The Nancy Kissel Case - Part 15

(The Standard)  Defense pounces on 'unfair police'.  By Albert Wong.  June 28, 2005.

A police inspector was accused by the defense in Monday's session of the milkshake murder trial of short changing accused killer Nancy Kissel's rights by interviewing her under false pretenses during the initial investigation into her husband's slaying.

Senior counsel for the accused, Alexander King, asked senior inspector See Kwong-tak why he gave Kissel the impression he was conducting a missing person investigation, despite having obtained search warrants on the basis of a murder investigation.

"We suspected that the deceased might have been killed inside the premises. But we did not have a firm suspicion that the defendant had killed her husband at that stage,'' See said.

Frustrated with See's answers, King said, "You are playing around with me with these answers like a cat playing with a mouse.''

The police gained entry on the "pretense'' of acting on a missing person's report, King suggested, because they would not have to caution her and inform her of her right to silence.

Nancy Kissel, who is out on bail, is accused of murdering her husband, Merrill Lynch banker Robert Kissel, on the night of November 2, 2003 after serving him a milkshake laced with drugs and then clubbing him to death and stashing his body in a storeroom. She has pleaded not guilty.

Kissel had told police that her husband was drunk on the night of November 2 and assaulted her after she refused to have sex.

She told one of her domestic helpers that the banker had taken cocaine, kicked her in the ribs and disappeared.

After receiving a missing person report and information about a "large stinky carpet'' from a friend and former colleague of Kissel, the police conducted inquiries and a subsequent investigation at the Parkview apartments in Tai Tam on November 6.

While allegedly investigating an assault and a missing person report, police officers went into the master bedroom of the Kissel residence.

Seeing that the room was in a mess, See said his "instinct'' told him that something was wrong and so he decided to ask Kissel about the storeroom.

Initially, the accused said she knew nothing about a storeroom, See said.

Later, she talked privately to her father as police waited in the living room.

See said they were within sight, but that he could not hear what they were saying.

"After that, he [the father] walked out to the living room and said, `Oh my God, I don't believe it' four or five times,'' while holding his head in his hands, See said.

King began his cross-examination after the senior inspector maintained that his intention was to investigate Kissel's assault claim as well as the missing person report.

"I had a little suspicion that the deceased had been killed. But I did not have a deep suspicion that the defendant had killed her husband,'' See said.

Asked if he had ignored Kissel's description of the alleged assault, See replied that he had been distracted by the "disarray'' in the bedroom and that another officer was assigned the task of taking notes. See said he did not know whether that officer was paying attention.

The note taker, Yuen Shing-kit, testified last Friday that her recollection of what the accused was describing was "sketchy.''

See said that, on entering the master bedroom, he suspected something was wrong and had neglected to ask the officer Yuen to enter the room as well.

King suggested that the "disarray'' in the bedroom sparked his suspicion. See disagreed and said he was "still not that certain it was a murder case.''

King pressed the point that the officers had obtained a search warrant on the "very real suspicion that Mr Kissel was already dead,'' a point See would not concede.

Referring to the search warrants, King pointed out that See wrote, "It is very suspicious that Mr Kissel had been killed by his wife and was concealed by the carpet inside the storeroom which was rented by Mrs Kissel.''

"So are you telling the magistrate that Mr Kissel is dead, that you suspect his wife is responsible and you suspect a body is inside the carpet?''

"Yes,'' replied See.

"Are you still saying that, when you rang the doorbell at 2250, your suspicion of murder was still only a very little suspicion?'' asked King.

"If we had a real suspicion, I would not apply for a search warrant, I would apply for an arrest warrant,'' See said.

See agreed with King that he would have had to caution and inform Kissel of her right to silence before he asked her any questions regarding a murder.

King pointed out that, if they had wanted to investigate an assault claim and a missing person report, they could have visited Kissel without waiting for a search warrant obtained on the basis of a murder investigation. He also pointed out that they could have opened the storeroom without asking the accused for the keys.

Earlier, See said police had also gone to the residence on November 7 to search for exhibits. See went again on November 8, at which time he found foul-smelling black plastic bags containing blood-stained items.

Control of the residence was returned to the domestic helpers on November 8, but he returned on November 12 to seize the couple's computers, See said.

(SCMP)  Officer denies bid to trick murder suspect.  By Polly Hui.  June 28, 2005.

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.

Kissel, 41, is accused of drugging and then bludgeoning her husband to death on or around November 2, 2003, before concealing his body in a carpet roll in a storeroom. She has pleaded not guilty.

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.

Here are some additional pieces of information from the Chinese-language media:

(Ming Pao)  Senior inspector See Kwok-tak testified that four days after the murder occurred, the police received a report and went to the Kissel home to investigate.  He found that the master bedroom to be in chaos, with an unmade bed and clothes scattered everywhere.  Later, he went back to the Kissel home again, and found a black plastic garbage bag containing a towel and a pillow that were bloodied and stinking.  One of his team members was unable to stand the smell and promptly threw up in the bathroom.

Senior inspector See Kwok-tak said that on June 11, the friend of the deceased filed report at the police station to the effect that the defendant had moved a large stinking carpet to a storage room in the next building and the movers had said that the carpet was 2 feet in diameter.  On that evening, he and his team members went to investigate at the Kissel home.  At the time, Nancy Kissel took them into the master bedroom.  He observed that the room was in disarray.  There were unpacked paper boxes.  The bathroom was in a mess, with traveling bags in the bathtub.  See thought that something was askew.  Later, he and his team members went to the storage room and found the large stinking carpet in which the body of the deceased was wrapped.

(Apple Daily)  Senior inspector See Kwo-tak testified that when the police went back to the Parkview apartment to search, the Filipina maid pointed out to them that there were two black plastic bags in the children's room and she had not seen them before.  When the police officers opened the bag, there was a stench.  One police officer began to vomit.  Inside the plastic bag were a bloodied pillow and towel.