The Nancy Kissel Case - Part 14

(  Hong Kong American clubbed husband to death. He wanted divorce.  June 24, 2005.

An American woman accused of poisoning and clubbing her banker husband to death in Hong Kong had told police he had beaten her up before he disappeared, a high court heard on Friday.

Nancy Kissel, 40, is accused of feeding her husband, Robert, a glass of strawberry milkshake laced with anti-depressants and hypnotic drugs on Nov. 2, 2003, before clubbing him to death that night, charges which she has denied.

Kissel's murder and his wife's arrest shocked Hong Kong's expatriate community and the case has riveted the city since the trial opened earlier this month. Police officers told the court Nancy had gone to a police station on Nov. 6 to report that Kissel, a managing director with Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong, had gone missing after assaulting her when she refused to have sex with him on Nov. 2.

Police Sgt. Mok Kwok-chuen said he saw bruises on Nancy's face and arms when she visited the Aberdeen police station on Hong Kong island. Mok said Nancy produced a medical report dated Nov. 3 from a private doctor which gave details of her injuries. "She told me she was pushed against the wall and beaten up by her husband. Then he left their flat and she did not know his whereabouts after that," Mok told the court.

Nancy, a slight figure who had kept mostly an expressionless appearance throughout the trial, trembled and sobbed silently when prosecutor Peter Chapman read out the medical report which described the multiple bruises and swelling on her limbs and other parts of her body. The report also said she sustained "fractures in her right lower rib and left hand", Chapman read. Robert Kissel had planned to tell his wife on the night of Nov. 2, 2003, that he was divorcing her after discovering she was having an affair with a TV repairman in the United States and fearing that she was plotting to harm him, prosecutors said earlier.

Police found Kissel's body on Nov. 6, 2003, in a storeroom that the couple rented in the luxury residential estate where they lived with their three children. Prosecutors said Nancy disposed of the body by wrapping it in a carpet and then asked four workmen on the estate to take it to the storeroom. Kissel had become suspicious of his wife in August 2003 after installing spy software on their home laptop.

Using the software, Kissel traced his wife's email correspondence with her lover. Kissel also found that she had searched the Internet using key words such as "drug overdose". Prosecutors said he told a private detective and a friend in the United States that he was concerned his wife might be trying to harm him. Prosecutors said she apparently met the repairman when she returned to the United States with their three children to escape the SARS epidemic earlier in 2003. The trial continues. It is expected to last until mid-August.

(The Standard)  Police 'misled' Kissel on purpose of interview.  By Albert Wong.  June 25, 2005.

The chief inspector involved in investigating the murder of Merrill Lynch banker Robert Kissel was asked by the defense Friday to explain to the High Court why, when questioning Kissel's wife, he had indicated he was investigating a missing person report and her claims of assault - even though he already suspected her husband had been murdered and his body hidden in a storeroom.  Although police had been granted search warrants on the suspicion that Nancy Kissel had murdered her husband, police did not inform her of her right to remain silent, but instead told her they were investigating her assault claims and missing person report, the defense claimed.

Kissel, 40, is accused of serving her husband a pink milkshake laced with sedatives and then beating him to death while he lay unconscious at the foot of their bed on November 2, 2003.  She has denied the charge and is out on bail.

On November 6 that year, Kissel filed an assault charge, claiming her husband beat her up while he was drunk after she refused to have sex with him. That same day, Robert Kissel was reported missing. Police arrived at the Kissels' Parkview residence later that night and, in the early hours of November 7, found Robert Kissel's decomposing body in a storeroom, packed in plastic film and wrapped up in an old rug.

Chief Inspector Yuen Shing-kit told the court Friday he interviewed Nancy Kissel on the night of November 6 following her assault claims and missing person report.  He said Kissel then described where the alleged fight took place. She first denied any knowledge of the storeroom but, after a private conversation with her father, surrendered the keys.

Senior counsel for Kissel, Alexander King, pointed out that the police had been granted search warrants on the basis of a murder investigation prior to that interview.  A team of 12 officers conducted a preliminary inquiry and no one took detailed notes of Kissel's description of the fight, even though she was told they were investigating her claims.

King suggested to Yuen that, at the time of the interview, police had already been informed by the Parkview management office that a "large stinking carpet'' was moved to a storeroom on Kissel's instructions and "with your long experience, you must have already had a real suspicion a body was in the carpet.''  Yuen said there were "other options'' and the smell could have come from a dead animal.

"But you weren't investigating any missing animals were you?'' King asked. Yuen replied, "No.''

"When you went to make inquiries at the management office, did you know what [then] superintendent Nat Nichols was doing?'' King asked.  Yuen replied he was "around'' and "in the vicinity.''  King told Yuen evidence will be produced later to show that, before any search warrant had been granted, two officers were already in the vicinity of the storeroom.

Yuen agreed with King that he would be failing in his duty if he "allowed a crime scene to be contaminated in any way.'' King pointed out that, when police obtained the search warrants, they could have opened the storeroom without asking for the keys.

"Whose decision was it to go back and speak to Mrs Kissel?'' King asked.  Yuen said it was Nichols' decision.

"You didn't tell her that you were investigating a murder, did you?'' King asked.  "No,'' Yuen said.

He said when he and the other officers arrived at the Kissel residence, they informed Nancy Kissel they were investigating a missing person report and the assault on her, and were allowed to enter.

King suggested that, since Yuen took no notes and had only a sketchy recollection of Kissel's description of the alleged assault, he was not really interested in the assault and was, instead, focusing on the alleged murder.

"At no time while in the apartment did you caution her, tell her you suspected she had been involved in the death of her husband and had the right to remain silent. Nor had you informed her that you had search warrants on the basis that she had killed her husband,''King said. Yuen agreed.

On requesting the key to the storeroom, Yuen said that Kissel and her father had a private conversation during which he clasped his head with his hands and exclaimed repeatedly, "Oh my God, I don't believe it.''

King suggested that her father had actually said, "Oh my God, it can't be.''  Yuen disagreed.  

"Did you make a note of it?'' King asked.  "No,'' Yuen replied.

King pointed out that a substantial amount of evidence had been taken from the hard drive of Robert Kissel's computer, because of the information gathered by spyware which was sent to his e-mail address.

"Are you aware that the police at no stage seized the hard drive of Mr Kissel's work computer in his Merrill Lynch office?'' King asked.  Yuen did not know that, and agreed that the fact the computer was in the Merrill Lynch office did not mean it could not be seized.

Earlier in the trial, Kissel's secretary at Merrill Lynch testified that his office had been left unlocked for six months.  Yuen explained he did not know about the part of the investigation involving the office because "Mr Nichols dealt with Merrill Lynch personally.''

The trial continues before Justice Michael Lunn Monday.

(SCMP)  Kissel denied she rented storeroom, officer tells court.  By Polly Hui.  June 25, 2005.

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.

Kissel, 40, is accused of drugging and bludgeoning her husband to death on or around November 2 before wrapping his body in an old carpet. She has pleaded not guilty to murder.

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.

(The Standard)  Right to silence, assault and cocaine.  By Albert Wong.  June 27, 2005.

The Nancy Kissel murder trial enters its 14th day today with inspector See Kwong-tak, who investigated the alleged murder, continuing his testimony in the High Court before justice Michael Lunn.  See was only able to testify briefly late Friday afternoon before court was adjourned that he was on duty on November 6 and consequently took part in the murder investigation.

Nancy Kissel, 40, who is out on bail, has pleaded not guilty to murdering her husband, former Merrill Lynch banker Robert Kissel.

Earlier Friday, the inspector's colleague, chief inspector Yuen Shing-kit, said that when he went to interview Nancy Kissell on November 6 about her assault claims and the missing persons report, she described to him how the alleged assault took place in the master bedroom. When she was asked about a storeroom, she said she didn't know of one. After she was informed they had search warrants, she delivered the keys to the storeroom.

Senior defense counsel Alexander King suggested that Yuen never intended to assist her in her assault claims and was already investigating a murder and yet he failed to inform her of her right to silence.

The prosecution alleges that Nancy Kissel researched drugs required for an overdose and bought the "date rape'' drug Rohypnol from a Wan Chai clinic in late October. She allegedly served her husband a pink milkshake laced with sedatives, which left him unconscious while she bludgeoned him to death with a heavy metal ornament on November 2, 2003.

On November 6, Nancy Kissel told the police that her drunken husband had assaulted her, kicked her in the ribs and then disappeared after she refused him sex. She also submitted a medical report on abrasions and bruises to her body.

Later that same day, David Kissel's friend and colleague David Noh submitted a missing persons report and police officers visited the Kissel residence later that night. The banker's decomposing body, packed in plastic film, sealed up with adhesive tape and rope, and wrapped in an old rug was found in storeroom 15112 in the Parkview premises in the early hours of November 7.

Last Monday, the court heard that the accused told her domestic helper a day after the alleged murder that power, money and the stress of being a top Merrill Lynch banker led her husband to snort cocaine, get drunk and assault her.

However, Conchita Pee Macaraeg said Robert Kissel was a "thoughtful and loving (father) - never shouts and never hot-tempered at all.''  She did not think he had a drinking habit. Nancy Kissel also "treated me like a sister'' and was a very good mother, she said. Pee Macaraeg still cares for the Kissel children in the United States.