The Nancy Kissel Case - Part 25

(The Standard)  Expert testifies hard object deformed metal ornament.  By Albert Wong.  July 19, 2005.

The heavy metal ornament produced in court as the weapon with which banker Robert Kissel was allegedly bludgeoned to death could have become deformed if hit by a hard object like a baseball bat, a weapons expert told the High Court Monday.

Dr Wong Koon-hung testified last Thursday that the force exerted on the head of the figurines and the metal base had caused the legs to detach.  Wong told the court Monday he could not tell from which direction the "principal force'' could have come.

Kissel's wife, Nancy, 41, stands accused of serving her husband a pink milkshake laced with sedatives, which left him unconscious at the foot of their bed as she beat him to death with a heavy metal ornament on November 2, 2003.  The accused told a doctor and the police at the time that her husband was drunk and had 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 up in a carpet, was discovered in a storeroom in the Parkview residential complex in the early hours of November 7. The suspected murder weapon was delivered to Wong on November 8 for examination.

Wong told the court Monday he had always assumed that the metal base plate was flat and did not specifically examine the ornament for signs of impact with another hard object.

Defense counsel Alexander King drew the witness' attention to shiny and silvery surfaces on the heads and on the base of the ornament.  contact with another hard area could have caused these marks and that, over a period of time, it would oxidize and become duller.ament itself, Wong said he could also see "indentations and shiny metal surfaces'' on the edge of the base.  He said the indentations could have been caused by the impact of another hard object.

With reference to older family pictures with the ornament in the background, Wong said the metal base appeared to be flat in those photos. He agreed that by the time he examined the ornament, it was bent.  He said it was possible that it could have become bent if someone had struck the base with a hard elongated object, such as a baseball bat.

When questioned by prosecutor Ada Chan, Wong said he could see some "red pigment'' markings on the indentations. Chan asked if an impact with skull bone could also have caused such indentations on the edge of the metal base. "I cannot comment on that, because I don't know how hard is the skull bone,'' Wong replied.

If the impact from the hard cylindrical object was so forceful as to cause a curve in the base and the detachment of the figurines, "would you expect to see more obvious marks of the impact?'' she asked.

Wong replied that he could not say. He told the court that there were so many different types of wood with different hardness, but there "has to be something substantially hard to leave this kind of impression on the metal base.''

The case continues today before Justice Michael Lunn.

(SCMP; no link)  Doubt over alleged Kissel murder weapon.  By Polly Hui.  July 19, 2005.

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.

The case continues today before Mr Justice Michael Lunn.