That's all they said."

According to officials of the moving company that was hired by Mr. Kissel's wife on Friday to move the family's belongings out of the home over the weekend, movers discovered Mr. Kissel's body on Monday when they went to retrieve the last of the Kissels' belongings.

Mr. Kissel's hands and feet were bound, his T-shirt was pulled over his head and "there was blood everywhere," according to Doug Roina, the manager of the company, J. B. Moving of Stamford. "It almost sounds like a mob hit, the way it was set up," he said. "If his hands and feet were bound, it would be a tough suicide."

The Kissel family had sought to keep a low profile in Greenwich while laboring under the shadow of the divorce, the looming criminal case against Mr. Kissel, and several civil lawsuits seeking to seize assets that Mr. Kissel obtained in the years he was living the millionaire's life.

Mrs. Kissel found work as an equities analyst in Stamford while caring for the couple's two daughters Ruth, 8, and Dara, 6. Mr. Kissel had been helping his lawyer liquidate assets and raise cash in an effort to placate creditors in hopes that it would reduce the punishment he faced, his lawyer said.

According to legal papers filed in State Superior Court in Stamford by Mrs. Kissel on Feb. 28 as part of the divorce case, Mr. Kissel had also been in and out of rehabilitation programs for alcohol abuse and "has resumed drinking alcohol, consumes alcohol on the property" and has been "belligerent and argumentative especially when intoxicated including in the company of the minor children."

On Friday, Mrs. Kissel called J. B. Moving, and said that she wanted the company to send movers to her house the following day to empty its contents and store them for at least a week to give her time to figure out where everything ought to be shipped, according to Mr. Roina. He said the company's owner, who did an estimate, "thought it was a strange situation. It was not our normal move scenario," having someone call one day to order a move large enough to require three trucks for the following day.

He said that the couple were arguing or "going at it pretty good" while his movers were on the premises on Saturday and that at one point, Mrs. Kissel turned to one of the movers and said, "He's going to jail anyway," by way of explanation for the heated volley of words.

Having to watch "was uncomfortable for my guys," said Mr. Roina.

At least one part of the couple's argument, Mr. Roina said, revolved around Mr. Kissel's desire to stay in the house over the weekend, and the two ultimately agreed to leave a few items, including the bedroom set, until Monday morning so that Mr. Kissel could remain, Mr. Roina said.

His wife and the children then left, according to the movers. On Monday about 8 or 8:30 a.m., when the movers returned to finish the job, they had trouble getting into the house and called Mrs. Kissel, Mr. Roina said. He said she gave them a code number that opened the gate and they began to gather the last of the couple's belongings. When they got to the basement, he said, they found Mr. Kissel, notified their boss and called the police.

At that point, Mr. Roina said he called Mrs. Kissel and notified her that "you need to get to your house; there's a situation there."

"She said, 'oh, O.K.,' no reaction. Not even a question," he said.

Mrs. Kissel did not respond to an e-mail message seeking comment.

William Kissel said a relative of his from Boston did reach Mrs. Kissel on Monday and was told simply, "Andrew died."

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November 14, 2005
Inevitable Kissel book deal

The SCMP reports on the book deal on the Kissel case:

US true-crime author Joe McGinniss is writing a book on the bizarre murder of Merrill Lynch banker Robert Kissel by his wife, Nancy Kissel. The book, planned for publication in late 2007 according to a source close to the author, will tell the tale of a seemingly perfect marriage that ended in a bloodbath when the 41-year-old Michigan-born Kissel served her husband a sedatives-laced milkshake and bludgeoned him to death in their Parkview flat on November 2, 2003...The story will also shed light on the victim's elder brother, Andrew Kissel, who faces federal charges that he defrauded millions of dollars, and is under house arrest in Greenwich, Connecticut.

The book, acquired by publisher Simon & Schuster, will mark McGinniss' return to the true-crime genre after a 15-year absence. The author will be working with the co-operation of the victim's father, William Kissel.

McGinniss began his career as a Philadelphia journalist. He is best known for his book The Selling of the President 1968 (1969), which provides a stunning account of the marketing of Richard Nixon during that presidential campaign. The book landed him on The New York Times bestseller list at the age of 26.

Another of his famous works, Fatal Vision (1983), chronicled the chilling murder case of Jeffrey MacDonald, a Princeton-educated physician who was convicted of slaying his pregnant young wife and their two children. His other books include Blind Faith (1989) and Cruel Doubt (1991).

No word on movie rights.

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October 20, 2005
Nancy Kissel: Guilty (Updated October 20th)

The trial has ended, and the jury has convicted Nancy Kissel of murder; she has been sentenced to life in prison. Please scroll to the bottom for details and breaking news. A summary of the links and details of the case:

For earlier trial updates and background information, please look at:
1. Nancy Kissel archive part 1 (covers up to July 18th, including introductory material)
2. Nancy Kissel archive part 2 (covers between July 19th and August 4th).
3. Nancy Kissel archive part 3 (covers between August 5th and August 18th)
4. Nancy Kissel archive part 4 (covers between August 20th and August 30th)

ESWN also has a comprehensive archive on the Kissel trial.

Update September 1st

* The Standard: Jury expected to retire and decide Nancy Kissel's fate
* SCMP: Judge questions Kissel's 'meltdown' claim

Defence claims that Nancy Kissel had a "meltdown" after she killed her husband had to be considered in light of the manner in which she carried out what the prosecution called her "cover-up" activities, jurors were told in the Court of First Instance yesterday.

Mr Justice Michael Lunn also said the evidence of Kissel's generous contributions to her children's school and the Jewish community was "unchallenged".

The judge, on the second day of his summing up, drew the jury's attention to stills taken from closed-circuit television footage that showed the defendant dragging a large suitcase, carrying a rug and shopping bags on different occasions two days after she allegedly murdered Robert Peter Kissel, a senior Merrill Lynch banker, in their Parkview apartment on Sunday November 2, 2003.

The judge said Suzara Serquina, of Tequila Kola in Aberdeen, described the defendant as "normal" but "a little bit loud" during her visit to the furniture store at 5.30pm on November 3.

The accused, wearing sunglasses inside the store, gave a lavish compliment on a display item.

"[The witness] and another salesperson exchanged glances," the judge said.

The accused bought a chaise lounge, two cushions, and a small carpet, and ordered a tailor-made bedcover, before returning the next day to buy two more large carpets at a total price of $27,000.

The defendant had also on the morning of November 3 ordered 20 cartons from Links Relocation, a removal firm, the judge said.

The police later found bloody items, including the 3.7kg lead ornament Kissel used to attack her husband, in the boxes.

She was also found to have accessed the homepage of Hong Kong Police and its pages on missing and wanted persons on the same day, he added.

Mr Justice Lunn invited the jurors to look at the evidence "in respect of whether or not she had gone into a meltdown" after the killing.

Kissel, 41, has admitted killing the banker but pleaded not guilty to murder.

Alexander King SC, for the defence, argued in his closing submission that Kissel had "melted down" after the killing, and that this had caused her to carry out a number of bizarre acts, such as sleeping with her husband's body for at least two nights and calling her husband's mobile phone.

He urged the jury to acquit her of murder, arguing that she had acted in lawful self-defence.

Kissel told the court that she could not recall much about the incidents in those few days.

But prosecutor Peter Chapman said the acts were carried out to cover up the alleged murder.

The judge reminded the jury that the accused had also ordered her two Filipino maids to buy six boxes of peppermint oil from the Body Shop and two coils of rope in Stanley.

She also arranged for some Parkview workmen to carry the old carpet roll concealing the deceased's body to her storeroom on November 5. When the head workman commented to her that the carpet smelt like "salt fish", she did not react and closed the door.

The judge said Bryna O'Shea, Kissel's best friend in San Francisco, said in her oral evidence that the defendant was not crying on the phone and that she was "forcing herself to sound upset" when she told her that her husband walked out after beating her. This left the witness questioning what was really happening, said the judge.

The prosecution witness also found it strange that Kissel complained to her about being unable to write out cheques and said "f***ing Rob had it all tied up with Merrill Lynch" at a time when she did not know his whereabouts.

Ms O'Shea also recalled asking her friend if she wanted to cancel breast enhancement surgery scheduled for mid-November in San Francisco. To her surprise, the accused replied: "No, don't cancel it. I will be there."

But the judge said various defence witnesses had given "unchallenged evidence" on her generous contributions to the Hong Kong International School, where she had been the vice-president of the Parent Faculty Office (PFO), school photographer, and organiser of a successful annual fund-raising event.

He repeated the remark of her good friend and former president of the PFO, Trudy Samra, in relation to her efforts in creating the popular school calendar: "Nancy is the calendar."

And Mr Justice Lunn reiterated a government scientist's conclusion that he had never encountered the combination of five drugs found in the victim's stomach and liver contents - alleged to come from a sedative-laced milkshake Kissel used to drug him.

The jury is expected to deliberate whether to return a verdict of murder, manslaughter or acquit her after the judge finishes his directions today.

Update September 2nd

* The Standard: Lover 'Bragged' Of Affair
* The Standard: GUILTY
* The Standard: Dad agonized over 'false' charges against victim
* The Standard: Robert 'would probably ask for compassion'
* The Standard: Murder trial like a US soap opera in HK courtroom
* SCMP: Nancy Kissel Jailed for Life

Nancy Kissel was sentenced to life in prison yesterday after seven jurors unanimously found her guilty of murdering her husband after one of Hong Kong's most sensational trials.

The 41-year-old mother of three was expressionless in the dock as guards put her in handcuffs and escorted her to a prison van after Justice Michael Lunn passed sentence. Her mother, Jean McGlothlin, and friends broke down in court.

After eight hours of deliberation, the grave-looking jurors entered the courtroom about 8.30pm, to return a unanimous verdict of murder.

Sentencing Kissel, Mr Justice Lunn thanked the jurors for sitting with patience and care through the "gruesome details of the circumstances in which Robert Kissel met his death" in a trial that almost lasted three months. He exempted them from jury service for the next 15 years and granted them the maximum additional allowance of $280 a day for performing their duty.

Michigan-born Kissel was arrested five days after she drugged Robert Kissel, a senior Merrill Lynch banker, with a milkshake and bludgeoned him to death with a heavy lead ornament in their luxurious Parkview flat on November 2, 2003. She arranged for workmen to carry the victim's body, concealed in an old oriental rug, to her storeroom.

Prosecutor Peter Chapman said during the trial that Kissel killed her husband in a "cold-blooded" murder to escape a "messy, lengthy" divorce and be with Michael Del Priore, her TV-repairman lover who lived in a trailer park in Vermont.

Defence counsel Alexander King SC claimed Kissel had been subjected to five years of forceful anal sex and physical assault by a husband who abused cocaine and searched for gay porn websites. Kissel told the court her husband had threatened to kill her with a baseball bat and that she had almost no memory of the activities she embarked on to cover up her crime.

William Kissel, the victim's 77-year-old father who flew from Florida to attend the trial, said after the verdict: "Justice has been served. Am I sad? Yes, I lost my son. My son is resting in peace now. All the allegations against him have been proven false. The jury, after a three-month trial, in half a day, declared her guilty of murder.

"Rob was a wonderful father. He tried his best to be a wonderful husband and I just wished that his children could go on with their lives knowing the beauty of their father and how much he loved them.

"One doesn't stand up in court and accuse one's husband of all these horrible events because at the same time you do that, you are condemning your own children, your grandchildren and great-grandchildren."

Kissel's mother, Jean McGlothlin, who stood by her daughter every day in court, held back tears as she said to a crowd of journalists: "Mostly I would like to say thank you for the respect you have shown me and my family. Except for photographers, you have all been wonderful. It's helped me enormously ... I am trying to get my feet on the ground."

She refused to say whether an appeal would be lodged. The simmering feud between the camps of Robert and Nancy Kissel boiled over into a public slanging match as they waited for the verdict.

As William Kissel was telling reporters about what he termed the "terrible legacy" his daughter-in-law had left for her children, Nancy Kissel's adviser, former journalist Jim Laurie, said she should be allowed to see her children.

Mr Laurie, a lecturer in journalism at the University of Hong Kong, suggested the children's financial security would be threatened if Robert's brother Andrew, who is facing embezzlement charges in the US, won custody of the children.

Mr Kissel lashed out at the defence's tactic of portraying his son as a sodomist, cocaine addict and alcoholic. "You don't know him [just] because you lived in the same building," he said to Mr Laurie.

"What puts you in a position to judge?" Mr Laurie replied it was "impossible to know what happened" in the relationship.

Mr Kissel shot back: "Are you going to write a book now ... and say Nancy is innocent?"

The judge also ordered transcripts and statements on the withholding of the baseball bat by the defence for 18 months to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Mr Justice Lunn said in his summing up yesterday morning that the court had heard nothing about the defence keeping the baseball bat - allegedly used by the deceased to beat his wife - until July 21. He said that Simon Clark, the defence solicitor who was in court throughout the trial, had been keeping the bat since finding it in the bedroom of Kissel's flat in November 9, 2003.

"What became of the baseball bat during the period between November 9, 2003, and July 21, 2005? We knew nothing about it at all."

* SCMP: The 'perfect' marriage that ended in a Parkview bloodbath
Outsiders said Robert and Nancy Kissel had the best marriage in the universe. The husband was a high-flying senior investment banker at Merrill Lynch whose personal estate is worth US$18 million. The wife, an attractive, artistic, and devoted mother of three, had everything that an expat woman could dream of. They lived in a luxurious Parkview apartment and sped about town in a Mercedes and a Porsche. They appeared in public with big smiles, dining with important people such as former US president George Bush.

But the illusion of the beautiful life was shattered on November 2, 2003. On that fateful day, Nancy Kissel killed her husband by hammering his head repeatedly with a heavy lead ornament. The blows were of such force that parts of his skull were pushed into the cerebral cortex and white matter inside the brain. The two figurines sitting atop the 3.7kg ornament flew off during the attack, splattering blood all over the bedroom.

When the 41-year-old stepped into the High Court in late May, her appearance was almost unrecognisable from that two years ago in the days before the killing. The shine in her eyes was gone, blonde hair turned dark brown, colourful outfits had become plain black, her trademark sunglasses replaced by studious, oval, wire-rimmed glasses. She had lost so much weight that she walked like a shadow floating in court.

Her husband, found by police in a rolled-up rug in her Parkview storeroom five days after the killing, was buried in a cemetery in the US state of New Jersey. Their children, in the temporary custody of the estranged wife of her brother-in-law in Greenwich, Connecticut, had not seen or spoken to her since the murder.

Yesterday, after a sensational three-month trial involving more than 500 exhibits and over 100 witnesses, Kissel was found guilty of what prosecutor Peter Chapman called the "cold-blooded" murder of her husband.

When she testified in early August, Kissel gripped the city as she admitted for the first time that she had killed her husband. "Do you accept that you killed Robert Kissel," asked Mr Chapman to open his cross-examination. "Yes," Kissel replied. When the prosecutor accused her of trying to conjure a picture of the victim as an abusive husband, she broke down. "I still love him. Things happened. I stayed with him. I loved him, and I am not sitting here to paint a bad picture about him, because he's my husband," she said.

But the story of a love turned sour did not end there. It was to be followed with allegations of spousal abuse, cocaine addiction, sodomy, extramarital affairs and greed.

Life had seemed to go on as usual for Nancy Kissel on Sunday, November 2, 2003. About 9am, she drove her Mercedes to the Sunday morning service at the United Jewish Congregation on Robinson Road, Mid-Levels. When she was nearing the Parkview taxi rank, she saw Andrew Tanzer and his seven-year-old daughter, Leah, carrying a schoolbag with the logo of the congregation's Sunday school. Kissel offered the pair a ride.

At the congregation, Kissel met her husband, who had taken their three children to the service in his Porsche. She introduced him to their newly met neighbours. Leah, a sociable girl, recognised Kissel's second child, June, was also from Parkview. She urged her father to arrange a play date for her and June in the afternoon.

Shortly before 11am, Kissel left the congregation and drove her eldest child, Elaine, to her friend's birthday junk party. She dropped her daughter at Aberdeen Marina Club and drove back home. Meanwhile, her husband was having lunch at the congregation with June and the youngest child, Reis.

But under the surface of normalcy was a sea of turbulence. By that time, Robert Kissel had lost hope of saving the marriage after realising that his wife remained in frequent contact with Michael Del Priore, with whom she had begun a sexual relationship during her stay with her children in Vermont to escape Sars that summer. He had told close colleague David Noh that he would discuss getting a divorce with his wife that afternoon. Nancy must have discovered his intention because a "stupid" lawyer of his had earlier sent a list of divorce lawyers to the family e-mail account, not his Merrill Lynch one, he told him.

By that time, Kissel had already acquired three hypnotic drugs - Rohypnol, Lorivan and Stilnox - and an anti-depressant - amitriptyline - in a seven-day "shopping spree" for drugs in late October. She had told a doctor and a psychiatrist that she had serious sleeping problems, was assaulted by her husband, and had parents with a history of depression, alcoholism, and violence. The same drugs, plus an additional hypnotic, Axotal, were found in Robert Kissel's stomach and liver contents during an autopsy.

About 2.30pm, the banker returned home with the two children. Tanzer took Leah to see June in the Kissel's flat in Tower 17 at 2.45. The neighbour said it was a bit odd that Kissel never came out to greet him as the two men were talking in the living room. When he was about to leave, Leah and June came out of the kitchen with two identical glasses of pink milkshake that the prosecution argued Kissel had laced with a cocktail of sedatives for their fathers.

Mr Tanzer said he had "never drunk anything like that" and asked Kissel what it was when she popped her head out of the kitchen. "It's a secret recipe," she told him. He returned home at 4pm, shocking his wife by passing out on the couch and, bizarrely, treating himself to three tubs of ice cream at dinner. The next morning, he had almost no recollection of the evening.

Meanwhile, Kissel's husband took his son to the playroom downstairs about 5pm, where he talked for 10 minutes on the phone with David Noh. Noh said the deceased sounded tired, slurry and mellow. Robert was "on a different tangent", talking about export markets when he was asking him about real estate prices, he recalled.

Twenty minutes later, Kissel sent their maid Maximina Macaraeg to tell Robert to return to the flat. The helper met him in the car park as he was on his way home and took his son from him.

That was the last time Robert Kissel was seen alive. The next time his son saw him would be when three days later his body was carried out of the flat by four Parkview workmen in an old, stinking rug.

Back in January 2003, a month after Kissel had walked out on her husband after a fight on a skiing vacation in Whistler, Vancouver, according to her testimony, he installed Eblaster spyware on his wife's laptop and a home computer to monitor her activity. In June, he hired two private investigators to find out if his wife was cheating on him in Vermont.

He would never have imagined that the steps he had taken to confirm his suspicions would one day become crucial evidence for the police and prosecutors to retrace the steps leading to his demise. It was from the spyware reports that the court learned of the diary entries recording Kissel's frustration with her deteriorating marriage and her website searches for the drugs used to dull her husband's senses on the fateful day.

The banker would certainly have had no idea that the sick joke of his confidante, Bryna O'Shea, who said: "If Nancy is going to kill you, put me in your will," would be an omen.

With the effort of a large number of experts in DNA typing, bloodstain pattern analysts, pathologists, police officers, photographers and forensic scientists, the prosecution established that Robert Kissel was walking to his death when he returned to his flat from the car park.

Prosecutors said that his wife silently observed him as he got changed into his sleeping clothes and collapsed at the foot of their bed under the influence of the sedatives in the milkshake. They said she then struck the right side of his head using the lead ornament with what Mr Chapman called "the murderous intention to kill", until the metal base was deformed and the two figurines detached. Rendered defenceless by the drugs, the deceased suffered 10 lacerations to his head, including five fractures, each potentially fatal.

In the prosecution's theory, Michael Del Priore featured largely in the case. Living as he did on a Vermont trailer park, he saw Kissel as a "gold mine", Mr Chapman suggested. The lover could have given "tacit encouragement" to the killing, he said, since phone bill records indicated long-distance phone conversations between the two, including 106 calls in October 2003, and many more in the days following the killing. Some of the calls lasted for hours. Kissel remained expressionless throughout the prosecution case, at times jotting notes in the dock for her lawyers. On the day when a variety of stomach-churning, bloody exhibits - including pillows and bedcovers soaked with the victim's blood - were paraded in court, she lowered her gaze to the floor.

Outside the courtroom, Kissel, often sporting a friendly smile, chatted with expatriates and hugged supporters. In the defence team's makeshift office in court, she sometimes spoke with dramatic gestures, as if she was directing the counsels. She also chatted with guards in the dock using the Cantonese she had mastered during the year she spent in the custody ward of Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre after she was arrested.

"I learnt it from the people in Siu Lam. There was nobody speaking English there. I had to survive. I also taught them English," she told the South China Morning Post.

Her mother, Jean, had been her backbone from the start of the trial, walking with her hand in hand out of the court to brave the crowd of journalists. After the judge revoked Kissel's bail when she finished her testimony early last month, guards exercised their discretion to allow the mother to spend short moments with her daughter on several occasions.

That was not all that went on away from the gaze of jurors. Defence counsel Alexander King SC asked the judge on July 20 to recall the Kissels' maid Maximina Macaraeg, police officers and forensic scientists to testify about a baseball bat. He revealed that his instructing solicitor, Simon Clark, had found the bat in the Kissels' bedroom on November 9, 2003, a day after the police relinquished the crime scene. Mr Clark had since kept the bat in his office, he said.

Mr Chapman, arguing against the application, raised the issue of professional conduct to the judge. He questioned the defence motive in writing a letter to the prosecution in January this year asking if the police had seized a baseball bat in the master bedroom - at a time when the bat was already "sitting safely" in Mr Clark's office. But the defence claimed that it was asking about another baseball bat in the letter.

Mr Justice Lunn said he found it "astonishing" that the bat was not presented to court until then, but granted the recall of witnesses to ensure a fair trial for the defendant, saying the bat could be central to the defence case. Last night he announced that he had informed the Director of Public Prosecutions of his concerns over the matter.

Nancy Kissel would later tell the court, in tears, that it was the bat her husband had used to beat her on the evening of November 2, 2003. She recalled being in the kitchen as her husband called to her. She went out and saw him leaning on a baseball bat at the doorway of their bedroom. "I am filing for divorce and I am taking the kids. It's a done deal," her husband told her. Tapping the bat in his hand, he said it was to protect himself in case she got "mad". She went back to the dining room and grabbed the lead statue, her heirloom, in a fright.

She trembled as she told the court how her husband said to her: "I will f***ing kill you, you bitch". She said her husband smacked her face and grabbed her arm after she waved her finger in his face. She fell, dropping the statue.

"He pulled me into the room, pulled me onto the bed ... and started to have sex with me," she said. "I started kicking him. We ended up on the floor," she said. Kissel said she reached for the statue on the floor and swung her arm back. "I didn't even look and I thought I hit something," she said.

"He came down on me as I was holding the statue in front of my face," she said in a weak voice.

Unable to carry on, Kissel sat, trembling and wordless, for almost a minute, the stares of all in the court fixed on her face. Finally after trembling for almost a minute, she said: "I can't remember."

The defence case turned more intriguing as its computer forensic experts displayed in court alleged homosexual and gay porn website searches by the deceased. In their case, Robert Kissel was a "controlling" and "demanding" man who abused not only his wife, but cocaine, painkillers, alcohol and his children. Above all, he was uncertain about his sexual identity, looking for male and female prostitutes everywhere he travelled and forcing his wife into performing oral and anal sex day after day over a five-year period.

Her "dissociative amnesia" was used to explain away the series of bizarre "cover-up" she undertook after the murder.

Somehow, she managed to get her husband's body into a sleeping bag and roll it neatly in a large, old rug stuffed with towels and plastic bags.

She called her father in Chicago, saying that she had been beaten up badly by her husband. She gave her friends, her father, and a doctor four to five versions of the events of November 2.

She arranged for the delivery of cardboard boxes, some of which she used to pack away the bloody contents of the bedroom. She hired four Parkview workmen to transport the stinking rug to a storeroom. On November 6, she reported to the police an assault by her husband.

Evidence showed that she had even called her husband's mobile phone twice shortly after the killing. Meanwhile, she had not stopped talking to Del Priore until her arrest in the early hours of November 7. In court, she said she had never seen the lover again, but he was the only one in her life to whom she could open her heart.

Jurors, like the prosecution, found her web of lies too hard to believe. After more than eight hours of deliberation, they found her guilty of murder. The sentence was automatic - life in prison.

"The only person whom Nancy Kissel could not deceive is Robert Kissel. He found out, and he is dead," said Mr Chapman.

*SCMP: The popular guy surrounded by girls who met his match on a Club Med cruise

Robert Kissel dropped a chilling hint to his closest childhood friend about five months before he died that his outwardly perfect marriage was in trouble. After tracking down Daniel Williams through the internet, Kissel sent him several happy family pictures. Wife Nancy was in none of them, although Mr Williams had been at their wedding.

"Rob sent pictures of himself on the beach, one of his three kids, as well as one of his daughter on the beach," Mr Williams said. "I suspect he may have known that his marriage was in trouble then as Nancy was in none of the pictures." Friends like Mr Williams and Kissel's first girlfriend, Carol Japngie, have painted a picture of an attractive man who liked girls, displayed leadership qualities and had a tendency to be controlling. He had tried drugs but hated them, to the extent he would react angrily if he saw anyone using them.

They also told of a "fun" couple who met on a Club Med singles cruise to the Caribbean in 1987 and then started to raise a family in New York while enjoying an active social life with friends, giving no hint of the tragedy that was to follow. Nancy was remembered before their marriage as - like many of her friends - a "sexually social, flirtatious" young woman who wore her naturally brown hair in a blonde bob. As the nightmarish sequence of events unfolded in court, Ms Japngie recalled her own relationship with Robert Kissel, saying: "I remember saying to my mum afterwards that if I had married him, he wouldn't be dead now."

Years before, Robert Kissel had made it very clear to her that they would never have married, however. Even after their romance blossomed into a sexual one on the ski slopes of Vermont, he told her: "We can't be serious because you aren't Jewish," which she understood. They met as sophomores at Pascack Hills High School in New Jersey. Her family had just moved from California and it was not long before she caught the attention of one of the most popular boys in school.

"Robbie was a popular boy and all the girls in our class were attracted to him. I was new and didn't know anyone in the school and Rob and I became best friends," Ms Japngie said. So much so that, six months later at Christmas, she was invited to join him on one of his family's ski trips to Vermont. Robert asked her to be his girlfriend.

"I had a great vacation with his family skiing in Vermont. From the first time we met, his sister Jane and I became close like sisters," she said.

They had sex on the ski trip, although it was not planned. She said she got the idea after finding a condom among suitcases belonging to Robert's father. "I initiated it and it was spontaneous. I think the whole day was leading up to that," Ms Japngie said. "There was more a sense of trust that overwhelmed the apprehension. I guess there was also the thrill of getting caught."

During their two-year relationship, she revealed that Robert didn't mind smoking marijuana, although it would make him pass out. Cocaine was another story. "We both tried coke once. He said, `this is the devil'. He could not swallow and my throat choked up," Ms Japngie said. She doesn't recall exactly when or where it happened, but they were both just about 17 and had crashed a party of 19- and 20-year-olds.

They played darts and pool before someone in the room cut 15 to 20 lines of cocaine on a mirror and passed it from person to person. By the time it reached them, there were only two or three lines left. "Some guy handed the coke to us. I remember he was a big black guy and quite intimidating. Rob said no, and I was poking him, urging him to just go and leave," she said.

Fearful of being assaulted or exposed as gatecrashers, he snorted a line of cocaine. She did the same. "About 10 or 15 minutes later, we were freaking out. Our throats closed up. We looked at each other and we turned white. Our hearts were racing," Ms Japngie said.

When someone broke out lines of cocaine as they drove to the beach after their high school prom in 1981, Robert threw a fit, Ms Japngie recalled. "He stopped the car, got out and wanted to go home by bus or train. He was so pissed off. I spent two or three hours fighting with him, trying to coax him into hanging out. If ever anyone mentioned drugs, he was out of there," she said.

She rejected persistent rumours that Kissel had been expelled from Pascack because of drugs. She said his parents believed he could do better academically elsewhere and his father's ink toner business had taken off, making private school possible. He spent his senior year at the Saddle River Country Day School in New Jersey.

Mr Williams agreed his best friend had not been focused on his studies at Pascack. "He was passing his grades but his parents thought he could do better," he said. The two had known each other since they were two years old, growing up in the suburbs of Woodcliff Lake in New Jersey, but had lost touch in the 1990s. Kissel tracked down Mr Williams using

The Kissel wedding in 1989 was the last time Mr Williams saw his friend. His first meeting with Nancy Kissel did not leave much of an impression. "She did not have much to say to me," he said.

Mr Williams described Robert Kissel as a "leader type" who set up a hockey team on his street called the Avon Supersonics. At the Woodcliff middle school, he was the running back and defensive guard on the football team, even though he had been diagnosed with a weak kidney and had to wear a protective pad.

"I thought he was shy around girls," Mr Williams said. Be that as it may, Robert had a string of girlfriends after he broke up with Ms Japngie. First he dated his ex-girlfriend's best friend, Kelly Schwake, although only for a month. She was followed by Nancy Landau and then Jill Canin, a medical student he went out with during his first two years at the University of Rochester.

Nancy Keeshin did not enter his life until around September 1987. He had just got a master's degree at New York University. Nancy had dropped out of the Parsons School of Design after two years. At that time, she had already worked as the floor manager of the Caliente Cab Company, a Mexican restaurant on Waverly Place in New York City, and had switched to the El Rio Grande on 38th Street. Two of her colleagues and friends were waitress Elizabeth Cowey and bartender Bryna O'Shea. "We would often go out and bar hop," Ms Cowey said. "Bryna and Nancy shopped together. I wasn't really a shopper."

In 1989, the Kissels tied the knot at the East River Yacht Club in New York. Ms O'Shea and her husband moved to San Francisco the following year and Ms Cowey married John LaCause in March 1994.

During their New York years, the young Kissel and LaCause families would spend time together. The husbands would sometimes go out to play darts while the mothers stayed with the children.

Mr LaCause said he was aware of arguments early on in the Kissel relationship, especially about money and Nancy's spending habits. However, he believes that the tension between the couple escalated after Mr Kissel extended an initial two-year posting in Hong Kong to what would end up being about six years. "He was only supposed to be in Hong Kong for two years and I know in Nancy's mind, she was only thinking two years," he said. "By the third year, I thought there was trouble in paradise."

"We liked Rob and we had a really fun time together. Rob was a bit more aggressive and more controlling. I never saw that in Nancy," said Mrs LaCause, who was communicating with Nancy two days after her husband's death without knowing what had happened. The last time she saw Nancy was in the summer of 2001, in New York City.

Two years later, Nancy and her children and dog, Daisy, went to Vermont to escape the Sars outbreak in Hong Kong. They returned home in September or October but could not take Daisy with them because of immunisation rules.

Mrs LaCause cared for Daisy until November 3, 2003, when the dog was flown back to Hong Kong.

In an e-mail to Mrs LaCause dated November 4, 2003, Nancy wrote: "Daisy will be here by the time the girls get home from school ... [elder daughter] Elaine is the only one who knows!" Nancy also sent T-shirts for the two LaCause children with their names written in Chinese characters as a thank-you.

Mrs LaCause was unaware that Robert Kissel had been killed until Ms O'Shea phoned her. "I didn't call Nancy at the time and I will probably regret that for the rest of my life. I must have been in shock. I wish I had because I was a friend to her," Mrs LaCause said. They eventually spoke but the conversation was tearful and sad.

"She told me that I don't know how bad it is. She was talking about Rob and how horrible money is and what it does to people. And also about anal sex. She was calling from her lawyer's office so she was not totally forthcoming. She also talked about drinking whisky and cocaine a lot," Mrs LaCause said.

Mrs LaCause added: "If I had a husband who beat me, raped me and sodomised me, I would kill him too."

Update September 3rd

* The Standard: Kissel's lawyers considering appeal
* SCMP: Kissel weighs appeal against conviction

Nancy Kissel may appeal against her murder conviction and life sentence, her lawyer said yesterday.

Alexander King SC said after a post-trial hearing that an appeal was being considered.

Prosecutor Peter Chapman also said he did not expect the case to be over yet.

"It is only chapter one of the Kissel case. Chapter two will start on the third floor of this court building - the Court of Appeal," he said. "The fat lady has not started singing yet."

Kissel, 41, on Thursday was sentenced to life imprisonment for drugging her husband, senior Merrill Lynch banker Robert Peter Kissel, with a sedative-laced milk- shake and bludgeoning him to death with a lead ornament in their Parkview home on November 2, 2003.

Michigan-born Kissel was back in the dock yesterday, looking pale-faced and red-eyed, as counsel discussed the most contentious exhibit in the case, a baseball bat.

Mr Chapman argued that defence should shoulder part of the prosecution's costs as a lot of court time was wasted because Kissel's lawyers did not inform them of the existence of the bat until midway through the trial. A number of witnesses had to be recalled as a result.

During the trial, the defence alleged Robert Kissel had used the bat to beat his wife before the killing.

Mr Justice Michael Lunn ruled out the request for costs, saying the delay in producing the bat had not resulted in a trial adjournment.

The public gallery, which had been packed for weeks, looked bare yesterday as only journalists, Kissel's mother, Jean McGlothlin, and some close friends attended the hearing.

Ms McGlothlin kept looking at her daughter, weeping from time to time. But Kissel smiled after Mr King went to speak to her in the dock before she was taken away by guards.

Prosecution exhibits - including many bloody items - were returned to the Aberdeen Police Station in a van with four masked workmen.

* SCMP: The last days of a man who "had everything"
On Sunday, November 2, 2003, Robert Kissel must have felt the weight of the world on his shoulders. Only those close to the couple knew of the problems in the marriage, of wife Nancy's affair, and Robert's decision to talk to Nancy about getting a divorce that evening.

But on top of this he was preparing a bid for the biggest buyout of bad debt in Asian financial history. Since mid-September Robert had been working 14-hour days preparing to make a bid for $14 billion in non-performing loans from the Bank of China, which involved careful analysis of thousands of non-performing loans.

The competition was hot. This deal was considered a seminal moment in an industry that had blossomed in the wake of Asia's financial crisis in 1997 and 1998. And everyone wanted a slice.

"It was historic. This was truly the moment, and we all wanted to be there," said Joseph Draper, head of Asia Principal Investments with Citigroup.

Robert Kissel was portrayed in court as a debonair banker who loved the power, money and status of his job. But according to his colleagues, he was far more a humble, "jeans and T-shirt guy" who was more of a number cruncher with a sharp brain and an eye for detail than one renowned for long lunches and flashy suits. "Whether you spoke to Rob at 3am or midday, he was always sharp as a nail," one colleague said.

Robert had to be. In his line of work, one bad decision, one small factor of a loan not properly analysed, meant your company could lose millions, leaving your professional reputation in ruins.

At 9.30am that Sunday, Robert was as sharp as ever. The family was at the United Jewish Congregation. Nancy Kissel, far from the dour character slumped in the stand of the High Court during her three-month trial, was, as ever, the picture of blonde glamour and elegance - with her trademark dark sunglasses.

She was, as usual, loud and full of energy, and looking great with a $5,000 cut and colour from the Debut hair salon in the luxury Parkview estate where the family lived.

On the surface, they could have been the perfect family. But beneath the surface was the pressure of a failed marriage, disruptive children and the debt deal that would have cemented Robert at the top of his game.

Rabbi Lee Diamond led a discussion on some anti-Semitic comments made by outgoing Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad at his resignation speech, and Robert Kissel featured prominently in the discussion. His Jewish identity was important and he wanted his children to grow up proud of their heritage.

The United Jewish Congregation in Hong Kong is a powerful organisation, so it was no surprise that some of the key players in the Bank of China deal found themselves talking shop while waiting for their children to finish Sunday school.

Hong Kong's distressed-debt community is largely American, experts who developed their skills around the world and moved to Hong Kong to exploit the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and 1998, as Robert Kissel had done.

Robert and Clifford Chance lawyer Jonathan Zonis, who was working with Merrill Lynch on parts of the deal, found themselves talking to Jonathan Ross, from the Bank of China, and Ian Johnson, of Allen and Overy, who was working for another competitor.

"Rob was saying the field of distressed debt was more competitive than it had ever been and at the same time, he was perhaps more open about the transaction than I thought he would have been," Mr Zonis recalled.

The men were surprised about how frankly Robert, normally the consummate professional, discussed the deal, even outlining some of the financial detail of the bid. He gave Ross a "hard time" about the information the bank had provided him with, outlining some problems with the documentation.

Sunday school ended. Robert, always the family man, stopped talking to hug his children, whom he adored. Those children were described by family and friends as warm and lively, but also "high-maintenance".

One mother close to the family said Nancy was often oblivious to some of their faults - especially son Reis, whose behaviour was concerning teachers at Parkview International Primary School.

In the last week of October 2003, the bid for Bank of China was supposed to take place. But it had been delayed, and many of those working for Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Standard Chartered and Morgan Stanley and various legal teams found themselves in Lan Kwai Fong looking for a quiet beer. They gravitated to Stormy Weather, a bar many now choose not to visit.

It was on this occasion that Robert Kissel chose to tell many that his marriage was over, that his wife was having an affair and he was planning a divorce.

The moment he revealed the end of his marriage was described by one senior banker as "climactic", uttered quietly by a man without colour in his face, who had tried his best against insurmountable odds, but was now finally throwing in the towel.

He would not even challenge for custody of his beloved children as long as he was given access.

However, the pressure of the Bank of China bid put the revelation firmly in the backs of the minds of those who were there.

On the Sunday night, the bidders called each other, wishing the best for the following week.

Robert did not answer his phone or return calls, but they knew he would be dealing with a much more important issue - the end of his marriage.

Then, on the Tuesday of the bid, Robert Kissel was not there - only David Noh, who made excuses for him.

But again, those close knew there were serious problems at home, and accepted Nancy's version - that her husband was "very, very sick".

Nancy had been working on the World's Fair for Hong Kong International School, but e-mailed children's entertainer Scotty to cancel a meeting on the Monday.

On Monday afternoon, she visited her favourite shop, Tequila Kola, to buy rugs to replace the one she would use to wrap her husband's body.

That week, Nancy had also been in charge of preparing invitations to a formal fund-raiser for the synagogue. On Tuesday, close friend Samantha Kriegel phoned to see how the invitations were going. She sensed Nancy was not herself and said she would come over.

But Nancy declined, and said to her: "Listen, don't tell anyone, but Rob is very, very sick, but I haven't told the kids yet."

Ms Kriegel was shaken by Nancy's statements and called Robert Zonis' wife, whom she told what Nancy had said. Mrs Zonis repeated the comments to her husband.

"We were shaken by this news because we had seen Rob on Sunday and he had seemed the picture of health," Mr Zonis said.

"The rumour didn't make sense, but it would have been inappropriate to call Rob as we were right in the middle of a massive deal and I was representing a competing bidder. It might not make sense in hindsight, but that was the last I thought of it until the next day, when I heard he had been killed."

On Friday, November 7, Robert Kissel's colleague and confidant, David Noh, began making a series of phone calls that would devastate a community. "We just want to let you know that Rob is dead and the police suspect that it was a domestic incident," he said in a quavering voice to one member of the elite circle the family moved in.

There had been other hints in the lead-up to November 2 that all was not well.

A husband and wife, who barely knew the Kissels, had been invited over to a family dinner. "At the time, I thought it was really strange, because we didn't even know them," the guest said. "But now, thinking back, maybe Nancy just wanted people around the house." The Kissels spent the dinner openly quarrelling, and the wife said to her husband "if you spoke to me like that, I'd slap you across the face".

When Nancy came back to Hong Kong from Vermont, after the Sars crisis, she liked to "shock" friends by pulling down her shirt and revealing new tattoos, in Chinese characters, of the years her children were born.

"She enjoyed the shock factor. You could tell that Rob was not impressed by this," a friend said. "She said that in Vermont she had wanted to do something a little bit wild."

On Friday, November 7, a small group gathered in the Kriegel living room to try to come to terms with the shocking events. "You can't understand the devastation this has caused," Mr Zonis said.

"It is beyond shock. We were all in our late thirties to early forties, with beautiful young families, at the top of our careers with everything going right in our lives. And then this happens.

"These were people who seemingly had everything. We sat in stunned silence trying to make some sense of this. I'm not sure we have learned any more answers now than we did then."

Update September 5th

* SCMP: A trial and a show

An advertising executive retorted loudly across a Central bar that reading the daily twists, turns and salacious allegations made in the trial of Nancy Ann Kissel for the murder of her husband Robert was "the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning".

While the daily fix is over for this particular high-flyer, Nancy Kissel has now had four days to contemplate a life sentence behind bars, while the fallout from her shocking crime continues in Hong Kong and the US.

Labelled Hong Kong's trial of the decade, the revelations over the past 2-1/2 months in the Court of First Instance have had a firm grip on much of Hong Kong's expat community, with the events that led to Robert Peter Kissel's murder in the couple's luxury apartment on November 2, 2003, leading to endless innuendo, speculation and wild gossip at social gatherings across the city.

But it was a different story for those close to the family. Nancy Kissel's accusations brought a mixture of disgust and disbelief to those who knew the family. "I think many of us realise this defence she was running has never been about what really happened, but about keeping her out of jail," one close family friend said.

Another said there were times when he had to lock himself in a room and scream because he was so angry at the "unfounded" allegations Nancy Kissel was making against her husband. "This woman was clearly a bad, angry person," he said. "I would be frightened to be close to her. Even [her lover Michael] Del Priore must be thanking his lucky stars he got out of there alive."

Another colleague said: "The defence didn't help either. There seemed to be this suggestion that it was `strange' he was talking to his work colleagues about the problems in the marriage. Who else was he going to talk to?"

But most tuned in to see if Robert Kissel, whose hard work had seen him scale a very tall earnings tree with his employer Merrill Lynch, was really a drug and alcohol-fuelled sociopath who battered his wife and forced anal sex upon her. They also tuned in to see whether this sordid defence could keep Nancy Kissel, who had admitted to killing her husband, out of jail - "imagine if she walks?"

It was these grubby details early in the case which saw Nancy Kissel lose sympathy or support from most of those close to the family. They have been furious about the slandering of Robert Kissel's character by his wife - and the terrible legacy that leaves for the children.

"Kissel used cocaine and beat his wife? Well, while no-one can ever see behind closed doors, he was just not like that," said an associate who worked on numerous deals with the banker. "Sure, he was a wild child in his day, but Robert had become the most dedicated family man you would ever meet. The only boozing was maybe one or two beers at Lan Kwai Fong now and then."

Another concern has been the damage done to the Kissels' three children, who are now back in the US and likely to be subjected to a custody battle. One mother, whose children were friends with the Kissels' two daughters and son, saw the children recently and said that while they seemed to be doing well, the psychological scars were likely to be deep.

The murder also forced many parents whose kids knew the popular Kissel children - Elaine, June and Reis - to confront the prickly subject of murder with their children.

One witness in the trial said his daughter had discovered Robert Kissel's brother, Andrew, was facing trial for fraud before he did. "She was right on the ball with the case and followed every twist and turn," the witness said.

Nancy Kissel's supporters and visitors came largely from the Hong Kong International School. One, Geertruida Samra, president of the Parent Faculty Organisation, helped with her bail and regularly visited her in Siu Lam psychiatric centre after the murder.

Some of Robert Kissel's friends were also reportedly behind his wife. Jim Laurie, a distinguished former journalist and University of Hong Kong lecturer, along with a number of his students, stood firmly by Nancy Kissel's mother Jean McGlothlin.

As the tension mounted when the jury was deliberating, Mr Laurie lashed out at the police investigators, claiming the crime scene was not sealed. He became involved in a heated argument with the deceased's father over evidence and questioned whether the children would be cared for.

"What puts you in a position to judge? You are a local Hong Kong guy trying to ride the coattails of some notoriety," William Kissel said, accusing Mr Laurie of wanting to cash in on the murder with a book.

While many observers might have their own theories on whether the 41-year-old housewife was guilty or innocent, it was only the opinions of the five men and two women who made up the jury that mattered. And they had much to consider in the case now called "the milkshake murder" in headlines around the world.

By the fourth day of Nancy Kissel's testimony, the courtroom was packed, as lawyers, students and domestic helpers scrambled for the 60 available seats. They were often joined by "Parkview wives", who had come to see the downfall of one of their own.

The court was forced to impose crowd-control measures, asking the public to queue in an orderly manner before entering the courtroom. Two marshals were used to guard the entrance, and belongings used to reserve seats over lunch were removed.

By August 8, eight weeks after it opened, Nancy Ann Kissel's murder trial was the biggest show in town.

Hong Kong's English-language press, including the South China Morning Post, picked up the early interest in the case and ran extensive reports as the saga unfolded.

Coverage from news wire services has seen the case run in national papers from The Daily Telegraph in London and The Scotsman, to The New York Times, The New York Post, The Washington Times and The Boston Globe in the US.

But apart from the prosecutor's opening, the first day of the defence and some evidence, much of this international interest has not been reflected in the highly competitive Chinese-language press. Reporters from many of the city's top dailies said they were "frustrated" at the lack of interest shown in their work by their editors.

Associate professor of criminal law at the University of Hong Kong, Simon Young Ngai-man, said cultural as well as language barriers were the main reasons the trial had not attracted such a high level of interest among the Chinese community.

However, those same reasons were the prime draw for expatriates in Hong Kong.

The trial featured one of Hong Kong's best prosecutors facing one of its best defence lawyers, in English, without the hindrance of translations.

"We have a female who is accused of murdering her husband, a leading member of Hong Kong's financial community," Mr Young said. "They are members of the elite, upper crust of the expat society in Hong Kong. These are people who do not normally display any form of criminality - at least not in public, anyway.

"The community feels they are getting a glimpse inside the private world of two people, finding out intimate details of their lives, even down to what websites they surfed."

The people who regularly made their way to the packed public gallery formed an eclectic group. Among them were retirees, those with an "unnatural fascination with death", while some claimed to be writing a novel or magazine piece on the case. They are unlikely to be the only ones who will try.

What many spectators shared was a touch of embarrassment that their interest in the trial prompted them to sit through days of evidence over the past two months.

"Perhaps one of the main reasons I'm here is because I have an interest in murder," said one local observer, who asked that his name not be published. "And there has never been a trial like this in Hong Kong, at least not in my lifetime. It's like it has been scripted for a movie, but the story is one you wouldn't believe."

Another spectator, who also wanted anonymity, said her interest lay in the uniqueness of the case. Even when she left Hong Kong for her native India, she closely monitored the daily revelations on the internet. "There has never been a trial like this involving the expat community, at least not in the past 20 years," she said.

But although she watched the trial closely, she admitted that she sometimes felt sorry for the families involved, and wished the court had been closed from public view.

Nevertheless, it did not stop her returning to the court controlled by Mr Justice Michael Lunn to witness the final outcome.

Update Sept 8th

* Sign On San Diego: Kissel to appeal.
* Next magazine article (translated by ESWN)
* Eastweek magazine article (translated by ESWN)

Police have closed investigations into the murder of investment banker Robert Kissel and, contrary to reports, are not pursuing inquiries into his wife's lover, Michael Del Priore. Nancy Ann Kissel, 41, was convicted last week of murdering her husband by drugging him, then bludgeoning him to death. She rolled his body in a carpet and had it stashed in a storeroom on the Parkview estate where the couple lived, the court heard.

Prosecutor Peter Chapman suggested during Kissel's trial that she killed her husband with her lover's "tacit support" and planned to flee into his arms after the crime.

Western District police commander David Madoc-Jones yesterday dismissed as "incorrect rumours" reports that police were investigating Mr Del Priore. But he confirmed police did explore a link between Kissel and Mr Del Priore at the start of their investigation, and found no evidence suggesting any direct link between the Vermont-based TV repairman and the crime.

While police have telephone records showing Kissel talked to Mr Del Priore before and after the November 2003 murder, they have no way of knowing what passed between them.

Immigration records show Mr Del Priore was not in Hong Kong either before or after the murder. "Unless they decide to tell us what was said in those conversations, and in the absence of any direct evidence, there is nothing we can do," Mr Madoc-Jones said.

William Kissel, Robert's father, said there was no doubt in his mind that Mr Del Priore played a role. "It is all there in the evidence and in the interview in the South China Morning Post," Mr Kissel said. Mr Del Priore's brother Lance recalled telling his brother: "You must have had something to do with this."

The killing shocked Hong Kong and many found the trial enthralling.

Kissel's lurid defence - that her husband was addicted to cocaine, drank heavily, beat her and persistently demanded rough sex, and that his actions drove her to kill him - made headlines around the world. She pleaded not guilty to murder but a jury of seven found her guilty at the end of the near three-month-long trial and Mr Justice Michael Lunn imposed a mandatory life sentence.

Kissel's legal team are considering whether to file an appeal against her conviction for murder and life sentence.

Update 29th September

* Bloomberg: Nancy Kissel appeals murder conviction, lawyer says.

Nancy Kissel, jailed for life early this month for the murder of her wealthy banker husband, yesterday lodged an appeal against the High Court ruling.

It is understood the grounds of the appeal are extensive, encompassing a number of the rulings during the course of the three-month trial. It will also challenge the summing up of the evidence and the directions given to the jury by the trial's judge, Mr Justice Michael Lunn.

The High Court confirmed that the papers were yesterday filed by the firm of Kissel's solicitor, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, but there were no further details. The prosecution said Kissel, 41, drugged Robert Peter Kissel, a senior Merrill Lynch banker, with a sedatives-laced milkshake before bludgeoning him with a heavy metal ornament in their luxury Parkview flat in November 2, 2003. His body was found rolled up in an old carpet in a storeroom in the Tai Tam complex. Michigan-born Kissel admitted killing her husband but argued she acted in self-defence after he threatened to kill her and take away their three children.

A jury of seven unanimously found her guilty of murder on September 1. Mr Justice Lunn sentenced her to life, as required by law. Kissel is now imprisoned in the Tai Lam Centre for Women in Tuen Mun.

The hearing of the appeal is expected to begin in about nine months at the Court of Appeal.

Meanwhile, the custody hearing over the three Kissel children between Jane Clayton, the victim's sister, and Hayley Kissel, his sister-in-law, will begin later this week in New York City. The children, who are under temporary custody of Hayley Kissel, will inherit up to US$18 million from their father's estate.

October 5th


Nancy Kissel is to be consulted in her Hong Kong prison cell on the future care of her three young children. This emerged as a judge in the United States denied an application for emergency guardianship by a sister of Kissel's slain husband, Robert.

Judge Eve Preminger urged relatives to try to settle differences over custody of the children in the next two weeks. She said she also wanted input from Kissel, 41, who is serving a life sentence in Tai Lam prison for murdering her husband. Judge Preminger admitted she was likely to give custody to Robert Kissel's sister, Jane Clayton, whose lawyer had sought the emergency guardianship order.

The children - Elaine, Hannah and Reis - are now staying at the Greenwich, Connecticut, home of Ms Clayton's brother Andrew and his estranged wife, Hayley, whose once prosperous household is collapsing under the strain of fraud charges that could leave Mr Kissel unable to provide for the children.

"All things being equal I would like to have a period limited to two weeks to obtain the information from Nancy Kissel and to ensure that there is a professional psychiatric evaluation of the children," Judge Preminger said at a hearing in the Manhattan Surrogate's Court in New York.

Ms Clayton's lawyer Randy Mastro - who had earlier described the children's situation as an emergency - toned down his stance on Monday but called for a swift resolution in his client's favour.

"That household has a lot of problems and these kids have been through a lot," he said.

The input from Kissel will be decisive for the children's future.

"She has a say," said lawyer Nat Dershowitz, who acts for Hayley Kissel. "She is the natural mother - she is the only one who has a say as to who takes care of her children."

The custody battle over the children, aged five, eight and 11 - who stand to inherit their father's fortune, estimated to total US$18 million - is the latest twist in a saga that first saw them shunted from Hong Kong to stay with their maternal grandfather in Illinois.

They moved into the luxury home of Andrew and Hayley Kissel after he won temporary custody.

Eighteen months on, however, the children look set to leave the retreat which shielded them from events in Hong Kong, according to Mr Mastro and Michael Collesano, a lawyer appointed by Judge Preminger to look after the children's interests. Mr Collesano also advocates Ms Clayton be granted custody.

Andrew Kissel is confined to his home after being bailed on the fraud charges. His wife is seeking a divorce.

October 20th

* The Standard: Victim's sister appointed guardian of Kissel children.

An American judge who had sought Nancy Kissel's view on the future of her children has declared the convicted murderer's opinion worthless and ordered the two girls and a boy be moved from the custody of one aunt to another. Overruling a strong written plea from Kissel for the children to stay with Hayley Kissel, estranged wife of the brother of slain banker Robert Kissel, Surrogate Judge Eve Preminger awarded guardianship to Jane Clayton, the banker's sister.

The New York judge said Nancy Kissel - serving life in jail for killing her husband - was the "lone voice" opposing the move and "would seem to have forfeited my belief in her good judgment based on the actions she was convicted of".

After the ruling, a tearful Mrs Clayton said she was "thrilled with the result", which was in tune with a request in Robert Kissel's will that his sister be made guardian and custodian of the children. Apart from Nancy Kissel, all parties to the protracted battle for custody of the children - heirs to their father's estimated US$15-$18 million fortune - had agreed they should be cared for by Mrs Clayton.

Hayley Kissel, who had temporary custody and had been fighting to keep the children, agreed to act according to whatever was deemed to be in their best interests. The judge had earlier adjourned the case for two weeks, urging the parties to sort out their differences and asking for Nancy Kissel to be consulted.

In her letter to the court yesterday the woman convicted of drugging her husband, then bludgeoning him to death with a heavy ornament in their Parkview flat, pleaded for the children to be spared the pain of another move. "The fact of the matter is my children are not in harm's way emotionally or physically right now," she wrote. "Children understand love. They don't understand change. Loving families don't turn on each other. They support one another."

Calling the assembled lawyers into her chambers for a 35-minute consultation, Judge Preminger announced that Mrs Clayton was the only one now seeking custody and guardianship and so should be named guardian in the best interests of the children. Mrs Clayton will oversee the financial interests, property holdings and legal matters of the three children: Elaine, 11, June, eight, and Reis, five. However, she will not be able to take physical custody of the children immediately. Background checks are needed first, after which a ruling will be made. A hearing is scheduled for November 2.

Michael Collesano, a court-appointed lawyer looking after the children's interests, said: "We are very pleased with the results, which, in my opinion, are in the children's best interests." Mr Collesano had urged that Mrs Clayton be made guardian, citing the potentially damaging environment in Hayley Kissel's once prosperous household, where husband Andrew has been indicted on multimillion-dollar theft charges and she has sought a divorce.

It will be the third move for the children since their father was murdered in November 2003. They first stayed with their maternal grandfather in Illinois, before Andrew and Hayley Kissel were awarded temporary custody.

Since then, Mr Kissel has been indicted on grand larceny charges claiming that he stole US$3.9 million from the Upper East Side co-operative apartment building where he was treasurer for six years and is under house arrest.

Neither Mrs Clayton nor her lawyer would comment on how the delicate task of telling the children about the latest upheaval in their lives would be handled.

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October 05, 2005
The New York Times stole from me

One incredible part of the Kissel case post is the varied comments received from those who are intimately involved with it. While there have been disagreements and accusations, for the most part the discourse has been civilised. Having an open forum for people to express their feelings and comment on the case has added a new dimension to the coverage of the case and it demonstrates the potential of blogs as a new medium.

During the case I made a simple request to the mainstream media who were making use of the site, especially in chasing interviews from commenters on the post. Firstly on August 12th I said the following:

Now would be a good time for me to make a simple request: if members of the media use this archive and/or site to help in their research of the case, I would appreciate an email letting me know of any resulting publication or article.
I followed this up on September 4th with the following:
I repeat a request that any mainstream media account that relies on comments or contacts found via this site please make a reference to this site as the location where that source was found.
It was a simple request for attribution. I was and remain happy for mainstream media to use the site as a reference point on the case. All I ask is the simple courtesy of recognising where these contacts were gathered from, just as the media in question would expect proper attribution and acknowledgement when I or others commented on their articles. I am please to say that some newspapers followed my request, including The Standard. The SCMP obviously obtained interviews and material via this site without attribution, but I let that slide given I was cutting-and-pasting their inaccessable articles into the archive - effectively I called us even.

Just today a friend and reader mentioned that this site was obliquely referenced the the New York Times in an article on September 24th. The full article appears below the jump, but here is the key part:

Lawyers and family members say they believe she is the author of an item posted on the Web earlier this month by an author identified only as H who described seeing to it that her three young charges had the same fun-filled year as her two children: a year packed with sleepovers with friends, music lessons and weekend ski trips. Although it is ''far from a perfect situation,'' the writer wrote, ''they are doing well, all things considered.''

''They wake up to a full breakfast (cooked not by a maid), lunches for five are packed in the morning and we sit down to a family dinner almost every night,'' the writer continued.

The elder niece, according to the posting, went to sleepaway camp this summer, as has been her custom, and the younger two children ''swam in fresh mountain springs, jumped off rocks into beautiful lakes, learned how to knit (sort of), made macramé necklaces and went blazing down the Alpine Slide.''

The NYT article is referring to this September 11th comment by "H". Clearly the NYT reporter, Alison Leigh Cowan, googled the case, came across my post and read through the comments. It is impossible that she did not see the two seperate requests for notifcation and attribution.

I will be sending have sent (see bottom of this post) an email to the NYT editor asking for attribution as was clearly stated. I will be publishing all the correspondence here. I am not asking for money or anything other than recognition. Let's see if it's too much to ask of the New York Times.

Update 17:08: Further to this, all work on this site is protected by a Creative Commons licence: attribution-non commercial-share alike 1.0. The NYT has proken the attribution aspect (You must attribute the work in the manner specified by the author or licensor); they've breached noncommercial (You may not use this work for commercial purposes.). Finally under share alike (If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one.) we are theoretically free to now at least use this article and perhaps the entire NYT under a similar licence.

So much for Times Select.

For 3 Little Millionaires, a Series of Painful Events By ALISON LEIGH COWAN (NYT) 1384 words Published: September 24, 2005

Even in Greenwich, the $15 million to $18 million fortune they stand to inherit stands out as serious money. And yet few would trade places with them. They are 11-, 8- and 5-year-old siblings who have endured nearly as much tragedy in their short lives as the waifs of the Lemony Snicket stories who lurch from crisis to crisis.

Last month, their mother was convicted of killing their father in 2003 at their luxurious Hong Kong home, after he learned of her affair with a television repairman. Their maternal grandfather moved them to Illinois to live with him but changed his mind after two weeks.

Then the rich uncle who gave them refuge at his picture-perfect home in Greenwich was charged with orchestrating a fraud that is punishable by years in prison and could leave him penniless. His wife, the person primarily in charge of taking care of the children in the last year and a half, is seeking a divorce. She has said she would like to keep custody, but must battle creditors to preserve any semblance of the life she has led.

The question, then, of who will raise the three Kissel children, and, not coincidentally, what happens to the money their father left behind, will now be left to the American judicial system. Stamford Superior Court has begun revisiting the issue of temporary custody, and Surrogate's Court in Manhattan, which probated their father's will, is scheduled to take up the larger question of guardianship next Friday.

In the meantime, the squabbling continues, extending a spectacle that began overseas in late 2003 when Nancy Ann Kissel was accused of giving her husband, Robert P. Kissel, a Merrill Lynch executive, a sedative-laced milkshake before clubbing him to death. It spread here with this summer's news that Robert's brother, Andrew M. Kissel, had criminal and marital problems of his own.

Squaring off over custody and guardianship of the children are Andrew's estranged wife, Hayley Wolff Kissel, a former stock analyst on Wall Street, and his sister, Jane Kissel Clayton of Mercer Island, Wash.

Ms. Clayton has criticized the children's current living arrangement as ''bleak and problematic'' and accused her sister-in-law in court of using the children as pawns to solve her own deepening financial woes.

Court records show that the Kissels of Greenwich received $170,000 from Robert P. Kissel's estate last year and are operating under an agreement in which the estate allots $8,000 a month toward the children's food, clothing, travel, sports, gifts and baby sitter, an amount that can rise or fall on the basis of actual expenses. Major outlays like tuition and medical bills are not expected to come from that but are paid directly by the estate.

''Hayley has represented to me that her and Andrew's legal problems have left her in a desperate financial situation and that she intends to fight for custody of Robbie's children -- even though she admits that it is not in their best interests to remain with her -- in order to benefit from their considerable assets,'' Ms. Clayton wrote in an affidavit.

Though Hayley Kissel petitioned for divorce earlier this year and is now embroiled in civil litigation stemming from Andrew's ill-fated deals, she seems prepared to do battle over the three children, Elaine, June and Reis, as well.
She notified Stamford Superior Court last month that she was interested in remaining responsible for the children despite her own changed circumstances. Without disclosing much detail about the tumult in her life, she wrote, ''I take my role as custodian very seriously, care deeply for the welfare of the Kissel children and am happy to continue as temporary custodian.''

Lawyers and family members say they believe she is the author of an item posted on the Web earlier this month by an author identified only as H who described seeing to it that her three young charges had the same fun-filled year as her two children: a year packed with sleepovers with friends, music lessons and weekend ski trips. Although it is ''far from a perfect situation,'' the writer wrote, ''they are doing well, all things considered.''

''They wake up to a full breakfast (cooked not by a maid), lunches for five are packed in the morning and we sit down to a family dinner almost every night,'' the writer continued.

The elder niece, according to the posting, went to sleepaway camp this summer, as has been her custom, and the younger two children ''swam in fresh mountain springs, jumped off rocks into beautiful lakes, learned how to knit (sort of), made macramé necklaces and went blazing down the Alpine Slide.''
Asked about the latest developments, Hayley Kissel's lawyer, Joseph W. Martini, said neither he nor his client would have any further comment.

In an interview, William J. Kissel, the children's paternal grandfather, said that he found the Web posting inappropriate and that he supported his daughter's application for custody and guardianship, citing many of the assertions in Jane Clayton's filings that question Hayley Kissel's motives. ''Better now than later,'' he said.

''Andrew is in deep trouble,'' he said, ''and it wouldn't be appropriate to have the children in a house without a mother and a father, where the wife needs the children to support her lifestyle.''

In her court filings, Ms. Clayton has said that trouble arose in Andrew and Hayley's marriage in July 2004, when Hayley Kissel learned that her husband was having an affair. Ms. Clayton recounted conversations from that period that left her ''deeply worried,'' in which her sister-in-law told her that Andrew's business was a ''Ponzi scheme'' and that one of the reasons they moved to Connecticut was that he ''stole money from their New York City condo'' when they lived in Manhattan.

Though the couple later reconciled, Ms. Clayton stated that she remained concerned about the children's welfare. Those concerns, she wrote, flared anew in the winter, when her sister-in-law resolved to get a divorce and left town without waiting for her elder niece to return from a school trip. Ultimately, a family friend picked the girl up, according to Ms. Clayton.

Ms. Clayton said in court filings that her sister-in-law made it clear at that time she did not need the ''extra stress'' of the additional children, and the two agreed that the children would remain in Connecticut through the school year, and then join Ms. Clayton and her husband, Richard, an executive at Microsoft.
Pressing personal problems are now causing her sister-in-law to renege, Ms. Clayton said. ''Hayley told me that Andrew had leveraged everything, including their house in Vermont, and that he had left her with nothing,'' she wrote.
Citing a conversation she said they had on July 7, Ms. Clayton quoted her sister-in-law as saying: ''I am going to do what is best for myself. If I keep the children, it may not be the best thing for them, but at least I won't be out on the street. I have nothing left.''

Ms. Clayton's lawyer, Randy M. Mastro of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, said in an interview that his client's recollections were based on contemporaneous notes she took of conversations she had with her sister-in-law.

An item in the probate court's files suggests one reason it may be hard to leave the children where they are: the possibility that the estate may have to join a lawsuit against Andrew M. Kissel.

Back in June, Ms. Clayton, a co-executor of her brother's estate, testified during the murder trial that the estate was worth $18 million. That estimate has now been lowered to $15.5 million. Some of that gap can be attributed to investments that Robert Kissel had made in apartment buildings in New Jersey, which Andrew Kissel is now accused of having secretly sold out from under his own partners. That money may now be hard to recover, according to Mr. Mastro.

My letter to the NYT public editor

To whom it may concern:

I write to you regarding an article that appeared in the NYT on September 24th, 2005, by Alison Leigh Cowan, under the headline "For 3 Little Millionaires, a Series of Painful Events". The said article relates to the custody battle for 3 children left parentless after their mother was found guilty of murdering their father in Hong Kong.

I run a Hong Kong weblog called Simon World ( I have been following the murder case throughout its trial and my site has become the number 1 rank in Google for searches for Nancy Kissel, the convicted murderer. As such my site has also become an open forum on the case, with many people intimately related or involved in the case commenting on my site.

During the case I made a simple request to the mainstream media who were making use of the site, especially in chasing interviews from commenters on the post. Firstly on August 12th ( I said the following:

"Now would be a good time for me to make a simple request: if members of the media use this archive and/or site to help in their research of the case, I would appreciate an email letting me know of any resulting publication or article."

I followed this up on September 4th ( with the following:

"I repeat a request that any mainstream media account that relies on comments or contacts found via this site please make a reference to this site as the location where that source was found."

It was a simple request for attribution. I was and remain happy for mainstream media to use the site as a reference point on the case. All I ask is the simple courtesy of recognising where these contacts were gathered from, just as the media in question would expect proper attribution and acknowledgement when I or others commented on their articles. Several newspapers have conducted interviews or gathered leads for stories via my site and have attributed as requested. However I received no notification from the NYT or your reporter of your use of my site in a story.

Ms. Cowan's story clearly references my site in the following excerpt:

"Lawyers and family members say they believe she is the author of an item posted on the Web earlier this month by an author identified only as H who described seeing to it that her three young charges had the same fun-filled year as her two children: a year packed with sleepovers with friends, music lessons and weekend ski trips. Although it is ''far from a perfect situation,'' the writer wrote, ''they are doing well, all things considered.''

''They wake up to a full breakfast (cooked not by a maid), lunches for five are packed in the morning and we sit down to a family dinner almost every night,'' the writer continued.

The elder niece, according to the posting, went to sleepaway camp this summer, as has been her custom, and the younger two children ''swam in fresh mountain springs, jumped off rocks into beautiful lakes, learned how to knit (sort of), made macramé necklaces and went blazing down the Alpine Slide."

The article is referring to a September 11th comment by "H" (

I would ask that your newspaper respect the clearly stated request for attribution. I imagine your paper zealously enforces attribution for those articles used and referenced by others. I am asking your paper does the same for the sources it uses in its articles.

It is my policy that all correspondence is publishable on my site.

If you are not the appropriate area for this correspondence can you please pass it to the relevant parties within the NYT.



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[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 14:50
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August 31, 2005
Nancy Kissel case archive part 4

Covers the trial between August 20th and August 31st.

Other Kissel related material can be found in the Kissel category.

Update August 20th

* The Standard: Expert testifies on porn site search

A dozen curious children made an appearance at Nancy Kissel's murder trial yesterday as a computer forensic expert explained how the defence came to suggest Kissel's husband had searched for homosexual and pornographic websites.
But the visit by the children, aged from six to 10, was cut short after defence counsel Alexander King SC asked Mr Justice Michael Lunn for a morning break five minutes earlier than usual when the group filed into the courtroom. He went to the public gallery to explain to the social worker taking the children on their first tour of the High Court that the material they would hear was not suitable for children.

Kissel, 41, is accused of bludgeoning top Merrill Lynch banker Robert Peter Kissel to death after drugging him with a sedatives-laced milkshake in their luxury Parkview flat on November 2, 2003.

She has admitted killing her husband but has pleaded not guilty to murder. She has told the court in her testimony that she had been subjected to sexual and physical assaults by her husband for years.

Benedict Pasco, the defence's computer forensic expert, was asked yesterday by Mr King if there was any danger of pop-ups or cookies for surfers of porn websites. The witness said it was very easy for those websites to scan the users' information, know when they were online, and then offer them certain images. Defence evidence had earlier suggested Kissel's daughter had seen pop-ups of pornographic images on a computer at home.

Using up-to-date forensic technology to trace internet use, Mr Pasco and his team had earlier rebuilt websites allegedly searched by the deceased on a computer and a laptop seized from the Parkview flat. The findings showed that Google searches on subjects such as "gay sex", "anal sex", "wife is a bitch", "Twinks", and "Paris gay massage" had been conducted on the computers.

In cross-examination by prosecutor Peter Chapman, Mr Pasco said he received instructions from Kissel's solicitor's firm on the keywords he had to search for. "Tell us the general areas the keywords covered?" asked the prosecutor. "They primarily focused on the homosexual area," said Mr Pasco, who added that the keywords also included "custody", "divorce", "father" and "children".

Update August 23rd

* The Standard: Trial Refocuses on Porn Searches
* SCMP: Kissel Defense Rests, Final Witness Not Called

The defence counsel for Nancy Kissel closed his case unexpectedly yesterday after he finished his re-examination of a computer forensics expert in the Court of First Instance.

Alexander King SC said there would be no more defence witnesses after Benedict Pasco testified on his findings of alleged internet searches for pornography and homosexual websites by Kissel's husband, Robert Peter Kissel.

Mr King had never indicated in court the number of witnesses he would be calling.

Mr Justice Michael Lunn told the jury they would hear the final chapter of evidence today, when the prosecution gave rebuttal evidence on the roles of the baseball bat and the metal ornament seized from the Kissels' Parkview flat.

Kissel told the court earlier that her husband used the bat to beat her in their bedroom on November 2, 2003, the day she allegedly murdered him. She said she used a metal ornament to defend herself and recalled that one of the two figurines on the ornament flew off when the deceased struck the metal base with the bat.

But the prosecution says Kissel dealt five fatal blows to the head of the senior Merrill Lynch banker after drugging him with a sedative-laced milkshake. Kissel has admitted killing her husband but has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Prosecutor Peter Chapman and Mr King are expected to begin their final submissions towards the end of this week.

Mr Justice Lunn asked the jury to remove from their trial papers a report by Olaf Drummer, the defence's forensic expert from Australia, after Mr King indicated the expert would not be called to testify. The report contradicts some of the findings of the prosecution's forensic expert on the drug contents of Robert Kissel's stomach and liver.

The judge also told the seven jurors he would seek to double their allowance because of the length of the trial.

In cross-examination of Mr Pasco, computer forensic expert of PGI Consultants, Mr Chapman pointed out that the witness' findings showed "porn-dialler" software had been installed in a desktop computer in Kissel's flat on September 14, 2002, and April 23, 2003. The software allowed the user to dial up pornographic websites at high charging rates.

Mr Chapman showed Mr Pasco travel records that showed the deceased was out of Hong Kong during the two installation periods.

"Whoever is responsible for installing the software ... cannot be Robert Kissel," he suggested.

The witness agreed.

Mr Chapman said Mr Pasco's investigations covered internet use between January 2002 and November 2003. He asked him how many days in that period of almost two years he could find material relevant to porn site searches. Mr Pasco said about three hours over two days. He also agreed that he had no idea whether the user was the deceased or a house guest.

In re-examination of Mr Pasco, Mr King said there were a large number of similarities between the subjects searched on the desktop computer and those searched for on the deceased's laptop. Both computers had been used to search for "anal sex" and "anal sex in Taiwan". The witness agreed. Mr King pointed out that travel records showed the deceased went to Taiwan for a three-day trip on April 8, 2003. He suggested the user of the desktop computer appeared to be searching on April 4 and 5 for sex services in Taiwan.

Mr King also read out a large number of Google keywood searches for porn sites on the laptop. The witness agreed that some of those websites were viewed.

Update August 24th

* The Standard: Baseball Bat Evidence in Question
* SCMP: Experts Cast Doubt on Kissel Claims Over Bat

A baseball bat Nancy Kissel claims her husband beat her with on the day he died did not carry his DNA, nor had it been used to strike forcefully the ornament she claims to have used in self-defence, government forensic scientists testified yesterday.

Pang Chi-ming, a DNA-typing expert recalled by the prosecution to give evidence in rebuttal yesterday, said he could only find an unidentified woman's DNA on the bat handle. He also told jurors in the Court of First Instance he could find no bloodstains on the bat.

Kissel, 41, had earlier told the court that Robert Peter Kissel had beaten her with the bat in the master bedroom of their flat in Parkview, Tai Tam, on November 2, 2003, after telling her he had filed for divorce.

She claimed she had used a metal ornament to fend off blows from the bat. Prosecutor Peter Chapman has told the court that Kissel used the 3.7kg ornament to deal five fatal blows to her husband's head after drugging him with a sedatives-laced milkshake.

In cross-examination, Alexander King SC, for Kissel, asked Dr Pang: "Would you agree that not everyone who touches the end of the baseball bat leaves DNA material detectable to tests?"

The witness replied: "I can say a light touch with my fingertip on the microphone may not leave my DNA behind. But if I grab it tight and keep moving it here and there, I ... believe DNA would ... be left."

The defence counsel asked if DNA traces could stay on the bat for six months. Mr Pang said it depended where the article was kept.

"Are you saying that in the history of that bat, only one person has ever held the handle?" asked the counsel. "I did not say that," the witness replied. He agreed when asked by Mr King if he was informed by police that the bat would not be tested for fingerprints.

Kissel admits killing her husband, a banker with Merrill Lynch, but pleads not guilty to his murder.

Forensic scientist Wong Koon-hung, another prosecution witness recalled to give rebuttal evidence yesterday, said the ornament was made of almost pure lead, a relatively soft metal that would leave traces even on a piece of paper after contact. "Therefore I would expect to find some lead smear on the bat had they been in contact. But I found none," he said.

Neither did he find lead traces on a white pillow case in which the bat was kept for a time after being found in the flat by defence solicitor Simon Clark. The exhibit was handed by the defence to the prosecution in court a month ago for the government laboratory to perform tests.

There were no traces of paint from the bat on the ornament.

"There has also been a suggestion that the curvature of the [ornament] base was caused by impacts of the baseball bat on the base. Did you conduct further tests?" asked Mr Chapman.

The expert said the indentations on the base measured 1.4cm and 1.8cm respectively. Dr Wong said two baseball bats were used in control experiments to hit two pieces of 2kg lead sheet at a 90-degree angle, resulting in maximum indentations of between 1.4cm and 2cm.

The strikes also produced an arc of regular V-shaped curvature on the sheets, with wood grain pattern on the deepest part of the groove. Lead smear was left on the surface of the bats. But the shape of the ornament base was "too irregular" to have been produced by the impact of the bat admitted as evidence, said the forensic expert.

He was not able to suggest what had produced the indentation shapes on the ornament.

Dr Wong told the court that he could not rule out the possibility the bat had been in contact with the metal ornament. But he said: "It's conclusive that the piece of metal had not been struck with the baseball bat with significant force.

"To cause that level of damage would require quite a significant force. Under such force, I would expect at least some wood grain pattern pertaining to the bat on the metal ornament."

In cross-examination, Mr King asked Dr Wong how many pieces of lead sheet he had used. He said he had three lead sheets with him and explained that he had hammered the pieces flat for further tests if he was not satisfied with the results.

The defence counsel said that meant the witness had destroyed results of earlier tests, and argued that any wood grain residue left on the lead sheets when they were struck with the bats could have been hammered out.

Mr King asked for the other lead sheets used in Dr Wong's tests to be brought to court for examination.

The case continues today.

Update August 25th

* The Standard: Expert denies methods flawed
* SCMP:Kissel defence challenges bat tests

The defence sought to cast doubt yesterday on a government forensic scientist's findings that the baseball bat Nancy Kissel said her husband beat her with had never been used to strike forcefully a lead ornament she claimed to have used in self-defence.

Alexander King SC suggested in the Court of First Instance that Wong Koon-hung was too anxious to find a basis to support the prosecution's argument that he had failed to consider potential flaws in his tests.

Kissel, 41, had earlier told the court she was beaten by Robert Peter Kissel, a senior Merrill Lynch banker, in their Parkview bedroom on November 2, 2003. She has admitted killing him but pleaded not guilty to murdering him.

Dr Wong had been asked early this month to find out if the arch in the base of the 3.7kg ornament was caused by blows from the bat. He said on Tuesday his tests, using 2kg lead sheets and two baseball bats, found no evidence of contact between the two objects.

Mr King asked if Dr Wong had tested the hardness of the lead sheets and the bats against the exhibits in the trial. Dr Wong said he had made the attempt, but the objects were too soft for hardness tests with the equipment in the government laboratory. Mr King asked if he had asked for funds to buy suitable equipment. He had not, because of time constraints.

Dr Wong also had not tested the type of wood the bats were made from. "Was there any reason?" Mr King asked. "Because I was more interested in general overall appearance of bats and their weight," Dr Wong replied. He agreed with Mr King that different wood could have different hardness.

Mr King pointed out the base of the ornament was 1.7cm thick, while the lead plates used in the experiments were about 25 per cent thinner. The bat in evidence, 67cm long and weighing 689g, was heavier and shorter than those used in the experiments.

Dr Wong said the ornament - a base of 15cm x 8.5cm surmounted by two figurines - was more resistant to bending, compared to the flat lead sheets he tested. Mr King asked why he had not had lead ingots made for the experiments. "I did inquire. But again, there's a time factor involved," he said, adding that the making of ingots could be dangerous because lead emitted toxic fumes when melted.

The witness was criticised by Mr King on Tuesday for destroying earlier experiment results by hammering the lead back to its original shape for further tests. He said yesterday it was not the lab's practice to photograph every test result.

Mr King also questioned Dr Wong about the discrepancy between the conclusions written by him and his superior in his police statement of August 5, 2005. He said Dr Wong's drafted conclusion was that "the baseball bat in the case had not been in contact with any of the metallic objects". But his superior's conclusion, which replaced Dr Wong's drafted conclusion on the statement, was that contact between the two objects could not be totally excluded.

"However, [the findings] indicated that the ornament base had not been struck by the bat with a significant force. Otherwise, impression marks showing wood grain patterns of the bat would likely be found on the metal," the superior wrote.

Mr King said: "Let me suggest to you that you were anxious to provide the police with some basis upon which the prosecution could argue in some way that the baseball bat never came into contact with the ornament." Dr Wong said the conclusion was based on his findings and discussion with his superior. "Anxious is a very subjective view. I knew I had to provide some results at a given time. But I was not anxious," he said.

In re-examination by prosecutor Peter Chapman, Dr Wong stressed he stood by the conclusion on his statement. He said he would expect to see some lead smear on the bat if it had struck the ornament. But he could find none.

Dr Wong said there was no wood paint left on the lead sheets he struck with the bats in his experiments - one of them painted, the other varnished. "It would never leave paint anyway, because there was no paint to leave," Mr Chapman said, in reference to the varnished one.

Mr Chapman will begin his closing submission tomorrow.

Update August 27th

* The Standard: Kissel case nears end
* SCMP: Prosecution gives closing argument in murder trial

A prosecutor gave his closing argument on Friday in an American housewife's murder trial, saying she was a cold-blooded killer who cheated on her wealthy husband before serving him a drug-laced milkshake and bashing in his head.

Speaking in a packed courtroom, prosecutor Peter Chapman rehashed much of the sensational testimony about alleged domestic violence, abusive sex, drug use and infidelity in Nancy and Robert Kissel's stormy marriage.

The nearly three-month trial has given the public a rare glimpse into the private world of wealthy expatriates.

Mr Chapman challenged the defense's argument that Nancy Kissel, 41, was defending herself against her violent banker husband who was armed with a baseball bat.

The lawyer said that the woman had planned the killing in the couple's luxury apartment in 2003.

"There was no provocation, no baseball bat," Mr Chapman said. "This is a cold-blooded killing."

Nancy Kissel allegedly beat her husband to death with a metal ornament.

"These injuries inflicted on Robert Kissel were not the result of a life-or-death struggle," he said. "There was no shouting, yelling, screaming."

Nancy Kissel has admitted dealing the fatal blows to her husband, a 40-year-old investment banker at Merrill Lynch. But she has pleaded innocent to murder, which involves premeditation.

Mr Chapman argued that the defendant planned the killing. He said she searched the internet for information about how to drug her husband.

Before the killing, she mixed Robert Kissel a milkshake laced with sedatives that disabled him, the prosecutor said.

After the killing, Nancy Kissel allegedly rolled her husband's body in a carpet and had maintenance workers haul it away to storage space rented by the couple.

The prosecutor also mentioned an affair that Nancy Kissel, who has three children, admitted to having with repairman Michael Del Priore, who lived in a trailer park near the couple's vacation home in the northeastern US state of Vermont.

"Nancy Kissel didn't want Robert Kissel alive anymore. She wanted the children, but Michael Del Priore was the man in her life," Mr Chapman said.

The prosecutor repeated testimony by witnesses, who said the victim was a loving, kind, soft-spoken husband who was well regarded by his company.

Nancy Kissel, dressed in black as she has been for much of the trial, was expressionless and often looked down at the floor as she listened to Mr Chapman's closing argument.

She has said her desperation and unhappiness in her marriage drove her to seek comfort in an affair, and that her husband was an abusive workaholic who used cocaine, drank too much and forced her to have anal sex.

She has testified that she cannot clearly remember what she did after her husband's death.

The victim was from New York. Nancy Kissel was born in Adrian, Michigan, but her family had also lived in Minneapolis, in the northern US state of Minnesota.

Update August 29th

* CNN:'Milkshake Murder' Trial Nears End
* The Standard: Moment of Truth Nears for Kissel

Update August 30th

* The Standard: Defence says police probe was 'substandard'
* The Standard: Prosecution case a farce
* SCMP: Kissel killed husband in self-defence, then 'melted down', says counsel

Nancy Kissel was "in fear for her life" as she beat her husband to death with a lead statue after he threatened to kill her, her lawyer told the Court of First Instance yesterday.

The defendant "melted down" after the trauma, leading her into a series of bizarre acts, including sleeping with her husband's body for at least two nights and calling his mobile phone twice, Alexander King SC said in his closing speech.

Mr King, who urged the jury to acquit Kissel of murder, argued that she had acted in lawful self-defence in the killing in November 2, 2003.

He said the prosecution, which alleged Nancy Kissel drugged her husband with a milkshake before dealing him five fatal blows, had failed to prove its case beyond doubt. It was the first time the defence had outlined its case since the trial began in early June.

Mr King said the fateful events were sparked when Robert Kissel, armed with a baseball bat, told his wife that he had filed for divorce and would be taking their three children.

"This was payback time. He was going to finally tell her that he was divorcing her, not her divorcing him. He had controlled every other aspect of her life. The one thing left in her life was her children," he said.

At the sight of the bat, the accused grabbed the lead heirloom from the dining room to protect herself. She was then dragged into the bedroom, where her husband demanded sex.

During the struggle, the deceased sat on his bed and found his forehead bleeding.

"Robert Kissel had never been hit before by his wife. It's always been him doing the beating. At that time, he lost his temper. He said: `I am going to f***ing kill you ... you f***ing bitch'," Mr King said.

He asked the jury to consider the shape of the injuries to Robert Kissel's head, which he said matched the curved shape of the ornament's damaged base. The defence contends that the base of the ornament arched up when Robert Kissel hit it with the baseball bat.

In his closing speech last Friday, prosecutor Peter Chapman argued that Nancy Kissel, 41, harboured a murderous intent because she had dealt five fatal blows to her husband's head.

But Mr King said adrenaline and fear had taken over his client as she flung the ornament at her husband.

"In the middle of a fight, how could someone of Mrs Kissel's size turn around, make sure that her husband didn't get up again" before deciding to deal further blows, he said.

The body of the senior Merrill Lynch banker was found on November 7, 2003, rolled up in a carpet in a storeroom at the luxury Parkview estate where the family lived.

Mr King described the banker as a paranoid and manipulative husband, who abused cocaine and subjected his wife to frequent sexual and physical assaults.

He suggested that Nancy Kissel had suffered from dissociative amnesia after the killing.

"Her behaviour could almost be described as bizarre. She almost went on living as if nothing had happened," he said.

Mr King said Nancy Kissel had not asked Parkview workmen to carry her husband's body to the storeroom until November 5, 2003.

"She must have spent at least two nights in her bedroom with the body. It shows that what happened afterwards was she melted down," he said.

* SCMP: Prosecution theory of a Kissel plot defies belief - defence
The allegation that Nancy Kissel had been plotting to murder her husband with a sedatives-laced milkshake defied common sense, the Court of First Instance was told yesterday.

Alexander King SC, in his closing address for the defence, argued there was nothing to indicate that Robert Peter Kissel was under the influence of drugs on the afternoon of November 2, 2003, shortly before he was killed by his wife.

He said closed-circuit television stills at their luxury Parkview estate showed he was "multi-tasking" at about 5pm, talking on his mobile phone, carrying a newspaper and pressing lift buttons with ease.

Prosecutor Peter Chapman alleges that at about 3.30pm that day, the deceased and his neighbour, Andrew Tanzer, had been served two tall glasses of pink milkshake laced with four hypnotics - Stilnox, Rohypnol, Axotal and Lorivan - and an anti-depressant, amitriptyline.

Mr Tanzer's wife, Kazuko Ouchi, told the court earlier that her husband had passed out on the couch when he returned home from the Kissel apartment at 4pm and that later he had bizarrely treated himself to three tubs of ice cream at dinner.

A close colleague of the deceased, David Noh, said the senior Merrill Lynch banker sounded "slurry, mellow" and was "off the tangent" when he spoke to him on the phone at about 5pm.

But Mr King told the court the best evidence was the two witnesses who saw the deceased that afternoon. David Friedland, who met the victim with his son, Reis, in the Parkview playroom, gave "no evidence of slurred speech". Maximina Macaraeg, a maid at the Kissel home, also met him around that time at the car park and did not detect anything unusual.

"Nancy Kissel wasn't building up to this day in order to kill him," Mr King said, adding that the prosecution's case "defies common sense".

Kissel, 41, has admitted killing her husband but has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Mr King reminded the jury that Kissel had a photo shoot for her friend Samantha Kriegel's family on the morning of November 2. Kissel had also arranged to meet up with Scott Ligertwood, a popular children's entertainer, on November 4. She was also working on the annual dinner of the United Jewish Congregation and promotion of the November 16 dance performance in which her daughter had a role. Mr King said those events went against the theory of premeditation.

He argued that the foundation of the prosecution's allegations that Kissel killed her husband for money and to be with her lover in Vermont in the United States, Michael Del Priore, was weak. It would take a very long time for anybody to get their hands on the money from New York Life Insurance, which kept the deceased's US$18 million in wills and insurance policies, he said. "Their investigation would be a lot more thorough than the investigation of the police in this case," he said.

Kissel could have stayed behind in Vermont instead of returning to Hong Kong in 2003 if she wanted to be with what the prosecution said was "the new man in her life".

Mr King said Kissel's "loss of memory" after November 2, 2003, was genuine and accorded with her "bizarre" acts in the cover-up of the killing.

He said she told friends and her father, Ira Keeshin, many different versions of what happened to her husband. Some were told that her husband was "very, very sick", while some heard he had assaulted her during an argument before checking into a hotel.

"She got rid of the body on Wednesday probably because her father was coming that night, and the body began to smell," he said. The candles her father saw in the apartment were probably put there to clear away the smell, Mr King said.

The placing of four brightly coloured cushions on top of the carpet roll in which her husband's body lay was also "entirely bizarre".

Mr King's closing submission continues today.

Update August 31st

* The Standard: Judge spells out options to jury as trial nears end
* The Standard: 'No cold-blooded killer'
* SCMP: Were blows reasonable or excessive. judge asks Kissel jury

The judge in the trial of Nancy Ann Kissel said yesterday the jury had to consider whether the force she used to deal the five fatal blows to her husband's head was "reasonable" or "in excess" when deciding whether she is guilty of murder.

Mr Justice Michael Lunn told jurors in the Court of First Instance they had to be sure the injuries Kissel inflicted on Robert Peter Kissel, a senior Merrill Lynch banker, were intended to kill or cause grievous bodily harm to satisfy one of the conditions for a murder verdict.

Recalling evidence, he said forensic experts identified five curved lacerations on the upper right side of the deceased's head, with fractured skull driven into the brain, causing "massive spillage of brain substance". "Did the defendant believe it was necessary to use force to defend herself? If yes, was the amount of force she used reasonable?" he said.

Defence counsel Alexander King SC said Kissel, 41, was attacked by her husband with a baseball bat as he was attempting to force anal sex on her in their Parkview flat on the night of November 2, 2003. He argued she had acted lawfully when she swung a heavy lead ornament in self-defence.

Mr Justice Lunn reminded the jury that Mr King had argued Kissel had reacted "on the spur of the moment" as her husband said "I will f***ing kill you" in the bedroom of their flat. He described the victim, 180cm tall and 69kg, as "well-built" and "athletic". By contrast, Kissel was a "slightly built female".

However, the judge reminded jurors that forensic pathologist Lau Ming-fai said each of the five blows "required a great amount of force" and that there was no self-defence injuries on his upper limbs, which led him to conclude he had "little or no motion at the time the blows were dealt to his head". If the force used was unreasonable, Kissel could not be acquitted on the basis of self-defence, the judge said.

Mr Justice Lunn also directed jurors to consider a reduced verdict of manslaughter by reason of provocation if they believed the conduct of the victim had caused Kissel to "suddenly and temporarily lose her self-control".

The judge repeated Kissel's claim that she had been physically and sexually abused by her husband for five years, resulting in broken ribs, bruises and a black eye on different occasions. Kissel had also testified about the bedroom struggle with her husband on November 2 after he told her he had filed for divorce and was taking their three children, he said.

If the jury did not believe the killing was provoked by the victim's conduct, the verdict would be guilty of murder, he said. But if the victim's conduct could "cause the defendant of such age and sex to do what she did", a verdict of manslaughter would be returned.

He said jurors could consider Kissel's good character and years of aid to the United Jewish Congregation, Hong Kong International School and deprived children of Vietnam when considering the credibility of her evidence. "If you think self-defence may be true, you may acquit," he said.

He instructed jurors to consider the credibility of oral testimony by its consistency. An example he gave was the evidence of Kissel's father, Ira Keeshin, who said in his police statement his daughter told him in a phone call on November 3, 2003, that her husband had slammed her into a wall in 2002. But in court last month, he said he had heard about the assault in 2002. Asked by prosecutor Peter Chapman, he accepted his oral testimony was incorrect.

Mr Justice Lunn drew the jury's attention to conflicting versions of the events of November 2 given by Kissel to the court, her father, friends and a colleague of her husband, but added there could be innocent reasons, such as panic or confusion.

Earlier yesterday, Mr King told the jury in his closing submission they should not consider a verdict of manslaughter by provocation. He argued that Kissel acted in lawful self-defence and was entitled to be acquitted of murder.

Kissel wept in the dock as her lawyer outlined the case.

Mr King said the victim was not rendered unconscious or severely impaired after he and his neighbour Andrew Tanzer drank a milkshake prepared by Kissel on November 2. He said the amount of drugs found in his body was insufficient. The banker was talking on his mobile and walking around in Parkview when Mr Tanzer, who passed out on his couch about 4pm, was severely affected, he said.

"Evidence all points to the direction that he didn't receive the same dose as Mr Tanzer," said Mr King.

The lawyer said Kissel did not ask for the sedatives Rohypnol, Lorivan and Stilnox and anti-depressant amitriptyline during her several visits to clinics shortly before November 2; they were prescribed to her by her doctors.

He said the video recorded by Rocco Gatta, a private investigator hired by Robert Kissel to follow his wife in Vermont, had no sign of Kissel's lover, Michael Del Priore. He said it showed nothing other than a "beautiful countryside", a "very expensive home" and a van parked at the house at night several times.

Mr King criticised the government's bloodstain pattern analysis experts for missing a large number of blood spots and not looking for the extent of cleaning up of the blood in their investigation.

Mr Justice Lunn continues his directions to the jury today.

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[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 19:17
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August 17, 2005
Nancy Kissel case archive part 3

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

Other Kissel related material can be found in the Kissel category.

Update August 5th

* ESWN: Nancy Kissel case part 37

The last thing Nancy Kissel remembers about the day she allegedly bludgeoned her husband to death is him bloodied and bearing down on her with a baseball bat as she held a statue to her face, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.

Minutes earlier, Robert Peter Kissel had told her he had filed for divorce, Kissel told the court.

The 41-year-old, trembling and weeping most of the time on her third day on the witness stand, said she could recall nothing more about events in and around the family's flat in Parkview, Tai Tam, on November 2, 2003, nor what happened afterwards - including a trip to Aberdeen to buy a rug from furniture store Tequila Kola and a series of activities the prosecution says she embarked on to cover up her husband's killing. Kissel has pleaded not guilty to murder.

She remembered making a milkshake with her children and a neighbour's daughter which the children then served to her husband, a top Merrill Lynch banker, and their neighbour Andrew Tanzer. The next recollection she had was of cleaning the kitchen while her husband was yelling at her.

Kissel, who is accused of drugging the deceased with a sedatives-laced milkshake before smashing in his skull with a heavy metal statue, said her husband had asked if she was listening, then told her: "I've filed for divorce. I am taking the kids."

I said: "What do you mean, that you are filing for divorce?"

She said he replied: "No, that's not what I said ... If you had listened, you would have heard what I said ... I have filed for divorce and I am taking the kids. That is a done deal."

He also said he had told his lawyers she was sick and unfit to take care of their children.

She recalled looking at her husband when he was standing at the doorway of the master bedroom with a baseball bat, which he told her was "for protection" in case she got "mad".

Demonstrating to the jurors with her hands, Kissel said the deceased started tapping the bat in his hand.

She paced back and forth in the hallway and "kept thinking about the bat", before picking up a metal statue from the dining room and walking back into the bedroom.

She said her husband smacked her face and grabbed her arm after she waved her finger in his face. She fell, dropping the statue.

"He pulled me into the room, pulled me onto the bed ... and started to have sex with me," she said. "I started kicking him. We ended up on the floor." Kissel said she reached for the statue on the floor and swung her arm back. "I didn't even look and I thought I hit something," she said. She turned around and saw her husband sitting near the closet, bleeding. "I tried to help him up and he wouldn't let me ... he pulled himself up ... touched his head and he saw it's bleeding." Beginning to tremble, she said he told her: "I am going to ****ing kill you." He kept hitting her knees with the bat and she swung back with the statue. "He kept saying: `I am going to kill you, you bitch'."

"I ended up on the floor and he moved on top with the bat ... in his hand ... He came down on me as I was holding the statue in front of my face," she said in a weak voice. Unable to carry on, Kissel sat, trembling and wordless, for almost a minute, the stares of all in the court fixed on her face. Finally, she said: "I can't remember."

"Can you tell me any more about this fight?" her counsel, Alexander King SC, asked. Kissel sat shaking for another half-minute, unable to give a reply.

"When was the last recollection of [what happened] between your husband and yourself in the bedroom on that day?" The defendant, trembling and shaking her head, replied: "I remember just being on the floor next to the bed."

"You know your husband had five injuries on his head, each of which could be fatal. Any recollection of that?" asked the counsel. "No," she replied.

"The master bedroom had been cleaned up in a number of ways. What recollections do you have of doing that?" asked Mr King. "I don't remember," she said. She also said she did not remember where her husband's body was on November 2, or if she had taken any of the sleeping pills or anti-depressants she had been prescribed.

The defendant was asked to identify a number of images taken from CCTV footage, which showed her numerous times in the lift and car park at Parkview starting from the early morning of Monday November 3, 2003. The photos also depicted her dragging a suitcase, and carrying a rug on her shoulder. "I don't remember Monday," she said. She said she recalled driving her car downhill at about 2am on Monday but had no idea where she went. She also remembered working that morning but could not recall sending the e-mails she had sent.

"When did you have your first realisation that your husband was dead?" asked Mr King. The defendant said "bits and pieces" only started coming back to her six months after she was admitted to Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre. "I started to remember things, images, and just pieces of things that didn't really make sense to me."

The case continues today before Mr Justice Michael Lunn.

Update August 6th

* ESWN has an excellent ongoing collection of links to local and international press coverage: Nancy Kissel case Part 38. Read the end of ESWN's report for some more detailed, albeit unpublished, reports from the trial.

Nancy Kissel yesterday admitted she killed her husband after inflicting multiple injuries to his head with a metal ornament. But she could not recall why her father appeared at their luxury Parkview home, or her reporting to police that her husband had beaten her up - events that took place in the four days following the alleged murder.

Prosecutor Peter Chapman began his cross-examination of Kissel in the Court of First Instance by asking her: "Do you accept that you killed Robert Kissel?" She replied: "Yes." Mr Chapman asked if she agreed she had used the metal ornament - identified by her yesterday - to inflict the injuries on Robert Peter Kissel as shown on a diagram drawn by the prosecution's pathologist. "Yes," she said. The pathologist said earlier that he found five potentially fatal wounds on the right side of the deceased's brain.

Mr Chapman sought to cast doubt on Kissel's allegations that her husband had sexually and physically assaulted her since they arrived in Hong Kong in 1998. He asked if she had ever screamed out during her husband's episodes of sexual violence, which left her with broken ribs and bleeding from the anus. "I cried a lot. I may have [screamed]," she replied.

"Did anyone ever hear you in your household, Mrs Kissel, in those five years?" he asked. "I don't know... A lot of times, I just cried," she said, adding that her two Filipino maids, who lived in the flat, would be off-duty after 7pm. "Did you ever consider going ... to your friends to say I can't take it any more?" Mr Chapman asked. "No... People hear what they wanted to hear," she said. Mr Chapman asked if she had ever sought medical attention for the bleeding and injuries caused by anal sex allegedly forced on her by her husband. She said she had not because "it's humiliating".

Asked if her husband had used condoms during sex, she said no. Mr Chapman then asked if she knew whether Robert had slept with other women and had anal sex with them during his frequent business trips in Asia. "No," she replied. Reminding her that one of her close friends in New York had died of sexually transmitted Aids, Mr Chapman asked why she did not go for a check-up. She said they had a check for HIV when they married and she did not believe her husband would be an Aids carrier.

The prosecutor asked if Kissel had told a psychiatrist her husband was expelled from high school for using drugs. She said yes. Kissel said on Wednesday she had to pay for Robert's studies and cocaine when living in New York. But yesterday she said she did not know how much she had paid for the drug because she was paying for a variety of things.

Asked if she had seen Robert with a supply of cocaine in Hong Kong, the accused said: "I have never seen bags, mostly bottles." Mr Chapman asked which of the prosecution witnesses' evidence she disputed. "[There were] so many people saying things that I don't have a recollection of," she said. "I am not sure whether they were right or wrong."

She disagreed with Robert's sister, Jane Clayton, when she said he was a "loyal, protective" husband. She did not believe Conchita Macaraeg, the maid who worked for her family and travelled with them for years, knew nothing about her fight with Robert. But it was difficult to pinpoint her other disputes because there had been weeks of evidence, she said.

In his examination-in-chief yesterday morning, defence counsel Alexander King SC asked Kissel to identify the baseball bat she said her husband kept in the bedroom. She stepped over to see the bat and returned to her seat trembling. She said he also had another similar bat in a closet. Kissel told the court she remembered one of the figurines flew off the base of the metal ornament during her struggle with her husband on November 2.

"What caused it to fly off?" Mr Chapman asked. "The bat ... when it was swung," she said. She said earlier that her husband was beating her with the bat while she tried to defend herself with the ornament in the bedroom, but that she could not remember what happened afterwards. Mr King told the accused she had earlier admitted putting sleeping pills in her husband's whisky bottle when they were staying at their holiday home in Vermont in the summer of 2003. She said she wanted to calm him down after seeing him hurt their eldest daughter, Elaine.

"Did you ever do the same thing in Hong Kong?" he asked. Kissel said she tried drugging a whisky bottle with sleeping pills again after returning from a trip to New York with her husband. But she got scared when she saw the pill settle at the bottom of the bottle in the "very bright" cabinet of the living room. She threw the bottle away and went to a supermarket, Great, to buy another bottle to replace it. "I never did it again. I never thought about it," she said.

Mr King asked what she could say about the prosecution's allegations that she drugged a milkshake with a cocktail of sedatives before serving it to the deceased and another Parkview resident, Andrew Tanzer. Kissel said on Wednesday that her two children and Mr Tanzer's daughter had helped her prepare the milkshake.

"It's a milkshake that I made for my children and someone else's children. I wouldn't harm my own children. I wouldn't harm someone else's children... I made the milkshake for my children in the afternoon. That's what I remembered," she said. Mr King asked if she had any recollection of visiting doctor Annabelle Dytham in a Wan Chai clinic on the morning of November 6, 2003. "I don't remember," she replied.

Mr King asked if she remembered reporting to the police on November 6 about her husband's physical assault and handing over to officers a medical report from Dr Dytham on her multiple injuries - evidence given by prosecution witnesses. "I don't ... I don't know that," she replied.

Kissel was also shown CCTV stills of herself and her father, Ira Keeshin, in the lift of her Parkview block on November 5. "Do you know why he came to Hong Kong?" Mr King asked. "I remember speaking to him on the phone and not very clear the conversation I had with him. He said he was coming out to be with me," she said. But she did not know when he arrived in Hong Kong and could not recall where they went on that day.

Update August 9th

* ESWN: Nancy Kissel part 39
* The Standard: I still love him, says Kissel.

Nancy Kissel cried out "I still love my husband" in court yesterday after a prosecutor argued she was seeking to paint Robert Peter Kissel as an abusive husband and father.
Prosecutor Peter Chapman also cast doubts on her claims of memory loss surrounding November 2, 2003, the date she is alleged to have bludgeoned her banker husband to death in the bedroom of their Parkview flat. He said Kissel's own lawyer had told the court she had no psychiatric problem or suicidal history in applying for bail last year.

Kissel, 41, said yesterday she had never approached anyone - including her maids, good friends, parents at Hong Kong International School or the rabbi of United Jewish Congregation - to talk about her husband's sexual and physical assaults before her visits to a marriage counsellor, a general practitioner and a psychiatrist in the latter half of 2003. She said she told the doctors of the assaults but did not know if she had told them about the anal sex she alleged her husband had forced on her.

"Who do you think was appropriate [to approach]?" asked Mr Chapman. "I hadn't thought about approaching anyone," she said.

"Because it's not happening, Mrs Kissel?" said Mr Chapman, who argued there was no witness to support her allegations of abuse by her husband. "Because it's something I chose to accept for a number of years ... It was something I was very ashamed of," she said. "Something I am still ashamed of."

Kissel, who also worked as a freelance photographer taking pictures for families, was asked if she had any photographic record of her injuries. She said she was not in possession of her photos.

Mr Chapman asked Kissel, who earlier recalled two incidents when her two daughters were disciplined by their father with force, if she was trying to "paint a picture of Robert Kissel as abusive to his children".

Kissel, who said the violence was isolated incidents that had terrified her, burst into tears. "I didn't try to paint a picture of him ... I still love him. Things happened. I stayed with him. I loved him, and I am not sitting here to paint a bad picture about him, because he's my husband," she said.

Mr Justice Michael Lunn ordered a break for Kissel to compose herself. Remaining motionless in the witness box for five seconds, she then looked at the judge and said in tears: "He's my husband ... It's so hard." She continued crying while returning to the dock.

Mr Chapman also challenged Kissel, who has pleaded not guilty to one count of murder, on the absence of any mention of "amnesia" or "memory loss" in her medical reports in Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre and her refusal to have Henry Yuen, the chief of service at the centre's Department of Forensic Science, who treated her between late-2003 and late-2004, as her expert witness.

Mr Chapman, who read out transcripts of Kissel's bail application last November, said her lawyer at that time, John Griffiths SC, told the court all the medical reports said she was "acting, behaving and sounding perfectly normal". Her friends who visited her at Siu Lam said "she's perfectly normal as she was before". She was subsequently granted bail.

Dr Yuen's report, dated November 19, 2003, a day after Kissel was sent to custody in Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre, said Kissel "attended psychiatric services" and "never had suicidal history". Kissel told the court last week she had attempted suicide by switching on her car engine in Vermont and had searched the internet for drugs that cause a heart attack.

"Was that true?" Mr Chapman asked about the report. "It's referring to my session in Siu Lam. When the [psychiatrist] would ask me specifically if I had any suicidal thoughts while I was in prison," Kissel replied.

"But you've only been there for a day," Mr Chapman said. "I don't know if I said that or not after being there for one day," she replied.

Mr Chapman said the report also stated Kissel's "consciousness level: alert; mood: neutral; attitude: co-operative; speech: relevant and coherent; suicidal idea: deny." Another report, dated May 2004, said she was "not morbidly depressed" and had "good reality testing".

The prosecutor asked if the findings were the reason why she did not consent to Dr Yuen being her expert witness in court. But Kissel said it was the psychiatrist himself who had reservations on whether he would be of help.

Kissel, a prominent parent at the Hong Kong International School, said she "wore a lot of make-up" and "put on a good face" as a disguise as her husband's alleged violence escalated in 2002. "I talked to people how great my life was," she said. "I never once complained to anybody. I never ever showed anything that's going on in my life ... I worked very hard on it in front of my children."

Update August 10th

* ESWN Kissel case part 40 - includes translations of Chinese press coverage.
* The Standard: Kissel lover viewed her as a 'goldmine'.

Nancy Kissel "shopped around for drugs" and made numerous phone calls to her lover in Vermont shortly before she killed her husband, prosecutor Peter Chapman told the Court of First Instance yesterday.
He suggested her lover, who lived in a trailer park, had treated her as a "potential gold mine".

Mr Chapman argued in his cross-examination of Kissel, 41, that she had known by September 2003 that a divorce with her banker husband, Robert Peter Kissel, was "a real possibility". But Kissel said that was just something she burst out with when they were arguing during a session with a marriage counsellor. Kissel admitted Robert phoned her during her stay in Vermont with her children in the summer of 2003 to tell her he knew of her affair with TV repairman Michael Del Priore.

Mr Chapman asked if she was concerned about the evidence her husband had about her adultery and how she would fare in a divorce. "No doubt your thoughts turned to money? Another issue may have been child custody?" he asked. But Kissel said her focus had always been on her children's wellbeing and life in Hong Kong. She said she did not know in October that Robert had discovered she had a "secret mobile phone", nor that he had spoken to his siblings, private investigators, friends and solicitors about divorce.

Referring to phone bills, Mr Chapman pointed out her calls with her lover grew more intense in September and October - 52 calls in September, 41 in the first half of October and 65 in the second half, with conversations as long as four hours. The phone calls lasted until November 1, stopped on November 2 and began again afterwards.

Mr Chapman said: "You represented a potential gold mine to him, didn't you?"

Kissel replied: "No, not at all. He had an understanding of what my life was about ... the struggle of accepting who I was. People assume people with money [are] so happy with their life ... I am tired of it."

Mr Chapman said: "This man called you back, spending hours on the telephone, and hundreds and hundreds of US dollars, which a resident of a trailer park couldn't afford? I suggest, Mrs Kissel, he considered it a good investment ... in you?"

Kissel replied: "He's someone I spoke to on a daily basis, yes ... He's someone I was able to talk to without judgment."

Mr Chapman pointed out there were seven calls between Kissel and Mr Del Priore on October 23 alone, when she said she visited doctor Annabelle Dytham to talk about her husband's alleged sexual and physical assault.

Mr Chapman: "By the time you went to Dr Dytham on October 23, you were well aware that divorce was on the cards?"

Kissel: "No. He was very clear ... with me that divorce was not a solution." She said earlier she was prescribed 10 tablets of Rohypnol on that visit.

The court heard Kissel went to the clinic on October 28 and was prescribed 20 tablets of the painkiller dextropropoxythene. On October 30, she said she consulted a psychiatrist, identified as Dr Fong, and was prescribed Lorivan, Ambien and amitriptyline. Those three drugs, Rohypnol and Axotal were found in the stomach and liver of the deceased.

Mr Chapman: "Did you tell Dr Fong that `I am taking Rohypnol?'"

Kissel: "I don't remember."

Mr Chapman: "You were shopping for drugs, didn't you?"

Kissel: "No."

Mr Chapman pointed out that the phone records showed she had called her lover before and after her three clinical visits. But she said she had not told him about the visits. Kissel said she was given instructions by Dr Fong on how to take the drugs together, but she said she did not remember the instructions.

"Robert Kissel appeared to be taking them all together with two as an added bonus, didn't he?" asked Mr Chapman.

"I don't know," she replied.

Mr Chapman asked how she justified her evidence that she attempted suicide but on the same day wrote to friends about plans, including going for tea or lunch at the Mandarin Oriental.

* Another source has provided the following report:
Realizing that the knowledge of her affair with an electrician living in a trailer park would disadvantage her in divorce proceedings, accused murderer, Nancy Kissel went on a ``shopping spree for drugs'' the week before her banker husband Robert Kissel was murdered, the prosecution suggested in the High Court, Tuesday.
At the same time, the lover, Michael Del Priore, considered the accused a ``goldmine'' and was willing to invest time and money on long-distance calls, which increased in frequency in the months leading to the alleged murder and intensified on significant dates, such as the day the accused was prescribed Rohypnol, the court heard.
Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, Peter Chapman, also suggested that it was ``nonsense'' that the accused had felt so lonely that she searched for ``medication causing heart attack'' on the internet to commit suicide, because e-mail records suggest at the time she had plenty of social functions with her female friends to go to.
She was also ``intimately familiar with sleeping pills and painkillers'' by this time, said Chapman, and could have just taken any one of the bottles she said was lying around the house to kill herself. Regarding the accused's testimony that she searched for Rohypnol on October 23, 2003, because she was prescribed it and had not heard of it before, Chapman commented: ``So Dr [Annabel] Dythin is the sort of doctor who doesn't tell her patient what she's prescribing is she?''
Kissel replied she wanted to find out more about the drug. She said she never thought of leaving her husband, was visiting alternative doctors, not shopping for drugs, and was spending more time on the phone to Del Priore because the intensity of Robert's abuse was increasing.
Throughout the trial, the prosecution has suggested that Nancy Kissel was the primary beneficiary of the deceased's life insurance policies. His sister, Jane Clayton, the first prosecution witness, estimated his estate to be worth US$18 million, including stocks, cash, real estate and life insurance.
Tuesday, Chapman continued with his third day of cross-examination. He suggested that by August, the accused had no intention to salvage the marriage.
``Michael Del Priore was the man you loved. He was the man in your life,'' said Chapman.
Kissel replied that he was the person she had become very close with since they shared a lot and that ``he continued to give support.''
``Del Priore lived in a trailer park right?'' asked Chapman. ``No,'' she answered.
``In a stationary mobile home?'' suggested Chapman. ``I believe something like that,'' she replied.
``And you represented a potential goldmine to him didn't you Mrs Kissel?'' said the prosecutor.
``No, he had an understanding of what my life was about,'' she said
Kissel said he did not judge her by what she possessed and accepted her as a person.
Chapman pointed out that in the month of September, 2003, Kissel made 52 calls to Del Priore and then 106 calls in October. On the day she was prescribed Rohypnol, a drug found in the stomach of the deceased, she made seven calls to Del Priore before and after her meeting with the doctor.
At the end of August, two days before her husband returned home from New York from back surgery, the accused had searched for sleeping pills, ``drug overdose'' and ``medication causing heart attack.'' That day, she had spoken to Del Priore for over three hours.
The accused said she never talked about receiving the drugs, nor her thoughts of suicide to Del Priore.
Chapman noted that the ``pattern'' was she would only call for a few seconds, and then receive a call back from Del Priore, but the accused said she would not pay for the return call.
``This man called you back, spending hours on the telephone, spending hundreds and hundreds of US dollars, which a resident at a trailer park can ill-afford,'' said Chapman.
``He worked,'' she replied.
``I suggest to you, he considered that a good investment,'' said Chapman.
Prosecution witnesses have testified that they thought the accused realized her husband had discovered her secret mobile phone which she used to contact Del Priore and that he was preparing divorce papers.
The accused said Tuesday, she did not know he knew of the secret mobile phone at the time.
``So he didn't come and confront you and beat you up? That would seem a bit out of character wouldn't it?'' asked Chapman.
Nancy replied, ``yes, it would seem so'' and did not know why he didn't confront her.
By the end of October, ``you had 10 tablets of Rohypnol provided on the 23rd and 20 tablets of Dextropropoxythene provided on the 28th -- that's 10 pretty good nights of sleep and plenty of painkillers,'' said Chapman.
``Then on 30th October, off you go to Dr Fung and you end up with Lorivan, Amitryptaline and some more Stilnox,'' he noted.
Nancy agreed, but said she switched to Dr Fung, because he was a psychiatrist, and more suitable than the previous doctor.
``Three days after that,'' said Chapman, ``those three drugs end up in Robert Kissel's stomach, Mrs Kissel, along with the Rohypnol.
``In relation to those four drugs. How were you supposed to take them?'' he asked.
``As directed,'' she replied.
``All together?'' Chapman asked.
She said she was not sure, but would have taken them according to instructions.
``Robert Kissel seemed to have taken them all together on 2nd November with two as an added bonus, didn't he?'' asked Chapman.
``I don't know,'' she replied.
Nancy Kissel is accused of serving her Merrill Lynch banker husband a pink milkshake laced with sedatives, which left him unconscious at the foot of the bed as she bludgeoned him to death with the heavy metal ornament on November 2, 2003.
The decomposing body of Robert Kissel, a former high-flying banker with Merrill Lynch, was found wrapped in a rug, locked in a storeroom at their Parkview residential complex in the early hours of the November 7.
Kissel testified last week that she thought he was going to kill her that night during which they had a furious argument about divorce, resulting his attempt to have sex with her.
In resisting the sex, she knocked him on the head, which resulted in him swinging a baseball bat at her while repeatedly saying, ``I'm going to kill you, you bitch.''
Last week she admitted that she inflicted the fatal wounds with the metal ornament, but said she could not remember any further details about the fight, and her consequent actions. She denies the murder charge and is out on bail.
Tuesday, Chapman suggested that the accused returned to Hong Kong on July 30 from Vermont, only to go back to New York on August 3 with her husband because she would have the opportunity to make a sneak visit to Del Priore in Central Park.
Kissel said she did meet him then and there for half an hour, but the purpose of that trip was to support her husband through back surgery.
The accused said that in this period, the ``anal sex, cocaine use and painkillers'' continued.
Chapman said that the banker's doctor in Adventist Hospital gave the impression, ``he was a cripple, barely able to walk, destined for New York to have back surgery.''
``That's what painkillers are for,'' said the accused. She said, ``he still drank, he took drugs. He was a very capable person of getting things he wanted from me.''
Chapman pointed out that the deceased had by September, known web pages for drugs had been visited, half-jokingly expressed concerns for his life to his confidante, wondered to his private investigator whether his whisky was being tampered with, and did not trust his wife -- ``that's something that would put a stop to his drinking isn't it?'' he asked.
She said he continued drinking.
The prosecutor also noted she had written in her computer diary, ``he wants kissing, sex, sex, sex'' and that when she refused, he would ``throw a fit, opened his book, and stick his nose in the book.''
``Was that an accurate description of your sex life?'' he asked. She said she couldn't understand the kissing, given his forceful sodomy.
According to Nancy's testimony, ``Robert would not take no for an answer and would extract sex through violence that's not what it says here is it?'' said Chapman. ``Sex doesn't fix things,'' she replied and that the sex didn't correlate with him reading the book.
Earlier, the prosecutor noted that in the literature from her computer diary, there was no mention of cocaine or forceful sodomy.

Update August 11th

* ESWN: Kissel case part 41 including a translation of Ming Pao's coverage.
* The Standard: Kissel told 'plain, simple lies'.

Nancy Kissel and her husband had a terrible argument at home which caused them to miss a private session with former US president George Bush before a banquet, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.
She testified that, when her husband told her he was furious they had missed the event, she went over to the former president, who was at the next table, tapped him on the shoulder and said: "My husband was a great fans of yours. Would you mind if he talks to you?"

The court was shown a photo the couple had taken with Mr Bush.

The defendant, who has told of being sexually and physically assaulted night after night by Robert Peter Kissel, described the incident while being questioned about why she always wore a "happy, smiling, unmarked" face at public gatherings with her husband in the two months before she allegedly murdered him.

Prosecutor Peter Chapman asked Kissel if she sustained injuries from those assaults in September and October 2003, when, he said, she was often "out and about in public". Kissel, 41, who denies her husband's murder, said: "It's possible that something was visible. It's possible that I tried my best sometimes with cosmetics and things like tanning cream."

The prosecutor challenged the defendant on the significantly different accounts she gave two doctors of her husband's assault on her on November 2, 2003, the day of his death. He said that, two days after that, she told Annabelle Dytham that her husband, drunk, had demanded sex but she had refused. The doctor's report said they were running around the bedroom before the deceased grabbed and kicked her. She defended herself with a fork. The report, a copy of which was sent to the police when she reported the assault on November 6, also recorded a long list of injuries on her body.

But the defendant told a psychiatrist in January this year that her husband was beating her with a baseball bat while she was defending herself with a metal ornament.

"On November 4, 2003, you gave an explanation to Dr Dytham and there was no suggestion that you had a problem recalling events?" asked the prosecutor. But the defendant, who said earlier she had lost much of her memory of events on November 2, said she could not remember the visit.

"Your claim here of memory loss is ... a lie, isn't Mrs Kissel?" he asked. "I was not aware at that time that I had memory loss," she said.

Mr Chapman suggested Kissel had practised "three levels of deception" on Dr Dytham, the police and her father, Ira Keeshin, who flew to Hong Kong from the US shortly after the alleged murder. He argued that the accused only told her father about the killing when the police went to the family's apartment in Parkview, Tai Tam, on November 6, which explained why he cried out, "Oh, my God. I don't believe it" when officers asked for the keys to a storeroom where, the court has heard, the body of the top Merrill Lynch banker was found rolled up in an old carpet. "I don't know," Kissel said. "There are things that I don't understand. That's a part of my life that was taken away from me."

"The person who had his life taken away by you was Mr Kissel," said Mr Chapman.

The prosecutor also argued that Kissel had served the deceased a drugged milkshake.

"By November 2003, there was absolutely no way Robert Kissel was going to take a drink from you, Mrs Kissel," he said. Earlier evidence suggested that the deceased told his friends his suspicions that the defendant was drugging his whisky. "He continued eating with me. He continued drinking his scotch," she answered.

The visit of Andrew Tanzer, another Parkview resident, and his daughter that afternoon had suddenly presented an opportunity for Kissel, he said. "You didn't bring the milkshake to the men, you asked the girls to do it ... because you knew Robert Kissel would never take it from you," he said.

Kissel said she made the milkshake for the children.

She was also asked why, when the deceased armed himself with a baseball bat after having told her he would divorce her and take the children, her "weapon of choice" was a dining room ornament. "In the kitchen was a far superior array of defensive weapons - Connie and Min," said Mr Chapman, referring to her domestic helpers.

"How did you get the better of Mr Kissel using the ornament?" he asked. She said she could not recall the number of blows her statue warded off. "You were able to deliver those five accurate, fatal blows because Robert Kissel was unable to defend himself. You had rendered him defenceless by drugging him," he said. "No, no," she replied.

Update August 12th

* ESWN: Nancy Kissel part 42
* The Standard: Calls to lover as Kissel covered up.

Nancy Kissel called her Vermont lover in the early morning after she allegedly murdered her husband and spoke to him many times over the next few days when she embarked on a series of activities to cover up the killing, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.
Prosecutor Peter Chapman said bills for Kissel's "secret mobile phone" showed she had spoken for 24 minutes to Michael Del Priore, a TV repairman living in a trailer park in Vermont, at 7.41am on November 3, 2003. "By that time, you are unlikely to need a sympathetic ear about an abusive husband?" he asked Kissel.

She said she had often spoken to Mr Del Priore about different things, not only about her marriage. "During this call, did you tell Michael you had solved your problem?" Mr Chapman asked. "I don't remember," said Kissel, who had earlier told the court she had lost her memory of many events surrounding November 2.

Evidence given earlier indicated Kissel and her lover spoke almost daily in September and October, sometimes many times a day, with calls lasting for hours. The bills show that at about 9.30am on November 3, Kissel was speaking to Mr Del Priore for 23 minutes, at a time when CCTV stills at Parkview indicated she was out shopping. Kissel said she could not recall the conversation but she spoke to him a lot when shopping. Mr Chapman said there was a third phone call at 6.20pm.

On November 4, Kissel spoke to Mr Del Priore once before and five times after her visit to doctor Annabelle Dytham between 9am and 10am, when she told the doctor of her husband's sexual and physical assaults in their bedroom two days earlier. The doctor's report said she was "tearful", "slow to move" and had "total body pain".

Mr Chapman said the accused went on "three separate shopping expeditions" on November 4, with CCTV stills showing her carrying back shopping bags, a rug and a suitcase. But Kissel said she had never stopped any activities because of her husband's assaults. "Your body has become on auto-pilot... I do it ... for my children," she said, adding that she sometimes had to buy new sheets to replace those bloodstained from anal sex her husband forced on her.

Mr Chapman said the long-distance calls continued until November 6, the day before Kissel's arrest. Throughout that period, he said she had made arrangements for a storeroom - where the deceased's body was found wrapped in an old carpet - to be cleaned and sent her two maids on shopping trips.

"While all of this is going on, you were continuing to speak to Michael Del Priore?" he said.

Kissel, shown the bills, said: "It appears to be ... three months' continuation of phone calls. Yes." She said later that she had not contacted him after November 2003.

Mr Chapman: "After the five years of horror you had endured in the hands of Robert Kissel, what was left in your relationship apart from money?"

Kissel: "It's the graduation of things that's developed ... turning into something that was horrible. It's a lot of acceptance I've chosen to do."

However, Desmond Fung, a psychiatrist who saw Kissel on August 29 and October 30, said when testifying after the defendant yesterday that her account of severe distress sounded plausible.

"How did she present herself?" asked Alexander King SC, for the defence.

"She's describing everything in ... sequence. I did not detect evidence that she's making up a story," the psychiatrist said.

On her first visit, Kissel told him about her relationship and their fights. She said she could only sleep three to four hours a day. Dr Fung prescribed her 10 tablets of Stilnox or Ambien to help her sleep.

On her second visit, she told Dr Fung the pills were not effective and her marriage had deteriorated. He said he prescribed three types of sleeping pills and anti-depressants - Stilnox, Lorivan and amitriptyline, a combination to treat tenacious sleeping problems.

At times in tears, Kissel told Dr Fung her husband was "extremely powerful", "someone who had brought Merrill Lynch to Asia". But he was a "five-minute father" who was never around.

In cross-examination, Mr Chapman suggested Kissel and her husband had never had the August 27 joint session with a psychologist she told Dr Fung about during her first visit. "Would that surprise you?" he asked. Dr Fung agreed and said he was not aware of that.

ESWN has also posted the regular update schedule of various news services:
[Administrative Note] If you are a regular visitor on account of the Nancy Kissel case, then here is the schedule on regular weekdays when the court is in session:
- At some time during the early evening, Bloomberg, AP and/or Reuters will issue their brief reports for the day at the court.
- At some time after midnight, The Hong Kong Standard will post Albert Wong's report(s) online (see the entire archive)
- Early in the morning, South China Morning Post will post Polly Hui's report(s) online (see the entire archive; subscription required)
- Early in the morning, Made In China will link to all the local Hong Kong Chinese-language new items for the five major newspapers (Oriental Daily, The Sun, MingPao, Sing Tao, Sing Pao; but Apple Daily is shielded behind subscription) online. Yahoo! News is slightly slower. The ESWN blog will try to translate those reports as quickly as possible (dependiing on our entertainment duties on the previous night!).
This has been a public service announcement from your favorite website.

Update August 13th

* The Standard: Kissel 'pain' disproportionate to injury: doctor.

A doctor yesterday described bruises and swelling on the body of Nancy Anne Kissel two days after she is alleged to have murdered her husband, but she said the patient's "subjective thinking" of her pain was "disproportionate" to her actual injuries.
Doctor Annabelle Dytham said the defendant was in "total body pain" and had restricted movement when she saw her in a Wan Chai clinic on November 4, 2003..

"I felt a little frustrated that everywhere I touched, Nancy was painful, [even] in places with no physical injuries," the doctor, who flew from Singapore to give evidence for the defence, said during cross-examination by prosecutor Peter Chapman.

"I am not used to dealing with psychosomatic pain - patients who have pain where there is no actual physical injury."

Kissel, 41, is accused of bludgeoning her husband, Merill Lynch banker Robert Peter Kissel, to death in their Parkview flat on November 2, 2003. She has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Dr Dytham, who had treated Kissel a few times since early 2002, earlier told defence counsel Alexander King SC Kissel had called the clinic at about 8.30am that morning and asked to see her at 9am.

She said that when Kissel arrived at her practice, she walked in a "hunched-over fashion" and started to cry after sitting down. Describing Kissel as "always well-dressed", she said the patient, wearing a pair of dark glasses, white top and black pants, was "not dressed to her usual standard".

Kissel said her husband had attempted to have sex with her in the bedroom but she had declined.

The doctor said Kissel told her the banker had used his "fists and feet only" to inflict injuries on her, and she had defended herself with a fork held the wrong way around.

A physical examination found Kissel had slightly swollen and cracked lips, swollen fingers and puncture wounds on the inner crease of her right hand - which she believed went along with the story of the defence with a fork.

She was bruised from the right to the elbow with finger marks. Her left arm and shoulders were painful to touch but had no bruising and had full-range movement. Kissel also complained of pain in her ribs, collar bones and chest as well as decreased range of movement of her spine and upper thigh. There were bruises - including one 15cm by 7.5cm on her shin - and four markings on her legs. The doctor suspected Kissel had broken ribs and sent her for an X-ray, the results of which were negative.

In cross-examination, Mr Chapman showed closed-circuit television stills indicating Kissel went on several shopping trips and returned home with a suitcase, rug and shopping bags on November 3.

He asked the doctor if the images surprised her.

"I can't see the speed in which Nancy's moving [in the stills] ... I don't know how heavy the suitcase was. There's no facial expression. People are known to be able to struggle through all sorts of injuries," she said.

"I can say I am a little surprised. However, if Nancy had come to me to report injuries on November 4, I could understand a possible exaggeration of the pain given that she had been assaulted and she might want to make a court case out of it."

The doctor recalled Kissel received a phone call in the middle of the consultation and said to the caller "I am with Annabelle at the moment". She heard a younger male's voice on the other end.

Kissel told her it was a good friend from the United States who had given good support. Phone records revealed earlier indicated Kissel had several phone conversations that day with TV repairman Michael Del Priore, her lover in Vermont, including one during her visit to Dr Dytham.

Mr Chapman asked if she had advised Kissel to report to the police. "There was no mention of rape. So, I didn't go down that channel," she said. But she had given a copy of her medical notes to Kissel, thinking they might be of use if she decided to go to the police or ended up in a divorce case.

Kissel handed the notes to officers when she reported the alleged assault by her husband to the police on November 6.

"During her course of description of events, did she mention to you that Robert Kissel had used a weapon to assault her on Sunday?" Mr Chapman asked.

Dr Dytham replied no.

The doctor said she had no problem understanding anything Kissel had said and that she did not believe the patient had difficulties in recollecting what had occurred two days before.

In a consultation on October 23, Kissel had complained to the doctor of suffering from insomnia and marital problems after she commented on how well she looked, Dr Dytham said.

Kissel also told her that she had been assaulted by her husband since late 2002. The doctor's notes recorded "alleged assault" and "subsequent violations" by the deceased as well as Kissel's "low libido".

But she said she had not complained of injuries, anal sex or rape. "At no time did I think she was dangerous to herself or anyone else," Dr Dytham said.

Mr Chapman told Dr Dytham that computer records had shown the accused was making arrangements for breast-lift surgery in the US 45 minutes after the visit to her clinic.

Dr Dytham prescribed Kissel 10 tablets of Rohypnol after she complained Stilnox did not help her sleep. But she said she was not in the habit of prescribing the drug to her patients because it was a strong hypnotic that could cause black-outs in users who drank.

* ESWN points to a New York Times article outlining the problems facing the Kissel children.
* Phil links to another article on Andrew Kissel.

Update August 16th

* The Standard: Accused's pain 'not exaggerated'

Nowhere on Nancy Kissel's body did doctor Annabelle Dytham, who examined Kissel two days after she killed her husband, see anything to suggest she had received "serious forceful blows" from an object such as a baseball bat, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.
But Dr Dytham said Kissel may not have been exaggerating the pain she was suffering from an alleged assault by her husband - contradicting her testimony on Friday that she may have overstated it. The doctor made the statement yesterday after defence counsel told her of tests that suggested Kissel had musculo-skeletal injuries.

During cross-examination by prosecutor Peter Chapman, Dr Dytham was asked to view and touch the baseball bat that Kissel, 41, claims Robert Peter Kissel used to beat her in their bedroom on November 2, 2003, the day she is accused of murdering her husband. Mr Chapman asked Dr Dytham what injuries she would expect to see if a man had used the bat to land forceful blows on a woman. She said bruises, possible bone fractures and - if hit on the head - possible loss of consciousness.

"In relations to injuries you had noted in your medical notes, were they consistent with an assault by Robert Kissel, threatening to kill Nancy Kissel by the use of a baseball bat?" Mr Chapman asked. The list of Kissel's injuries recorded by Dr Dytham on November 4 included swollen fingers, puncture wounds to the right hand, pain in the ribs, chest and shoulders, and leg bruises and markings. X-rays showed no fractures.

"The injuries suggested there was an assault. Whether the bat was used forcibly or whether the bat was used, I am unable to comment," Dr Dytham said. "As far as I can see, there's no area that implies serious forceful blows."...Kissel went to see Dr Dytham "in total body pain" on the morning of November 4, alleging her husband had used his feet and fists to attack her, but she did not mention a baseball bat during the visit.

Dr Dytham was asked to study photos of the deceased wrapped in the carpet and weigh the new rug the accused carried home on November 3. She was asked if she was surprised by Kissel's ability to roll up her husband and carry the new carpet with her injuries.

"Nancy was very distressed when I saw her. If it now seems that she's admitted she had killed her husband, then I could imagine how frantic she must have been and desperate to destroy or remove any evidence under those circumstances," Dr Dytham said. "Given how she presented herself to me, I am surprised. Given how she was exaggerating her injuries, then I am not surprised."

In re-examination, defence counsel Alexander King SC told Dr Dytham two blood tests, which detect injuries to skeletal muscles, conducted after Kissel's arrest on November 7 recorded CK levels of 358 and 450 per litre. The normal CK level was 24 to 180, he said. Referring to the findings, Mr King asked: "Would that suggest to you that the pain may not have been exaggerated?" The witness said: "Yes. I cannot comment on the subjective level of pain with the level of CK. But yes, you are right."

Mr King asked: "If someone was holding the ornament to protect herself from the blows from a bat and the bat came into contact with the ornament, would the shock transfer itself to the joints of the elbows and shoulders?" Dr Dytham said this was possible and that there could be injuries to the ribs even without a fracture.

"You were aware when Nancy Kissel came to see you, she had been in the room with Robert Kissel's body for one or two nights?" Mr King asked. Dr Dytham said she had not been aware that was so.

Update August 17th

* The Standard: Accused's father tells of his shock.

Nancy Kissel's father jumped onto a plane to Hong Kong in fear for his daughter and grandchildren after she told him that she had been beaten up "pretty badly" by her husband, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday. Ira Keeshin, when asked by defence counsel Alexander King SC to recall events on November 3, 2003, a day after his daughter killed Robert Peter Kissel, took in several deep breaths and said: "There are waves of emotions. I can't stop it. I got a phone call from Nancy about 7pm Hong Kong time ... She said: Dad, I've been beaten up pretty badly." She also told him her husband had left home after the assault.

Kissel, 41, has admitted killing Robert Peter Kissel with a metal ornament on November 2, 2003, but has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Mr Keeshin said his son from the second of his three marriages, Brooks Keeshin, a medical doctor involved in shelters for battered women, urged him to take a flight from Chicago to Hong Kong. He said his son, who also gave evidence yesterday, said to him: "Dad, this is a defining moment in your relationship with Nancy. When men beat up their wives, sometimes they come back to kill her and their children."

Mr Keeshin said: "I told her to double bolt the doors. I couldn't conceive anything else other than what he and Nancy told me." Mr Keeshin, who landed in Hong Kong on November 5, said his daughter looked "terrible, beat up", with a cracked lip, a bruised hand and ribs strapped with a Velcro belt, when he arrived at her apartment in Parkview, Tai Tam.

He recalled Kissel shaking when he took her to Aberdeen police station on November 6. She was "spacey and erratic" and told him she could not recall events of the previous day. Mr Keeshin, who was staying at Parkview hotel at the time, said he received a call from Kissel at about 11pm on the 6th, telling him officers had gone to her flat and asking him to go over.

He said the head officer told him in the flat that they had a search warrant. "He said: `We're pretty sure we know where your son-in-law was.' He said he needs the keys to the storeroom. It's a huge shock, even imaging what had happened," he said. He recalled saying "goddamnit" when Kissel said she had lost the keys. But the keys were eventually given to the officers.

When some officers had left to search the storeroom, where the body was eventually found, Mr Keeshin asked for an ambulance for his daughter. "She was shaking pretty violently, the dog was barking, Reis [Kissel's youngest child] was wet. I got to change his diaper," he said.

Leaving Parkview for Ruttonjee Hospital with Kissel in the ambulance, Mr Keeshin recalled: "I looked out through the back window and saw a parade of cops. I thought, who could this be at 1am? And there was the press. I remember Nancy screaming when they went into the custodial ward... I broke down. It was very, very sad." When asked by Mr King about his impression of his son-in-law when he married his daughter in 1989, he said: "Good guy. He used me like his father, which I thought a lot of."

Robert had appointed him guardian of his children in his will. Mr Keeshin had never seen or detected the senior Merrill Lynch banker using illegal drugs, but added he had never lived with him. Mr Keeshin said he considered the couple's move to Hong Kong a "great success story". When he heard his daughter left Robert on a Canadian skiing trip after a fight in 2002, it was "the first time I began to realise that everything wasn't so glorious in terms of relationship".

In cross-examination, Mr Keeshin told prosecutor Peter Chapman his first wife, Kissel's mother, did not have a drinking problem or depression. He also said he had no tendency towards violence

Update August 18th

* The Standard: Defendant's friends recall various instances of abuse.

Nancy Kissel shocked her friend when she asked how her husband was, shortly after she was arrested for killing him, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday. Geertruida Samra said Kissel did not seem to know during their conversation at the Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre that Robert Peter Kissel was already dead. The defence witness, described as one of Kissel's best friends in Hong Kong, recalled seeing Kissel step into the visitors' room assisted by a warden because she could hardly walk by herself.

The accused asked her friend: "Trudy, how's Rob?" Shocked, she replied: "Honey, Rob's gone. You know that right?" Kissel replied: "I don't know, I can't remember much."

Ms Samra said that they did not say much about events surrounding November 2, 2003, the day Kissel allegedly bludgeoned her husband to death after serving him a drugged milkshake. "It's not something that you bring up ... I never thought I should be so curious ... I trust her. I trust that, in my opinion, whatever happened was never meant to be," the witness told defence counsel Alexander King, SC...Ms Samra said Kissel had told her on the telephone on November 2 that she could not attend Ms Samra's birthday lunch on November 6 because "something terrible has happened to Rob". Ms Samra, who also lives in Parkview, said Kissel turned down her offer to go to her apartment to help out.

The witness, one of three people who stood surety for Kissel, said the accused had been vice-president of the Parent Faculty Organisation of the Hong Kong International School in 2001 when she was president. She said Kissel was a "sociable, giving" person who dedicated her life to her children. She recalled seeing her friend injured on three occasions, including once with a black eye. Earlier, in cross-examination by prosecutor Peter Chapman, Kissel's father, Ira Keeshin, said he had come to Hong Kong after a call from Kissel in November to tell him that she had been badly beaten by her husband.

Mr Keeshin said his daughter had told him during the family's visit to the Whistler ski resort in Vancouver in December 2002 that her husband had slammed her into a wall during a fight. But Mr Chapman showed him his statement to the police which said he had heard about this assault only during a November 3, 2003, phone call from his daughter. "I must have my time mixed up. The statement must be more accurate," he said.

He told Mr Chapman that Kissel had not told him she had arranged for her husband's body to be taken to a storeroom. He also said he could not recall if he had made inquiries about Robert Kissel's whereabouts after he had been missing for days. "I wasn't investigating anything, I was handling things, which I ended up doing the rest of the week," he said.

Contrary to police officers' accounts, he said he had not had a private conversation with his daughter before putting his hands up to his head saying: "Oh my God, I don't believe it" when the officers went to the Parkview flat to investigate on November 7. He said he had made the remark because he had realised what had happened after an inspector asked his daughter for storeroom keys and told him they were pretty sure they knew where the deceased was.

"What did you realise?" asked Mr Chapman.

"That Rob was dead. Why would he be in a storage room? You just don't have somebody in a storage room at 11pm," he said.

Nancy Nassberg, another friend of the defendant who testified yesterday, recalled her maid asking Kissel why she was wearing sunglasses indoors over a dinner in February 1999. The defendant lowered her glasses to the tip of her nose, showing bruising around her right eye, and said "rough sex" before changing the subject.

Update August 18th

* The Standard: Kissel 'very kind, pleasant and always helpful to kids'

Nancy Kissel did not tell her best friends in her luxury Parkview estate about alleged physical and sexual assaults by her husband because the expatriate community there was "very gossipy", the Court of First Instance heard yesterday. As the defence case entered its third week, Kissel's friends testified one by one, describing her as a devoted mother of three who spent a lot of time doing volunteer work for the Hong Kong International School to be near her children.

In cross-examination yesterday, Geertruida Samra, one of Kissel's best friends and also a Parkview resident, told prosecutor Peter Chapman that Kissel had never told her she was seeing a doctor, Annabelle Dytham, and psychiatrist, Desmond Fung, between August and October 2003. Nor did she know Kissel was prescribed hypnotics and painkillers - Rohypnol, Lorivan, amitriptyline and Stilnox - during those visits.

"I know she had sleeping problems, but didn't know she went to see any doctor," she said, adding later that she saw her often looking tired when sending her children to the school bus. Ms Samra said Kissel never told her she had attempted suicide and had developed a sexual relationship with TV repairman Michael Del Priore during her stay in Vermont in the summer of 2003.

The witness, who had worked with Kissel - as president and vice-president respectively of the Parent Faculty Organisation (PFO) in Hong Kong International School - for two years, was also not aware that she had obtained a second mobile phone to call her lover and had the bills sent to the PFO office. Mr Chapman asked why she was not told of Kissel's assaults despite her close and enduring relationship with Kissel.

"I never pry about people's business. You never know what goes on behind closed doors," Ms Samra said. "I wish she had told me. But the expatriate community in Parkview was very gossipy. I think Nancy kept it within herself to protect herself and her family." Asked if she was concerned for Kissel's mental wellbeing when she was released on bail in November last year, Ms Samra - who with a few friends took turns staying with Kissel for some time after her release - said Kissel had calmed down considerably with the help of medication. She said the accused had lost a lot of weight.

Another witness, Mary Lamb, told defence counsel Alexander King SC she saw Kissel with a black eye in late October 2003 when she picked up her daughter after a play date with the witness' daughter. "I assumed she did have an argument with her husband but I decided I had not known her long enough to ask."

Marcia Barhan, who has taught music at Hong Kong International School for 11 years, said Kissel served on most committees in the school and was the school photographer. "She's one of the most outstanding parents in my entire career," she said. She also showed jurors a T-shirt, bag and CD-album Kissel helped design for the school.

Mr Chapman asked Ms Barhan how Kissel dressed. She said Kissel was conservative in her selection of clothes and wore tinted or black sunglasses indoors almost all the time. "I didn't think it was strange, though, being an artistic person that she is," she said.

Update August 19th

* The Standard: Kissel 'very kind, pleasant and always helpful to kids'

Nancy Kissel did not tell her best friends in her luxury Parkview estate about alleged physical and sexual assaults by her husband because the expatriate community there was "very gossipy", the Court of First Instance heard yesterday. As the defence case entered its third week, Kissel's friends testified one by one, describing her as a devoted mother of three who spent a lot of time doing volunteer work for the Hong Kong International School to be near her children.

In cross-examination yesterday, Geertruida Samra, one of Kissel's best friends and also a Parkview resident, told prosecutor Peter Chapman that Kissel had never told her she was seeing a doctor, Annabelle Dytham, and psychiatrist, Desmond Fung, between August and October 2003. Nor did she know Kissel was prescribed hypnotics and painkillers - Rohypnol, Lorivan, amitriptyline and Stilnox - during those visits.

"I know she had sleeping problems, but didn't know she went to see any doctor," she said, adding later that she saw her often looking tired when sending her children to the school bus. Ms Samra said Kissel never told her she had attempted suicide and had developed a sexual relationship with TV repairman Michael Del Priore during her stay in Vermont in the summer of 2003.

The witness, who had worked with Kissel - as president and vice-president respectively of the Parent Faculty Organisation (PFO) in Hong Kong International School - for two years, was also not aware that she had obtained a second mobile phone to call her lover and had the bills sent to the PFO office. Mr Chapman asked why she was not told of Kissel's assaults despite her close and enduring relationship with Kissel.

"I never pry about people's business. You never know what goes on behind closed doors," Ms Samra said. "I wish she had told me. But the expatriate community in Parkview was very gossipy. I think Nancy kept it within herself to protect herself and her family." Asked if she was concerned for Kissel's mental wellbeing when she was released on bail in November last year, Ms Samra - who with a few friends took turns staying with Kissel for some time after her release - said Kissel had calmed down considerably with the help of medication. She said the accused had lost a lot of weight.

Another witness, Mary Lamb, told defence counsel Alexander King SC she saw Kissel with a black eye in late October 2003 when she picked up her daughter after a play date with the witness' daughter. "I assumed she did have an argument with her husband but I decided I had not known her long enough to ask."

Marcia Barhan, who has taught music at Hong Kong International School for 11 years, said Kissel served on most committees in the school and was the school photographer. "She's one of the most outstanding parents in my entire career," she said. She also showed jurors a T-shirt, bag and CD-album Kissel helped design for the school.

Mr Chapman asked Ms Barhan how Kissel dressed. She said Kissel was conservative in her selection of clothes and wore tinted or black sunglasses indoors almost all the time. "I didn't think it was strange, though, being an artistic person that she is," she said.

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August 07, 2005
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.

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August 06, 2005
Nancy Kissel case Archive

This post contains all the introductory details and news articles up to July 15th, 2005. More recent updates can be found at the Nancy Kissel case update post.

* Here is a summary of the case to date with links to Phil's extensive coverage (from November 2004)
* the pretrial hearings
* the first day of the trial
* ESWN has a compilation of coverage of the trial in both the English and Chinese press: Kissel case part 1; Kissel case part 2; Kissel case part 3; Kissel case part 4; Kissel case part 5.

Updated June 14th
* The Standard: Scotch twist in Kissel case
* ESWN coverage part 6.
* The SCMP's unlinkable report today covers much the same ground as The Standard. Some excerpts:

American banker Robert Kissel suspected his wife was poisoning his scotch about two months before she allegedly served him a sedative-laced milkshake and bludgeoned him to death, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.
Frank Shea, owner of the Alpha Group, a New York private detective agency, said his client expressed concerns that his wife, Nancy Ann Kissel, 40, was trying to kill him shortly after he returned to Hong Kong from a New York trip for back surgery on August 23, 2003...

When the detective visited Hong Kong and met Kissel at the China Club on September 1, 2003, his client told him he "felt guilty about his suspicions". He said Kissel sometimes thought his marriage was getting better and then he would find evidence that his wife was still communicating with her alleged lover, Michael del Priore...At the request of Robert Kissel, Mr Shea sent private detective Rocco Gatta to spy on the defendant in Stratton, Vermont, in June and July 2003, where she was staying with her three children to escape the Sars outbreak. Kissel told him to watch out for Mr del Priore, who he described as a white Caucasian, who was very fit, in his late-20s to mid-30s. The deceased paid about US$24,000 for the 11-day service.

In cross-examination, Gary Plowman SC, for the defence, asked Mr Shea if he had ever mentioned to the deceased whether the blood or urine test would detect the presence of cocaine. But the detective said he had not used the words "cocaine" or "illegal drugs". "Did Robert Kissel ever tell you he used cocaine?" asked Mr Plowman. "Absolutely not," Mr Shea replied...

Robert Kissel's secretary at Merrill Lynch, Moris Chan, who testified yesterday, said she had helped arrange for the defendant to fly to San Francisco on November 16 to stay there for about a week. But Ms Chan said she had received an e-mail from Robert Kissel on October 31, 2003, saying: "Please do not pay until I agree." She said the defendant had gone to her husband's office to decorate his room with family pictures and pot plants in September while he was away.

The case continues today before Mr Justice Michael Lunn.

Update June 15th

* The Standard: Milkshake turned murder case witness into 'a baby'.

A neighbour of Nancy Ann Kissel passed out and later bizarrely treated himself to three tubs of ice cream after she served him and her husband a "strange" milkshake in her Parkview flat, the Court of First Instance was told yesterday. Andrew Tanzer yesterday described his first encounter with Robert Peter Kissel and his family on the fateful Sunday of November 2, 2003 - hours before the top American banker at Merrill Lynch was allegedly murdered by his wife. It was also the day when the deceased intended to discuss a divorce with his wife, the court heard.

The encounter began, Mr Tanzer said, when he and his seven-year-old daughter were stopped by the accused in her Mercedes while they were about to take a taxi at Parkview to travel to the United Jewish Congregation (UJC) in Mid-Levels. He said Kissel, also on her way to the UJC, offered them a ride after noticing his daughter carrying a schoolbag bearing the logo of the congregation's Sunday school. At the UJC, Mr Tanzer was introduced to the deceased and his children. His "sociable" daughter, recognising that the Kissels' eldest daughter, June, was also from Parkview, urged him to arrange for them to play together later. He recalled having a friendly conversation with Mr Kissel for almost an hour while their daughters were playing in the Kissels' flat that afternoon. He said he asked the deceased for a glass of water. June and his daughter later came out of the kitchen with two identical glasses of milkshake for him and Mr Kissel.

"It was a strange milkshake - fairly heavy, sweet, thickened ... with banana taste, crushed cookies, reddish, which I guess was from some strawberries or flavouring," he told government prosecutor Peter Chapman. "I have never drunk something like this before." Mr Tanzer said he found it odd that the defendant never came out to talk to him. Only once had she popped her head out of the kitchen, when they were drinking the milkshake. "I asked what was in it. She mentioned something like: It was a secret recipe," he said.

Shortly after returning to his flat at about 4pm, the witness said he blacked out and fell asleep. "I have not had such an experience ever before then or since then," he said. He had felt quite disoriented the next morning because he could not recall what had happened since 4pm the day before, even though he had not drunk alcohol that day.

His wife, Kazuko Ouchi, said yesterday she felt something was wrong when her husband returned home with a "very red face". "His eyes were not focused and he was not talking as usual ... Alcohol couldn't be a reason because he doesn't turn red with alcohol," she said, adding that she had thought about calling an ambulance. Ms Ouchi said her husband told her he had taken nothing but "a milkshake made by June's mother" when she asked if he was ill. She hit his cheeks and shouted when she realised he was falling asleep. "He couldn't lift himself up. I tried to [get] him up. But his body didn't move," she said.

When he woke at about 7pm, Ms Ouchi said he ate three tubs of ice cream in a "bizarre way ... like a baby ... with ice-cream dripping all over the place. "I couldn't imagine how much ice-cream he ate. I have never seen him behaving like this."

Robin Egerton, a family lawyer, told the court the deceased had told him his wife was "committing adultery" when he first consulted him about possible separation arrangements in late August 2003. Mr Kissel had said his wife was "unfazed" when he showed her bills with details of her phone calls to her alleged lover in the US. Mr Egerton said the deceased told him at a second meeting two days before his death that he was going to discuss arrangements about separation with his wife on the afternoon of November 2, 2003.

A written witness statement from Fung Yuet-seung, an assistant in a clinic on Icehouse Street, indicated that the defendant was prescribed tablets of Stilnox, Lorivan and Amitriptyline on her visit in October 30, 2003. The drugs were also found in the deceased's stomach, according to government laboratory tests.

The defendant has pleaded not guilty to murdering her husband, whose body was found rolled up in a carpet in a Parkview storeroom in November 2003.

The case continues today.

Update June 16th

* The Standard: Kissel breaks down in court.
* The SCMP:

The wife of a top American banker ordered her maid not to clean the master bedroom and sent her on a series of unusual errands - including buying a nylon rope and clearing out a storeroom - in the days after she allegedly murdered her husband, the Court of First Instance was told yesterday.

Maximina Macaraeg, one of two domestic helpers working for the family of Robert Peter Kissel, said Nancy Ann Kissel told her to skip the couple's bedroom when she was about to start her daily cleaning of the luxury Parkview flat on November 3, 2003. "The door to the master bedroom was closed... She told me to just leave it," said Ms Macaraeg. Kissel, 40, has pleaded not guilty to murdering her husband on or about November 2, 2003. The prosecution alleges she served him a drugged milkshake before bludgeoning him to death that Sunday.

The maid, who had worked for the Kissels since 2000, also recalled last seeing Robert Kissel at a Parkview car park shortly after 5pm on that Sunday. When Ms Macaraeg returned to the flat about an hour later, she saw the door of the master bedroom slightly ajar, the court heard. She said Kissel told her to tell the children to be quiet because their father "was sleeping in the room". The helper said Kissel told her she burnt herself on the oven when she asked about a bandage on her right hand on the following Tuesday. The accused again ordered her not to clean the master bedroom. "She told me they had a fight. Mr Kissel left the house and is staying in a hotel," Ms Macaraeg said.

On Wednesday morning while tending to the Kissels' youngest son, Ms Macaraeg said Kissel "all of a sudden" ordered her to take out all the boxes from a storeroom she rented in another block in Parkview and put them in the corridor. The body of her husband, who worked for banking giant Merrill Lynch, was found rolled up in a carpet in that storeroom in November 2003.

The accused then sent her to the Adventist Hospital to buy a Velcro belt, saying her ribs were hurting. When she returned to the flat, Kissel sent her out to a hardware store in Stanley to buy rope. She bought a piece of red-and-white bundled nylon the width of a little finger. Closed-circuit TV images played to the jury yesterday showed a woman, identified by the maid as Kissel, entering and exiting her flat numerous times on November 3. Images captured at about 2am showed Kissel going down to the car park and taking the lift back up to the flat in less than 15 minutes. It also showed her carrying a rug and a big suitcase in two separate instances that afternoon.

Samantha Kriegel, a friend of the accused, told the court Kissel called her on November 6 and asked if she could take over a fund-raising event she had been organising for the United Jewish Congregation. "She was very distraught ... she said she was dealing with issues about Robert's health," she said. She had met the defendant's father, Ira Keeshin, who she thought had just arrived from the US, during her brief visit to the Kissels' flat that morning to pick up the invitation cards for the event. "She looked terrible ... and seemed like she has been under lots of stress." Ms Kriegel said Kissel had asked her on the phone not to mention her husband's situation while in the flat for fear that "she will breakdown in front of the children". Kissel, who has often been expressionless during the trial, was in tears when the witness left the court.

The case continues today.

Update June 17th

* The Standard: Murder suspect 'could not forgive,; maid tells court.

The four-year-old son of top American banker Robert Peter Kissel had no idea that his father's corpse was being carried past as he held open the door of the family's Parkview apartment so four workmen could wheel out a "smelly" rolled up carpet, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday. Maximina Macaraeg, a domestic helper for the family, told the court the boy, the youngest of the three Kissel children, groaned from the smell when the men from Parkview's housekeeping office pushed their old carpet out on a trolley on the afternoon of November 5, 2003.

"It seemed that he smelled something funny. I pulled him [to me] and said: `Come here.' As I pulled him, I also smelled [something] smelly," she said. Testifying on the eighth day of a 40-day jury trial, Ms Macaraeg said that defendant Nancy Ann Kissel had ordered her to tell the workmen to move items, including the carpet, her husband's golf clubs and a cabinet in the master bedroom, to a storeroom she rented two blocks away. The defendant had told the maid she was tired and would retire to her bedroom when the workmen came.

The prosecution witness said the head workman asked her "why was it that the carpet ... was smelly?" when he returned with the key of the storeroom after finishing the job...Ms Macaraeg recalled she was admiring the two new carpets she found in the living room on the morning of November 5 when she saw the old carpet - which used to cover the floor of the living room - rolled up behind the couch. "When I saw it, I felt uncomfortable. Because I wanted to get rid of the bad feeling, I asked her: `What was that?'" Ms Macaraeg said. Kissel told her pillows and bed sheets were wrapped in the rug.

But the maid said she did not believe her because the old carpet roll was "so big". The maid said she called the other helper at the house, Connie, and told her that "Mrs Kissel might have done something wrong to Mr Kissel". The defendant had earlier told her that the deceased had an argument with her and was staying in a hotel. The witness was asked to identify a large number of items seized from cardboard boxes in the flat, including the metal ornament alleged by the prosecution to be the murder weapon. The object had a base about 15cm wide with two needles sticking up and two detached figurines of two girls kneeling in their dresses.

Ms Macaraeg said the ornament, which was also examined by Mr Justice Michael Lunn and the seven jury members, was originally placed on top of the cabinet in the master bedroom.

The helper yesterday described Kissel as a "good woman" with a "hot temper". "If you made a mistake, she would bang the door or whatever she sees," she said. But Ms Macaraeg said the defendant's temper only emerged in early 2002. She also observed a change in the couple's relationship, saying there was no more "sweetness" between them in early 2003.

The witness agreed when Gary Plowman SC, for the defence, asked her if she thought Kissel was more generous to Connie, who had worked for the family longer, than to her. She refused to look directly at Mr Plowman all the way through yesterday's cross-examination, even at the request of the counsel.

Ms Macaraeg was also shown the contents of the boxes in photos, including blood-stained bed sheets and towels. But she refused to look at the pictures of the face of the deceased.

The case continues today.

Update June 18th

* The Standard: Victim's home wide open, court hears.
* The SCMP:

A maid working for Nancy Ann Kissel yesterday denied telling police that Kissel had said, a day after she allegedly murdered her husband, that he had "hit and assaulted" her. Maximina Macaraeg told the Court of First Instance that the defendant only told her she had had "an argument" with her husband, and that the master bedroom was not to be cleaned.

Defence counsel Gary Plowman SC asked the witness why she had said in signed statements on November 7 and November 18, 2003, that "in the morning, Nancy told me she was hit and assaulted by Robert". The maid apologised and said she had not read the written statements properly before signing them. "That is my mistake, sir. I did not read them because the police hurried us," she said.

Ms Macaraeg also denied knowing that Nancy Kissel had broken ribs - as recorded in one of her earlier written statements - when she sent Ms Macaraeg to the Adventist Hospital to buy a Velcro belt for her on November 5, 2003. She told the court yesterday that her employer said only that her back was hurting. Mr Plowman asked her if Robert Peter Kissel was a strong person who liked to be in control of his family. Ms Macaraeg replied that he would discipline his children if they misbehaved. But she said he would never harm them.

Asked by Mr Plowman if the deceased would also discipline his wife, the helper said: "Possible."...Cross-examining Ms Macaraeg on the ninth day of the sensational trial, Mr Plowman asked her if she had noticed that the defendant had a black eye and was wearing dark glasses some time around September and October, 2003. The witness said she had not noticed it.

Mr Plowman also asked if she remembered Kissel wearing a Velcro belt some time in 2001. She said she did not see the belt, although the defendant had told her she broke her ribs after playing tennis at Aberdeen Marina Club at that time. She also remembered that her employer was limping with an injured ankle after the family returned from a vacation in Phuket. Otherwise, she said, she could not recall seeing any injuries on Kissel since she started working for the family in early 2000. The witness said she knew nothing about the deceased's drinking habits.

A sense of tension was revealed yesterday as the witness told the court how she detected a change of attitude on the defendant's part, starting from 2002. "I was not happy because her attitude was bad," she said. At one point around April that year, the maid said she decided to leave her job, but the defendant had said she could not. "I stayed in my room for five days, not doing anything. I kept waiting," she said. In the end, the deceased persuaded her to stay.

The defence counsel revealed yesterday that the metal ornament alleged by the prosecution to have been the murder weapon had been inherited by Kissel from her grandmother. Ms Macaraeg also told the court that many people walked in and out of the Parkview apartment after November 6, 2003. She said the police did not seal off the flat but only told her not go to the master bedroom.

The case will continue on Monday.

Update June 21st

* The Standard: Stressed banker 'beat wife'
* SCMP: "Court told of drug-fuelled assault on Kissel"

Nancy Kissel told one of her maids that cocaine, alcohol, power and money had driven her banker husband to assault her on the day she allegedly murdered him, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday. Conchita Macaraeg said Kissel showed her bruises and cuts on November 4, 2003, and told her she had had a fight with her husband two days earlier. Kissel, 40, is accused of bludgeoning Robert Peter Kissel, a senior Merrill Lynch banker, to death after serving him a drugged milkshake in November 2, 2003.

She has pleaded not guilty to murder.

"Mrs Kissel said Mr Kissel assaulted her, was very drunk and he was under the drug cocaine," Ms Macaraeg, the second domestic helper to give evidence, said. "She also said Mr Kissel kicked her ribs," said Ms Macaraeg, a Filipino who had worked for the family since 1998 and is sister-in-law to helper Maximina Macaraeg, who gave evidence last week. When she asked Kissel why her husband would assault her, "she said it was because of his work. He had a lot of stress. She also said it was because of power and money". Kissel also told her that her husband was probably staying in a hotel, the maid said.

The victim's body was found wrapped in a carpet in the storeroom at Parkview, the Tai Tam development where the Kissels lived.

Ms Macaraeg said that on the morning of November 5 she noticed the living room carpet was rolled up behind the couch. She asked Kissel: "How did you manage to roll it by yourself when you told me last night your ribs were very painful?" Kissel had replied that she had asked for help. The helper said she told the deceased's colleague David Noh of the "unusual events" and asked him to report the matter to the police as a missing person case.

After the conversation with Kissel, Ms Macaraeg went as instructed to buy towels and a bed cover for the master bedroom. "She told me she used a new [bed cover] because the old one reminded her of Mr Kissel and it made her very lonely." The head of a group of workmen called to the flat about 2pm that day, Chow Yiu-kwong, told the court of a smell "like salt fish" when they moved the carpet to a storeroom two blocks away. "When I squatted down to carry the carpet, I smelt something like what Chinese people eat - salt fish," Mr Chow said. His three colleagues from the Parkview housekeeping office also noticed a "strange smell" as they moved the carpet on trolleys, along with the deceased's golf bag, a cabinet, a piece of white flimsy paper and a few cartons.

Mr Chow said his group was received by a Filipino maid. But when he returned after completing the task, a foreign woman of medium build and golden hair opened the door and asked him if everything was alright. "I told her a smell came from the carpet. But she acted as if nothing had happened and then she said goodbye and closed the door," he said.

Ms Macaraeg was asked by government prosecutor Peter Chapman about the alleged affair between Kissel and Michael del Priore, a TV repairman, when the family stayed in Vermont, United States, in the summer of 2003. The maid said Mr del Priore started visiting to fix their sound system in May when the victim was there. In July, after the deceased returned to Hong Kong, Ms Macaraeg said Kissel told her Mr del Priore was bringing his daughter to play with her children. When "Michael and Mrs Kissel were together, she would tell me to go down and watch the children play", she said. The repairman was still with Kissel when Ms Macaraeg and the children retired to bed at about 10pm.

The maid also recalled another time in July when Mr del Priore visited at night to fix their telephone lines. She said she was woken about 11pm by Kissel's daughter, who slept with the accused, who said she could not find her mother.

The trial continues today.

Update June 22nd

* The Standard: Maid defends slain banker.
* SCMP: Kissel maid quizzed on daughter's broken arm:

The defence in the Robert Kissel murder case sought to paint a picture of the top banker as a fierce disciplinarian - questioning a family maid yesterday about how the Kissels' daughter came to suffer a broken arm while on holiday.
Gary Plowman SC, counsel for Nancy Ann Kissel - who denies murdering her husband - asked Conchita Macaraeg whether it was true that the deceased had pulled his toddler daughter June's arm twice to quiet her down, shortly before she was sent to hospital with a broken elbow during a family holiday in Phuket at Christmas 1999...Mr Plowman contended that the child and the Kissels' elder daughter, Elaine, were jumping around in the bedroom of a villa at the Sheraton Laguna Hotel after the family returned from dinner.

"I suggest that ... Mr Kissel received a mobile phone call and he asked his wife Nancy to tell the children to keep quiet so he could take the call. Because Mr Kissel was having difficulty with his mobile phone, he went into the bedroom and pulled June off the bed to tell her to behave herself and stop making noises," said the counsel. Mr Plowman asked whether it was true that June burst into tears and went looking for her mother and that as the defendant was asking her daughter what had happened, Kissel had pulled June by the arm again. "I suggest that there was an argument between Mr and Mrs Kissel about his rough handling of the children. Mrs Kissel accused her husband of being responsible [for what happened to their daughter]," counsel said.

Ms Macaraeg said Mr Plowman's version of events that day was wrong. The Filipino maid said June's elbow had been broken by Elaine, who is now nine, repeatedly jumping on her sister, now aged six, while they were playing and watching television in the living room of the villa. Ms Macaraeg said that the incident happened in the morning rather than after dinner. She also insisted the couple had not been there when June got hurt and that she had not heard them arguing about the injury. "What I know is that all of us panicked when June was crying ... and Mr Kissel told Elaine: `It's okay. It is an accident'," the prosecution witness said.

The maid agreed that the couple sometimes argued because the deceased took a firmer line than his wife in disciplining their children, and that the victim was a disciplinarian whereas the accused was "not so much" a disciplinarian. "Did Nancy believe that Robert Kissel was rough in the way he handled the children?" Mr Plowman asked. Ms Macaraeg said she did not know.

Asked about her knowledge of the deceased's drinking habits, the maid said she had not seen him drinking whisky. She said she could only recall once finding a crystal whisky tumbler in the kitchen sink on any morning in September or October 2003, and that the glass was cracked. She said Kissel had explained to her later that he had miscalculated when he put the glass in the sink without switching on the light the previous evening. Counsel asked her why she had told the defendant's solicitor in an interview in December 2003 that she would find a whisky glass in the sink of the Parkview flat two mornings a week during the period in question. "I don't remember saying this," she replied.

The Court of First Instance also heard yesterday that the accused bought 10 tablets of Rohypnol - known as the date-rape drug - on November 4, 2003.

The case continues today before Mr Justice Michael Lunn.

Update June 23rd

* The Standard: Trial told of 'turning point'
* SCMP: "Wife said 'you'll pay for this', court told:

Robert Peter Kissel told a friend that his wife Nancy had warned him "you will pay for that" after the wealthy banker pushed her aside in the middle of a heated argument, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday. David Noh, a close friend and colleague of Robert Kissel at Merrill Lynch, said the incident had marked the "turning point" in the couple's relationship in the mind of the banker, whose wife is on trial for murdering her husband.

Recalling what Robert Kissel had told him, Mr Noh said: "They had a disagreement. Nancy kept yelling at Rob ... He shoved her aside. She then said to him: `You will never live that down'." Asked by the prosecutor to elaborate, Mr Noh said the deceased told him Nancy had said: "You will pay for that." He could not recall when the incident took place, but said it "pinpointed when things started to go wrong".

Mr Noh worked under Robert Kissel in early 2000 at Goldman Sachs in a team that purchased assets of companies facing bankruptcy. The two moved to Merrill Lynch in August 2000, where Robert Kissel became Asia-Pacific managing director of global principal products and Mr Noh was second-in-command...Mr Noh said Robert Kissel had sounded "bizarre" during their last contact - a 10-minute telephone conversation about 5pm on November 2, 2003. Mr Noh said he was talking about real estate prices while the banker kept talking about export growth.

"Rob was on a different tangent. He said he was sleepy and tired ... He sounded sometimes slurred in his speech and very mellow. I had to stop him," he said. "Being his good friend, I made fun of him," he added. During the call, the deceased also told the witness about his intention to discuss divorce with his wife that evening, the court was told. As a result, when the deceased did not show up for a conference call as planned at 7.30pm the same day, Mr Noh said he thought his boss was still in the middle of the discussion with his wife.

After Robert Kissel failed to attend an important meeting the following day, Mr Noh said he phoned him a few times until he eventually reached Nancy Kissel. "She told me they had some family issues and Rob would call me back soon," he said. She gave him a similar reply on November 5, the court heard. Mr Noh said he made a missing person report at the Western police station on November 6, 2003.

He said yesterday the victim's primary concern in any divorce had been access to his three children. "He said he would give Nancy as much money as she needs to keep her lifestyle - even if it meant bringing her boyfriend to Hong Kong - so that he could see his children on weekends." Mr Noh said he first learnt from the deceased about the couple's marriage problems in May 2003.

The banker had lost hope in the marriage after he found phone bills - allegedly showing frequent contacts between the accused and her lover in Vermont, US - in her handbag in late September, Mr Noh said.

The hearing before Mr Justice Michael Lunn continues.

Update June 25th

* The Standard: Police 'misled' Kissel on purpose of interview
* The SCMP: Kissel denied she rented storeroom, officer tells court

Nancy Kissel denied having rented a storeroom at her luxury estate, Parkview, where she allegedly hid the body of her American banker husband rolled up in a carpet, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday. Yuen Shing-kit, formerly chief inspector of crime at Western District police station, said Kissel answered "no" when his teammate and officer in charge of the case, See Kwok-tak, asked if she had rented a storeroom in the Tai Tam residential complex shortly after 10pm on November 6, 2003.

Inspector See then told Kissel the police had confirmed with Parkview's management on an earlier visit on the same day that she had rented a storeroom and asked if she had the key, he told the court. The accused said no again and asked to talk in private to her father, Ira Keeshin, who arrived a day before from Chicago according to immigration records. Mr Yuen said Mr Keeshin suddenly jumped up with his palms on both sides of his head, saying "oh my God, I don't believe it" a few times while walking towards the officers.

"At that time, I looked at Mrs Kissel. I saw her sobbing ... shuddering more severely than the first time [when we entered the flat]," Mr Yuen said. "I sensed something unusual." The accused eventually handed over three keys to the officers after they told her father they had search warrants, the prosecution witness said. He then invited Kissel to go to the storeroom with his team. "She refused to go and said she would never go there," he said. Mr Yuen said he saw a big roll of carpet covered by a plastic sheet, a bag of golf clubs and some furniture when his team entered the storeroom. "I smelt a strong smell, [which] according to my experience was [from] a dead body," he said.

A pathologist cut open the wrappings of the carpet and inserted his hand into the roll and confirmed he could feel a human head at 2.15am on November 7, 2003...

Alexander King SC, for the defence, argued yesterday that Mr Keeshin said "oh my God, it can't be" instead of "oh my God, I don't believe it". He also suggested that Mr Yuen had told Mr Keeshin "I have children as well" in a show of sympathy after telling him "I am fairly confident we know what happened". But the prosecution witness said that was not the case. Mr King also argued that by the time police arrived at the front door of the apartment, they had already known they were investigating a murder, rather than a missing person case, and that Kissel was a suspect.

He said police had already acquired information from David Noh, a colleague and close friend of the deceased, about a large, smelly carpet in the storeroom when he reported the banker was missing to the Western District police station at about 4pm on November 6. The court also heard yesterday that the warrants issued by the magistrate had mentioned an investigation of a potential murder.

Mr Yuen said "correct" when the defence counsel asked him to confirm that his team had "at no time" cautioned the defendant while they were in her apartment on November 6. But he justified the failure to do so by arguing that murder was only one of a number of possibilities he had in mind at the time.

The case continues before Mr Justice Michael Lunn on Monday.

Update 28th June

* The Standard: Defense pounces on 'unfair police'
* ESWN has a couple of translations of Chinese press reports of the case.
* SCMP: Officer denies bid to trick murder suspect:

A defence counsel for Nancy Kissel accused a senior police inspector of "playing cat-and-mouse" with him yesterday after the officer repeatedly denied having tried to trick the murder suspect by pretending to be investigating a case of assault and a missing person when questioning her at her Parkview flat. Alexander King SC argued in the Court of First Instance that police already had reasonable grounds to suspect his client had killed her banker husband, Robert Peter Kissel, when they rang the doorbell of her luxury Tai Tam apartment after 10pm on November 6, 2003. Mr King said Kissel had never been cautioned or told of her right to silence during the officers' visit, which followed her report to Aberdeen police that her husband had assaulted her and a missing person report filed by Robert Kissel's colleague, David Noh, to Western District police the same day.

See Kwok-tak, the officer in charge of the case, said suspicions that Kissel had killed her husband were "not that great". Mr King asked why, if the senior inspector was investigating an assault case, he had not paid any attention to Kissel's description in the master bedroom about how her husband had beaten her up. Mr See said it was partly because Chief Inspector Yuen Shing-kit, who was also in the bedroom, was listening to the defendant. The second reason was his attention was drawn to the "abnormal" situation of the room, which he said was in disarray, with clothes and boxes everywhere and many travel bags in the bathtub of the adjacent en-suite bathroom.

Mr King asked the prosecution witness "whether the little suspicion you had about a murder, upon your entry to the bedroom, ignited into a very big and real suspicion that you are now investigating a murder?" "It was not that certain it was a murder case. But ... there were a lot of question marks," said Senior Inspector See, adding that the scene in the bedroom had prompted his decision to find out quickly what was in a storeroom at the Parkview estate. The court heard the witness had learned from estate staff during his first visit to Parkview earlier that day that the defendant had hired workers to carry a heavy, smelly carpet to a storeroom.

"You are just playing around with me ... like a cat playing with a mouse," Mr King told the witness...Mr King asked why Senior Inspector See had to return to the Western District police station instead of going straight to Kissel's apartment on November 6 after talking to the management staff.

The witness said he had to apply for search warrants before returning and that his team was concerned Kissel might not let them into the storeroom without a warrant. He also told the court yesterday he discovered that Kissel's laptop computer had gone missing when he returned to the apartment on November 12. Asked by government prosecutor Peter Chapman how he eventually recovered the computer, Senior Inspector See said it was given to his subordinate by a lawyer representing Kissel.

The witness also described how a colleague vomited after discovering stinking, blood-stained towels in a black plastic bag in Kissel's daughters' room.

The trial continues today.

Hi Jen.

Update 29th June

* The Standard: Kissel defense challenges police over arrest notes.
* SCMP: Omissions were my mistake: constable

A constable told the Court of First Instance yesterday that it had been her mistake not to record possibly vital evidence from a conversation between Nancy Kissel and police in the hours leading to her arrest for the bludgeoning death of her husband.
Ng Yuk-ying, attached to Western police station, said Senior Inspector See Kwong-tak had told her to take notes of the interview in the Kissels' luxury Parkview flat after 10pm on November 6, 2003. At the time, they were investigating missing-person and assault cases. Constable Ng had been told Kissel had alleged she had been assaulted by her husband, Robert Peter Kissel.

But Alexander King SC, for the defence, argued that the officers were trying to mislead his client because they believed at that time that the case was one of murder. He pointed out yesterday that nowhere in her three written records - two notebooks and her statement taken in November 2003 - did Constable Ng mention that the investigation on that day was related to an assault. "It was my mistake. I forgot to record that into my police notebook as well as my notepad," Constable Ng said. In her statement, Constable Ng wrote that on arrival at the apartment, Chief Inspector Yuen Shing-kit explained to Kissel "the purpose of the visit [was that] we were investigating a missing-person case".

"Would you agree that it was a mistake you made not once, but three times?" asked Mr King. "Yes," Constable Ng replied....Mr King asked Constable Ng why none of her notes could verify her claim that Kissel had asked for a lawyer after Mr See, the officer in charge of the case, showed Kissel search warrants and that she had said "no" when asked if she had the keys to the storeroom. "I did not write down each and every word on my record," she replied.

Mr King asked why she had referred to Kissel as "AP" - police terminology for "arrested person" - twice in the part of her notes relating to incidents that occurred around 11.30pm, more than three hours before Kissel was cautioned and arrested. Constable Ng said she had written it incorrectly and the second "AP" actually meant "accompanied her". "I wrote too fast, I made a mistake," she said.

Mr King suggested to Constable Ng that Kissel said repeatedly "He wouldn't stop. He wouldn't stop", and later on, "Make sure the children are okay", after some officers left the flat to search the storeroom. But she disagreed. Constable Ng said she had heard Kissel's father, Ira Keeshin, say "My God, I don't believe it" four to five times in the flat but had not recorded it. "That surprised me and I had forgotten to write that sentence down," she said. The witness told prosecutor Peter Chapman she had been able to take more-complete notes of the first part of the conversation because they were speaking slowly.

The court also heard, in a written statement by Senior Inspector Wong Po-yan, that Mr Keeshin had asked for photographs to be taken of his daughter's injuries when she was treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital after the arrest. But the witness said Mr Keeshin changed his mind after talking to defence lawyers on the afternoon of November 7.

The case continues today.

Update June 29th

* SCMP: Kissel jurors endure bloody stench:

Jurors at Nancy Kissel's murder trial endured a stomach-churning day yesterday as the prosecution paraded a large number of blood-stained items seized at the alleged crime scene. The items were taken from the master bedroom of the Parkview flat Kissel shared with her husband and included a large white pillow half soaked in blood.

A strong stench spread from the tiny court storeroom next to the public gallery as police officers removed trial exhibits for Cheung Tseung-sin, the constable tasked with collecting physical evidence from the Parkview premises, to identify. At one point, an officer had to close the door of the storeroom to stop the smell from spreading. Prosecutor Polly Wan asked officers to show the witness contents of the four black plastic bags retrieved from the bedroom of the accused's two daughters in November 2003.

Most of the items, including two white pillows, two pillow cases, two towels, three bed sheets, a duvet, a T-shirt and nine pieces of tissue paper, were splattered with blood that had turned brown. The exhibits, examined by government chemists and stored in transparent plastic bags, are alleged to have originated from the master bedroom of the luxury apartment...Senior Inspector See Kwong-tak, officer-in-charge of the case, had said earlier in cross-examination that the smell in one of the bags was so bad that his colleague immediately vomited in the flat when it was first discovered.

The defendant lowered her head as most of the blood-stained objects were carried across the courtroom for the witness, counsels, the judge and the jurors to examine. The deceased's father, William Kissel, was in apparent grief and held his head in his hands throughout the ordeal, refusing to look at any of the objects. The stench had by this time become so intense that some police officers, members of the jury and the public gallery had to cover their mouths and noses with their hands. Officers said they had done all they could to remove the smell before the exhibits were presented in court yesterday.

The portrayal of the alleged murder scene was continued by Senior Constable Chong Yam-hoi, following Constable Cheung's testimony in the afternoon. Constable Chong, asked yesterday to identify a series of photographs taken at the flat, told the court that the close-up shots revealed blood stains were found on the wall, floor, a cabinet and on photo frames in the master bedroom. The court also heard that samples of the deceased's hair, stomach, penis, nails and anus were tested in a government laboratory. Government chemists and forensics officers are expected to testify in the next two weeks.

The case continues today before Mr Justice Michael Lunn.

Another reason to try avoiding jury duty.

Update 1st July

* SCMP: Kissel defence queries 'white powder':

Nancy Kissel's defence counsel drew the attention of the Court of First Instance yesterday to photos showing what he believed to be "white powder" on the carpet of the Parkview bedroom in which she allegedly murdered her husband.
Chong Yam-hoi, the senior police constable assigned to collect physical evidence, said forensics officer Tam Chi-ching had told him on November 7, 2003, to cut a square of the bedroom's bloodstained carpet for analysis. Photographs taken by another officer that day and identified by the witness yesterday revealed a bloodstain between the bed and the chest of drawers.

Alexander King SC, for the defence, asked Constable Chong who had decided on the size of the carpet sample. He said he had not been given instructions on size. Mr King then directed him to look at one of the photos showing the carpet. "Can you see white powder on the carpet?" he asked. The constable said he was not sure. Mr King pointed out that on November 7 the photographer had taken shots of the master bedroom before moving to the kitchen. He asked the officer why the photographer had returned to the bedroom afterwards to take two more shots before moving to other areas of the Tai Tam flat. Constable Chong said there was no special reason.

The defence counsel drew the witness's attention to another photograph taken of the bedroom carpet during his investigation on November 8 and asked him again if he could see "what appeared to be white powder on the floor".

"I don't know if it was powder," Constable Chong said...The court has heard Kissel told her domestic helper her husband attacked her under the influence of cocaine and alcohol after she refused to have sex on November 2. When asked yesterday who decided what to seize in the flat on November 8, Constable Chong said he was acting on the instructions of Senior Inspector See Kwong-tak and a government chemist. He could not recall seeing two bloodstains on a pair of brown knee-length boots in the bedroom.

His team had not seized a green travel case in the master bedroom's bathroom or a car key kept in a small box in the kitchen as seen in photos Mr King showed him. Forensic officer Mak Chung-hung told the court he was called to assist the investigation of the Parkview storeroom in Tower 15 of the complex in the early hours of November 7. He said he measured the heavy, stinking carpet roll which was lying on the floor and found it was 205cm long, 60cm wide and 45cm high. There were four seat cushions on top of the carpet which had been bound tightly with adhesive tape.

The court heard earlier from a police officer that the deceased's body had been covered with towels and his head put in a black plastic bag which was tied with blue, nylon string. He had then been placed in his daughter's sleeping bag, which had been stuffed with more towels and plastic bags before being rolled up in the carpet.

The case continues on Monday.

* The Standard: Policeman quizzed about snaps taken in Kissel flat.

Update July 5th

* The Standard: Blood stains spattered around bedroom

Blood was spattered across at least three sides of the spacious master bedroom in the flat in which Nancy Kissel allegedly bludgeoned her husband to death, a scientific evidence officer told the Court of First Instance yesterday. Tam Chi-ching, the government laboratory expert who was called to examine the bedroom with police officers on November 7, 2003, said he identified tiny blood spots on a photo frame placed on the left side of the head of the bed, one side of a wardrobe, the outer wall of the en suite bathroom, a cabinet near the foot of the bed and a television set on top of the cabinet.

Asked by prosecutor Peter Chapman how many blood spots could be seen on the television set, Mr Tam said: "The whole screen." He also told the court a surface of the cabinet under the TV was also covered with blood spots. The witness said that even as he was in the corridor walking towards the master bedroom of the luxury Parkview flat in Tai Tam, he smelt a foul smell similar to that of a decomposing body.

...Mr Tam also recalled finding a piece of green carpet at one end of the bed. When he lifted it, he discovered another carpet underneath with a stain that looked like blood. The result of a chemical test he conducted at the scene confirmed it was blood, he said. A bloodstain was found on the bed when Mr Tam lifted a green bedcover and white quilt. Similar stains were found on a pillow, he said. He recommended that officers seize the quilt and pillow.

Mr Tam told jurors he found bloodstains and rubbing marks on the headboard of the bed. He also found some "dirty stains" on the tailboard and observed that a small part of the cloth covering it had been cut. "According to the spread of bloodstains [in the master bedroom], I was of the view that someone had been attacked," he said. He then told police to cordon off the room and asked a government chemist to attend the scene to conduct a blood pattern analysis.

When asked by defence counsel Alexander King SC how many areas had been tested that day, Mr Tam said only the carpet near the foot of the bed had been tested. The court also heard from another prosecution witness yesterday that the day after the bedroom investigation, police went to the car park of the Parkview development to search a Porsche car used by the deceased. Constable Chan Ping-kong, of Western police station, said his team found four books of insurance policies in a storage area under the car's bonnet.

He said two of the policies were under the name of the defendant, while the other two were under the name of the deceased. Evidence emerged earlier that the defendant was the beneficiary or primary beneficiary of three life insurance policies worth a total of US$5 million that her husband held with a New York-based insurance company, as well as two Merrill Lynch life insurance policies with a total value of US$1.75 million.

The hearing continues before Mr Justice Michael Lunn today.

Update July 7th

The case has been postponed until Monday.

Update July 12th

* The Standard: Banker did not put up a struggle, murder trial told.

There was no sign that Robert Peter Kissel put up a vigorous struggle when he allegedly was bludgeoned to death by his wife at the foot of their bed, jurors heard yesterday. But government chemist Lun Tze-shan was challenged by counsel for Nancy Kissel on why he had consciously omitted analysing samples from two bloodstains found near the head of the bed.

The chemist was called to analyse bloodstains in the bedroom of the Kissels' Parkview flat on November 8, 2003, six days after Nancy Kissel is alleged to have murdered her husband, a senior Merrill Lynch banker. She has pleaded not guilty. Mr Lun told the Court of First Instance the fatal attack could have happened at a low position in the space between the end of the bed and cabinets in the bedroom.

Identifying blood splatters or spots in seven areas of the bedroom from the photos he and his colleague took during their visit, Mr Lun explained that five of the stained areas - a TV screen, two cabinets, a brown paper bag and the rim of a wardrobe - were all at a low level around the foot of the bed. The remaining two areas - a framed painting and part of the wall below it - were near the head of the bed. DNA tests conducted on the blood samples seized from these areas showed they probably came from the deceased, he said.

Mr Lun said there was no sign of a vigorous struggle.

In the event of a struggle, "blood from the wounds of either of them would come into contact with furniture or the wall", Mr Lun said, and the stains would usually be "flattened out". But he had found no such bloodstains...Mr Lun said he believed the deceased was attacked when he was sitting or lying at a low position since there were no bloodstains higher on the walls or ceiling.

Defence counsel Alexander King SC asked Mr Lun why he had not mentioned in his report bloodstains found on a dehumidifier and a picture frame leaning against the wall on the floor near the bed head. Mr Lun said he noticed the stains but felt it was not necessary to record them and had not done a DNA analysis on them. "You made a conscious decision of not reporting the finding?" the defence counsel asked.

Mr Lun said he could already establish that blood was splashed from above on to the wall from two other bloodstains on the hanging picture and the part of the wall immediately below it.

The case continues before Mr Justice Michael Lunn today.


Update 13th June

* The Standard: Kissel crime scene expert sticks to guns under fire.

The basis on which a witness made his bloodstain pattern analysis in the master bedroom of Nancy Kissel's Parkview flat was "fundamentally flawed" because he had failed to locate a number of possible bloodstains and signs of wiped-off blood, defence counsel Alexander King SC told jurors yesterday. Mr King argued that the government chemist, Lun Tze-shan, had deprived Kissel of a fair trial by destroying notes he made during his three-hour investigation of the room on November 8, 2003, six days after she allegedly murdered her husband, Robert Peter Kissel.

Dr Lun, who was asked yesterday to identify photographs taken by a scientific evidence officer, agreed that most revealed what appeared to be bloodstains in the bedroom. But when asked why he did not record them with his other bloodstain findings in his report, he replied he could not recall, or, in some cases, it was unnecessary. The bloodstain locations he allegedly missed included the wall separating the en-suite bathroom and bedroom, the door, a pair of dumb bells and a piece of cardboard near the bed head, and the wooden frame of a wardrobe...

Dr Lun said one of the photos revealed "possibly two blood smears" on the wardrobe and the wall near the foot of the bed. He could not rule out the possibility they were caused by a struggle. On Monday, Dr Lun said there was no sign the deceased had put up a vigorous struggle when allegedly attacked at the foot of the bed.

"Is it true the failure of locating one or two bloodstains could lead an expert to an erroneous or flawed conclusion?" Mr King asked yesterday. "It could be," said Dr Lun. But he disagreed with Mr King's allegation that the basis of his analysis was fundamentally flawed. Dr Lun, who had said it was unlikely an elongated object had been used, clarified yesterday that he could only say "an elongated weapon was not used after it had blood on it" - since it would cast off blood, which he could not find.

He said he was not aware bedding had been changed and a cabinet, two chairs and an armchair had been moved from the room before his inspection. He had no idea the flat had been handed back to the family before his second inquiry in the room on November 12. Dr Lun said that shortly before his retirement in June last year, he destroyed a notebook containing notes he made during the November 8 inspection. Asked by Mr King why, he replied: "I did not want to keep any information relevant to the laboratory when I left because I believed it would be immoral." He had put the data in a computer file but did not have a printout.

"You destroyed those notes at the time you knew you were going to be a potential witness for a homicide case, did you?" Mr King asked. Dr Lun replied "yes". He also agreed that the effect of destroying his notebook was that the court could not check its contents. But he said he did not do it with the intention of depriving the court of a fair trial.

Mr King said the only available contemporaneous record the chemist made at the crime scene was the photos he took. But he argued yesterday that they were taken by a family digital camera and were of poor quality.

The case continues today before Mr Justice Michael Lunn.

Update 14th July

* The Standard: Kissel jurors look for bloodstains.

The jury in the Kissel murder trial was yesterday allowed its first close-up view of a blood-spattered television set and chest of drawers taken from the room where Nancy Kissel allegedly bludgeoned her husband to death. They were also asked to weigh with their hands a green carpet that CCTV footage appeared to show Kissel, 41, carrying at the Parkview estate on November 3, 2003, a day after she is alleged to have killed Merrill Lynch banker Robert Peter Kissel. A receipt for a carpet dated that day was found in her handbag, according to police. Three days later she told police her husband had assaulted her, causing multiple injuries.

Police officers in the Court of First Instance unwrapped the plastic sheeting covering the television set and the chest of drawers it sat on in the master bedroom of the Kissels' flat. Government chemist Lun Tze-shan testified on Tuesday said he found blood on the two items that was "probably from the deceased".

Constable Chan Kin-wah told the court he seized both items on November 12, 2003. The jury, lawyers and the judge took turns inspecting them. Constable Chan also identified a green carpet with a tag on one corner marked "CL 18" that matched a receipt from the furniture shop Tequila Kola which he took from the defendant's handbag. The receipt said: "4x6 feet, CL 18, taken, November 3, 2003"...Prosecutor Polly Wan asked the jury to look at a still from CCTV footage that showed the defendant carrying what appeared to be the green carpet. She then invited the jurors to carry the rug...The constable also identified other exhibits, including five bottles of pills from a kitchen cabinet, a mobile phone belonging to the deceased and samples of white powder found in the bedroom.

Defence counsel Alexander King SC also questioned Constable Chan about the three visits he made to the flat to conduct investigations. Mr King asked him whether he had been told by a superior to search the two rooms of the defendant's children during his first visit to the flat on November 12, 2003. He said he had investigated the room shared by the two daughters, but not the son's.

Constable Chan told the court he returned to the flat the next day after one of the Kissels' domestic helpers told police she had found items that had aroused her concern in "the wardrobe in the boy's room". His team seized plastic bags with a torn bedcover and stained tissue paper. The defendant's lawyer also told police to return on November 17 to collect more items.

The case continues today before Mr Justice Michael Lunn.

Update 15th July

* The Standard: Kissel DNA match 'probable'

Damage to a heavy metal ornament Nancy Kissel allegedly used to bludgeon her banker husband to death suggested "significant force" had been used, a forensic scientist testified yesterday.
The family heirloom, weighing 3.7kg, is in the form of two girls seated face to face on a base the size of a man's hand. The witness, Wong Koon-hung, told the Court of First Instance it appeared the figurines had been stuck into the base when the metal was still hot. In addition, three nails protruding from the base held them in place. The witness said he believed "a force had been applied to the back of the heads of the figurines", causing the two pairs of legs to bend upwards and become detached from the base on which they lay. "A five-year-old would not have the strength to cause such disfigurement but adults would certainly be able to do that," he said.

Asked by government prosecutor Ada Chan if considerable force was needed for the disfigurement, Dr Wong said: "It is a significant force, not considerable." The court has heard the ornament had been an heirloom from the accused's grandmother...Pang Chi-ming, the government laboratory's DNA typing expert, said the two figurines and the ornament's base were splattered with blood when he received them for tests in November 2003.

Dr Pang told jurors he had tested DNA taken from blood on the ornament's base against samples taken from the deceased's spleen and the accused's saliva, and found it matched the deceased. The chance that the blood came from any white American other than Robert Kissel was one in 429 billion, he said.

"You have any idea about the size of the population of the whole world?" asked the prosecutor. "It is about six billion," the witness replied.

Dr Wong said he found DNA matching Kissel and the deceased on a blue cord the prosecution says was tied around a sleeping bag into which the deceased's body had been pushed. He also found DNA from three people on a white rope the defendant is alleged to have wound around a rolled-up carpet containing the sleeping bag with the body. Dr Pang said he could not rule out that the defendant was one of the three people whose DNA was on the rope.

Prosecutor Peter Chapman, who read out evidence given by two other chemists yesterday, said laboratory tests on two samples of a white powder taken from the wooden portion of the bed and the carpet near the foot of the bed in the master bedroom where the murder allegedly took place contained sodium carbonate, a chemical found in cleaning agents.

The sample contained no dangerous drug, Mr Chapman said. Mr Justice Michael Lunn asked the prosecutor to confirm that the white power was not cocaine. The prosecutor said that was so.

The case continues today.

Update July 16th

* The Standard: Blood from accused, victim found at scene.

Blood samples that might have come from Nancy Kissel were found on the heavy metal ornament used to bludgeon her husband to death, a government chemist told the Court of First Instance yesterday. Pang Chi-ming, a DNA typing expert who testified as a prosecution witness for the second day yesterday, said his analysis revealed a mixture of DNA in the two blood samples obtained from the heads of two figurines on Kissel's heirloom. He told government prosecutor Ada Chan the possible sources of the DNA mixture were Kissel and the deceased.

Evidence given by Wong Koon-hung, a chemist who testified on Thursday, identified the back of the two figurine heads as the locations where "a significant force" had been applied. He added that this caused the legs of the two figurines - which lay flat on the base - to bend upwards.

Dr Pang said the blood samples extracted from other parts of the ornament, such as the top and bottom of the base, contained DNA that could only have come from the deceased. Dr Pang, who explained his DNA findings on a large number of bloodstained exhibits in court yesterday, said he found a blood stain between the third and fourth fingers of the interior of a black plastic glove the police seized from the Kissel daughters' room.

He told the jurors that DNA tests indicated the defendant was possibly the source of the stain and added that another bodily substance extracted from other parts of the glove was also possibly from her. The other bloodstained exhibits that were shown in court yesterday - including a number of cushions, pillows, and duvets - carried DNA possibly from the deceased, said Dr Pang.

The witness also told jurors that he found "quite a lot of blood" on a pair of navy blue shorts and a blue T-shirt exhibited in court yesterday. The clothing was allegedly worn by the deceased. The smell from the blood-stained items was such that the court interpreter wore a face mask and at least one juror covered his nose with a handkerchief.

In cross-examination, Alexander King SC, lawyer for the defence, asked Mr Wong why part of the DNA types taken from a carpet sample from the master bedroom could not be obtained. "Would a possible reason be that the carpet had been cleaned by sodium carbonate," asked Mr King.

Mr Wong replied: "I don't know if sodium carbonate would damage the DNA." He added he had not tested for the presence of the chemical, which is used in cleaning products, on the carpet sample. Asked if he had examined a piece of cloth found at the end of the couple's bed and the deceased's black pants, Dr Pang said his records showed that he had not done so.

The case continues before Mr Justice Michael Lunn on Monday.

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[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 19:13
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August 02, 2005
Kissel Update: Sodomy! Domination! Drugs! Money!

Sensationalist story today on Nancy Kissel's latest testimony in the Standard. Read all about it here.

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[boomerang] Posted by HK Dave at 07:56
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June 08, 2005
Kissel case begins

From the SCMP:

The wife of a top US banker murdered her husband by drugging his milkshake with sedatives before repeatedly striking his head with a heavy metal ornament, a court heard yesterday. Nancy Ann Kissel, 40, faced the first day of an eight-week jury trial in front of a packed public gallery. Kissel is charged with murdering her husband, Robert Peter Kissel, 40, on or about November 3, 2003 - the day after prosecutors allege he intended to tell her he was filing for divorce in the belief she had an affair with a television repairman while in the United States.

Kissel has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Government prosecutor Peter Chapman SC told the jury in his opening address that Kissel drugged her husband by "lacing a milkshake with a cocktail of sedative drugs while he drank it on that fateful Sunday afternoon".

When her husband was under the influence of the drugs, Kissel struck with a heavy metal ornament in "a series of powerful and fatal blows" to the right side of his head, Mr Chapman told the Court of First Instance.

The day after killing her husband, Kissel embarked on a cover-up to disguise her premeditated act, the court was told.

She wrote an e-mail to cancel a meeting with a friend she was supposed to see. "My husband is not well. I need to take care of something ... Sorry, I will be in touch soon," Kissel allegedly wrote on November 4, 2003.

Robert Kissel, whose body was found near their luxury apartment in Parkview, Tai Tam, on November 6, 2003, was the Asia-Pacific managing director of global principal products for banking giant Merrill Lynch. The couple came to Hong Kong in 1997.

Mr Chapman said Nancy Kissel met TV repairman Michael del Priore in early 2003 after she left Hong Kong with her three children because of the Sars outbreak and stayed in Vermont for four months. Mr del Priore had "become the man in her life in place of her husband".

Mr Chapman said the deceased hired retired New York detective Frank Shea in June 2003 to confirm his wife's relationship with Mr del Priore.

Two months before his death, Robert Kissel told the detective he was concerned about his own safety and believed his wife might have been drugging him.

Mr Shea advised him to contact the police and to have his blood and urine tested. "He had not gone to have the tests because he felt guilty about his suspicion."

Nancy Kissel was the beneficiary or primary beneficiary of three life insurance policies worth a total of US$5 million her husband held with a New York-based insurance company and two Merrill Lynch life insurance policies with a total value of US$1.75 million.

About four months before his death, realising the "deteriorating state" of their marriage, Robert Kissel also sought advice from lawyers Sharon Ser and Robin Egerton about divorce, jurisdiction, custody of children and financial matters. He did not make a new will although he was advised by Ms Ser to do so.

The jury was also told that in early 2003 the deceased installed a spyware programme to record activity - including e-mails - on a notebook computer used by his wife and a desktop computer at their home.

Copies of love messages allegedly written by Mr del Priore to Nancy Kissel were also retrieved from the deceased's office drawers. One said: "I love you when you call my name. It makes me melt."

The hearing continues today before Mr Justice Michael Lunn.

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[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 09:22
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May 27, 2005
Chinese reporting on the Kissel case

ESWN has translated a report from The Sun, a Chinese language Hong Kong paper, from just after the alleged murder was discovered. WARNING: this article contains typically graphic pictures. EastSouthWestNorth: The Nancy Kissel Case.

The English language press has no new reports today.

I've established a category of the Kissel case with all the relevant posts on the topic.

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[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 10:07
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May 25, 2005
Kissel trial begins

Phil reports on the start of the Kissel murder trial and the request by the defense to hold the trial in camera. As Phil and Doug discuss, it seems hard to justify closing off the court due to media interest. At worst the jury can be sequestered or told to avoid reports on the trial and under common law rules you cannot publish notes or details of trials until they are finished.

I was trying to organise coverage of the trial but I was unsuccessful. It appears there will be some mainstream media coverage, although again as Phil points out it seems blogs have been far more prominent in providing information on the case. Vive le revolution.

Below the fold I've included the SCMP's article on the trial from today, which can also be found as the AP wire article the Phil found.

A murder trial began on Wednesday for an American woman accused of beating to death her husband, a senior executive at the Wall Street investment bank Merrill Lynch. Nancy Ann Kissel, 40, a Minnesota native who has pleaded innocent, looked calm as she appeared in Hong Kong’s High Court on a charge of murdering Robert Kissel, the Asia-Pacific managing director of debt markets at Merrill Lynch’s Hong Kong office.

Defence lawyer Gary Plowman sought permission from the judge to continue the hearing behind closed doors. He argued that both the local and international press had shown “considerable interest” in the case and the media reports might involve details that could jeopardize a fair jury trial for the defendant.

High Court Judge Michael Victor Lunn did not immediately rule on the request.

Kissel, born in Minneapolis, was arrested in November 2003 shortly after police found her husband’s body wrapped in plastic sheets and a carpet in an underground storeroom the couple had rented near their luxury apartment.

The victim, a native of New York, had died of head injuries. He had formerly worked for investment bank Goldman Sachs in Hong Kong.

I've established a category of the Kissel case with all the relevant posts on the topic.

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[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 18:58
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May 21, 2005
Nancy Kissel trial updates

Some updates on the Nancy Kissel trial. Today's SCMP:

The wife of investment banker Robert Kissel had her bail extended yesterday after a closed-door hearing at the Court of First Instance.

Nancy Ann Kissel, 40, has pleaded not guilty to one count of murder over the death of her husband, a top executive with US investment banking giant Merrill Lynch, whose body was found dead near their luxury apartment in Parkview, Tai Tam, in November 2003. Kissel's bail conditions were not known. The case was adjourned until Wednesday.

Yesterday's SCMP also reported Mrs Kissel pleaded not guilty and the Government objected to a bail extension. The defence asked for a postponement of the trial to continue study of the evidence.

I've established a category of the Kissel case with all the relevant posts on the topic.

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[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 11:10
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April 25, 2005
Nancy Kissel pre-trial hearing today

The Nancy Kissel pre-trial hearing is today at 9:30am at the High Court.

I am still looking for any freelancer in Hong Kong who would be prepared to report on the trial for me. The trial begins on May 19th. Please send me an email if you can help.

I've established a category of the Kissel case with all the relevant posts on the topic.

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[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 10:18
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February 15, 2005
SCMP catches up on Kissel

The Robert Kissel murder has generated a huge amount of interest. Last week I noted the SCMP finally covering the upcoming case, 3 months after I had obtained the same information. Today "Spike" from the SCMP left this comment:

Why the bitchy tone Simon? You moan when the papers don't report the story and then you moan when they do...just because a piece of info apears on an obscure website, surely this does not preclude it being given a much wider audience in a newspaper at a later date?
I responded by saying the difference between news and history is in the timing. I'll leave it to you to decide if 3 months is a tight deadline for Hong Kong's premier English-language newspaper to report on the case. Where I really take issue is the second part of Spike's comment. "Obscure" this site may be, but that makes my beating them to the punch on this by three month even more embarrassing (not to mention Phil's extensive coverage as well). But does Spike's logic follow? No. Not at all.

Spike's implication is the SCMP has performed a service in its report by bringing the story to a wider audience. That's some extent. The article is reproduced in the extended entry. It is a recap of the case with the details of the upcoming trial. There is not a single shred of new information in the article. Yet the editor felt it deserved a banner headline and the top spot above the fold on the front page. I'm glad the SCMP are finally starting to cover the case. I hope they continue to cover the case. But I hope they do so in a timely manner. That was my implication in my "bitchy" post. At least we seemed to have moved on from if they will report it to when. That's progress of a sort.

It begs a broader question. When does news cease to be news? It would seem according to Spike it is when a newspaper decides. Information is not exclusive. If it appears on an obscure website it is obviously not precluded from appearing in a newspaper as well. What is odd is when it appears in a prominant position in a hundred year old newspaper three months (and more) after the same information appeared on the obscure website of an amateur.

That's why the bitchy tone, Spike. It's all in the timing.

Wife of Merrill Lynch banker to stand trial for his murder

Niall Fraser

A woman accused of killing her husband, a top American banking executive, has been free on bail since November and will stand trial for his murder in three months' time.

Nancy Ann Kissel was released on bail after a closed-door Court of First Instance hearing before Mr Justice Michael Burrell on November 4.

Her release came almost a year after the body of her husband, Robert Kissel, was discovered near their luxury apartment in Parkview, Tai Tam.

Kissel was Asia-Pacific managing director of global principal products for banking giant Merrill Lynch.

Nancy Kissel, 40, has pleaded not guilty to one charge of murder and the trial is due to start in the Court of First Instance on May 19 before Mr Justice Michael Lunn. The proceedings are expected to last at least 20 days.

A pre-trial review hearing has been set down for April 25.

The last public records of Kissel's progress through the courts were those of her non-appearance at two hearings before a magistrate in Eastern Court because she was unwell.

In June last year in Eastern Court, Kissel pleaded not guilty to murder and was remanded in custody. No bail application was made at that point and the case was transferred to the Court of First Instance.

On November 1, at a chambers hearing before Mr Justice Michael Burrell, Kissel was granted bail pending reports.

She was formally released on bail three days later.

It is understood that the couple's two daughters, who are aged nine and six, and their three-year-old son have returned to the United States.

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[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 13:43
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February 07, 2005
Kissel case scoop

This site, November 10th, 2004: On April 25th 2005 there is a pre-trial review of the [Nancy Kissel murder] case at the High Court, estimated duration 30 minutes.
On May 19th 2005 the case proper begins, estimated to take 20 days.

South China Morning Post, February 6th, 2005: exactly the same information, plastered on the front page above the fold.

Expect to read the SCMP's coverage of the Kissel murder trial in May...2006.

I've established a category of the Kissel case with all the relevant posts on the topic.

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[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 09:35
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November 10, 2004
The Kissel murder

Just over a year ago Robert Kissel was murdered and his wife, Nancy, was arrested for the crime. It briefly hit the headlines in Hong Kong and then rapidly fell from view. Phil has been following the case, reporting on Nancy's first court appearance (after a delay), another brief appearance, the delay in the trial date, a summary of HK's legal system, and he noted the hunt for information on the case via Google and other means due to the general media silence on the matter.

The lack of media coverage of this case has been staggering. Like it or not, a murder of an expat, allegedly by his wife, shuold be big news. But this story seems to have been deliberately buried by the English press (read the SCMP) despite keen interest from many of its readers. Instead of filling its pages with puff pieces they should actually try reporting stories their readers want to see.

There is still very little information on the trial. If the SCMP won't do it the job, I will. Any information about the case will be gratefully received.

Update: When you have Xinhua reporting how Tung Che-hwa has sung the praises of your newspaper, you know its turned from a journal of record and investigation to a Government mouthpiece.

I've established a category of the Kissel case with all the relevant posts on the topic.

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[boomerang] Posted by Simon at 09:19
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