The Nancy Kissel Case - Part 26

(The Standard)  Bruises may be 'defensive'.  By Albert Wong.  July 20, 2005.

Bruises found on the elbows, arms and hands of accused murderer Nancy Kissel when she was examined in hospital on the day of her arrest were signs of ''classic'' defensive injuries inflicted when a person tries to fend off a blunt, hard instrument, the High Court heard Tuesday.

Under cross-examination by the defense, Dr Li Wei-sum was asked whether she agreed with the statement, read out from a medical textbook, that bruises found in those areas were consistent with the scenario where "someone was putting up their hands to protect oneself from an attack,'' hence the bruises on the back of the hand.

"It can be,'' she replied.

Kissel, 41, is accused of serving her husband, Robert, a milkshake laced with sedatives and beating him to death with a heavy metal ornament as he lay unconscious in their Parkview apartment on November 2, 2003.  Kissel told a doctor and the police at the time that her banker husband had been drunk and assaulted her after she refused him sex, and that he then disappeared.  She denies the charge and is out on bail.  Her husband's decomposing body was found wrapped in a carpet in a storeroom in the Parkview residential complex in Tai Tam on November 7, 2003.

Li testified Monday that she had treated Kissel on November 7 when she was escorted to Ruttonjee hospital by police.  She said she found abrasions on Kissel's lip, chest, knees and feet. There were also bruises on her upper and lower forearms, shoulders and back of her hands. The color of the bruises suggested they were caused one or two days earlier.

Li also said elevated levels of the enzyme creatine kinase (CK) in blood taken from Nancy Kissel could be a sign of damage to the muscles surrounding the arms, legs and ribs due to either physical injury, strenuous exercise, a heart attack or some other medical conditions.

"Someone can come off a rugby field or out of a boxing ring with damage to [those] muscles?'' senior defence counsel Alexander King asked.  

"Yes,'' she replied.  "Someone can come out of a fight with damage to [those] muscles and these matters can cause a rise to your CK levels,'' King said. Li agreed to the assertion.

"Given that the accused did not have a heart attack, does not suffer from any relevant medical conditions and had bruises in areas described by medical textbooks as being `classic positions' for defensive injuries, a possible cause of the elevated CK reading is a result of Mrs Kissel receiving blunt force injuries - is it not?'' King asked the doctor.

Li replied, "It can reflect Nancy Kissel had muscle injuries, but I cannot be sure she received blunt force injuries.''  On re-examination by prosecutor Peter Chapman, Li agreed she had "conceded'' to King that she thought the bruises could have been made two to three days before examination, rather than one to two.

Since she examined the accused on November 7 - a Friday - "if you go back three days, that would take us back to Tuesday morning,'' Chapman told Li.  She had agreed with King that using the color to determine the age of the bruising was only a general guideline and that it was better to say whether it was "recent or old.''  Li said the muscle injuries could also have been caused by "heavy exercises using the shoulder muscles, lifting of a heavy weight or early starters to gym exercises.''  Chapman said at the opening of the trial that the injuries were due to "the considerable effort in wrapping the body with the carpet - and placing the body in the rug.''

Also Tuesday, Anthony Hung, the head of the debt market for the Asia Pacific region at Merrill Lynch - who was once Robert Kissel's former superior at the investment bank - described the him as "a very good colleague.''  "I found him a very straightforward person, easy to work with and a very good businessman,'' he said.  Regarding Robert Kissel's drinking habits, Hung said he was "just like many of the colleagues that I have,'' in that he drank wine on appropriate occasions, such as with dinner.

When police searched Robert Kissel's office on November 14, Hung and the firm's chief administrative officer, John Thurlow, were present, he said.  "I was the one making the decision about whether the e-mail was business or personal,'' Hung said. He said he then downloaded unopened personal e-mails onto a disk for the police.

But it was Thurlow who originally started up the computer, because he knew Robert Kissel's password, Hung said.  Police officer Chau Man-yee, who received the disk from Hung that day, testified Tuesday that the "password was entered by a person surnamed Hung.''

The case continues today before justice Michael Lunn.

(SCMP; no link)  Witness dates bruises to after Kissel's death.  By Polly Hui.  July 20, 2005.

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.

The case continues today. 

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