The Nancy Kissel Case - Part 18

(The Standard)  Policeman quizzed about snaps taken in Kissel flat.  By Albert Wong.  July 1, 2005.

A police exhibit officer who took part in the seizure of evidence and taking of photographs in the Kissels' Parkview residence immediately after the discovery of former banker Robert Kissel's body, was questioned Thursday about how it was decided what items to seize.

Police constable Chong Yam-hoi was led through the prosecution photographs of the Kissel residence by the defense counsel in the sequence that they were taken in an attempt to reconstruct what led him to seize certain exhibits or take photographs of specific areas.

Nancy Kissel is accused of bludgeoning her husband to death with a heavy metal ornament on November 2, 2003, after serving him a pink milkshake laced with sedatives which left him unconscious at the foot of their bed.  She has denied the charge and is out on bail. She told police and doctors at the time that her drunken husband had assaulted her and then disappeared.

The Merrill Lynch banker's decomposing body was discovered in the early hours of November 7, wrapped in a carpet in a storeroom at the Parkview residential complex in Tai Tam.  Police recovered bloodstained items from the Kissel apartment that afternoon and the next day.

According to Chong's witness statement made on November 27, Chief Inspector Yuen Shing-kit and Superintendent Nat Nichols went to the Kissel apartment on November 7.

Senior counsel Alexander King asked Chong if he recalled seeing either Yuen or Nichols in the apartment while he was carrying out his duties.  "I remember they came to the place, but I can't remember whether they entered the premises,'' Chong said.

On November 8, the Kissels' domestic helper told police of two more black plastic bags containing blood-stained items in the daughters' room.

Senior Inspector See Kwong-tak was also present on November 8 but, according to Chong, he was not directly involved in seizing the bloodstained items.

King established Thursday that Chong acted on November 7 and 8 on the instructions of a scientific officer, who decided which items were to be seized.  Asked about photographs of bloodstains around the master bedroom, Chong confirmed he had directed that the photographs be taken. He could not remember whether the scientific officer was nearby at the time.

Referring to a picture of a wall, King asked, "Is there a spot there on the wall that you discovered and believed to be blood?'' Chong acknowledged he asked for the photograph to be taken.  Referring to a photograph of a photo frame, King asked what he thought the two spots on the frame were.  "Bloodstains,'' Chong said.

Referring to a picture of a pair of brown knee-length boots, King asked: "Do you see two bloodstains on these boots?'' Chong replied: "They could be bloodstains.''  Chong confirmed he was not instructed to seize the boots.

King also attempted to point out "staining'' in different parts of the apartment.  Chong confirmed he only cut out carpet pieces by the foot of the bed, which he believed to be stained with blood. He also confirmed that he did not search the daughters' room on November 7.

Scientific officer Mak Chung-hung testified he found no signs that the door to the storeroom had been forced open. His first impression of the "large roll'' when he opened the storeroom was of a very strong odor and that the roll seemed to have been securely wrapped with adhesive tape and rope.

The trial continues Monday before Justice Michael Lunn.

(SCMP; no link)  Kissel defence queries 'white powder'.  By Polly Hui.  July 1, 2005.

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)  Kissel murder trial to enter 18th day.  By Albert Wong.  July 4, 2005.

A police scientific officer who was one of the first to inspect a ''large roll'' of carpet will finish testifying today about his initial observations on the 18th day of the Nancy Kissel murder trial.

Officer Mak Chung-hung began giving evidence last Thursday.  He said when he entered storeroom 15112 in the Kissels' Parkview residential complex, the first thing he noticed was the "large roll'' of carpet and strong odor that seemed to be coming from it. The carpet appeared to be securely wrapped with tape and rope.

Kissel, 41, is accused of beating her husband to death with a heavy metal ornament on November 2, 2003, after serving him a pink milkshake laced with sedatives that left him unconscious at the foot of their bed.  Friends of former Merrill Lynch banker Robert Kissel have testified that he believed his wife had a secret lover in the United States and had planned to discuss divorce proceedings the night of his murder.

Kissel told a doctor and the police at the time that her drunken husband assaulted her after she refused him sex and then disappeared. She denies the murder charge and is out on bail.  The banker's decomposing body, wrapped in a carpet and emitting a foul smell, was discovered in the Parkview storeroom at Tai Tam in the early hours of November 7.

Last week, police officers testified that they had originally gone to the premises to investigate a report concerning a missing person and Nancy Kissel's assault claim.  Senior inspector See Kwong-tak said Monday "instinct'' told him he should check the storeroom after he saw the master bedroom was in "disarray.''

He said Nancy Kissel had a private conversation with her father, Ira Keeshin.  He could not hear what they were discussing, but Keeshin then walked towards him, saying, "Oh my God, I can't believe it,'' four to five times while clutching his head. The keys to the storeroom were then handed over and the body found.

Senior counsel Alexander King, defending, pointed out that See had already obtained search warrants on the basis of a murder investigation. But See insisted he only "had a suspicion'' and the primary purpose of the visit was to investigate the report concerning the missing person and the assault claim.

King said See was answering "like a cat playing with a mouse.'' He suggested to See that the police had gained entry on the "pretence'' of investigating the two matters because they would not have to caution Kissel and inform her of her right to silence under that scenario.

Tuesday, the designated note-taker for the investigation on November 6, Ng Yuk-ying, said she failed to record the accused's demonstration of the alleged assault in the bedroom because she was outside the room and could not hear.  She also said she heard Kissel's father walk towards officers, exclaiming, "My God, I don't believe it,'' four or five times but, because she was so surprised, she forgot to make a note of it.

King said Ng's notes suggest Kissel was arrested more than three hours before the police say the arrest took place and before there was any mention of lawyers or her right to silence. Although Ng testified that Kissel had asked for a lawyer before she handed over the keys to the storeroom, King pointed out this was not recorded in her notebook.  Ng responded, "Actually, I don't write down each and every word.''

King suggested that while Ng guarded Kissel as other police officers searched the storeroom, Kissel had said repeatedly that "he wouldn't stop,'' but since Ng did not write down every detail, it was not recorded.

Police constable Cheung Tseung-sin described Wednesday how the body was packed in the carpet. According to Cheung, Robert Kissel's body was first placed in a Nikko sleeping bag belonging to one of his children, and the roll of carpet was further packed with white towels and a plastic sheet.

The top and bottom of the rolled carpet were covered with plastic bags and sealed with adhesive tape. Cushions were tied to the outside of the carpet with blue nylon rope.

The case continues before Justice Michael Lunn.