The Nancy Kissel Case - Part 37

(Reuters)  HK banker's wife says was raped on night of murder.  August 3, 2005.

The wife of American banker Robert Kissel told a Hong Kong court on Wednesday that she hit him with a metal statue after she was raped on the night she is accused of murdering him.

Speaking on the third day of her testimony, Nancy Kissel told the High Court that her husband hit and raped her on the night of Nov. 2, 2003. They started fighting after he said he had filed for divorce and was taking their three children with him.

Nancy, 41, is accused of feeding her Merrill Lynch banker husband a glass of milkshake laced with anti-depressants and hypnotic drugs before clubbing him to death that night -- charges that she has denied.  Wealthy, successful and popular, they were seen for years as a model couple and Kissel's murder and his wife's arrest shocked Hong Kong's expatriate community.

Trembling uncontrollably, Nancy Kissel said she was caught completely by surprise when her husband told her he was divorcing her.  "He said I've filed for divorce and I'm taking the kids. He said it was a done deal and he'd talked to lawyers. He said I (Nancy) was in no condition to take care of the kids and that I was sick," she told the packed court.  She said he hit her when she started questioning him. He then dragged her into the bedroom and forcibly sodomised her.

Nancy, who told the court this week that she suffered years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her husband, said a struggle then ensued and violent blows were exchanged.  "He grabbed my ankles and pulled me and wouldn't let go ... He said I'm not finished with you yet," she said, her voice trembling and barely audible.  "He kicked me in the stomach and he wouldn't stop ... I was on the floor and I reached for the statue (a heavy metal ornament in the house) and swung it back at him.  I felt I hit something and he let go ... I saw his head was bleeding ... and he said, 'I'm going to kill you'."

She said he then hit her repeatedly with a baseball bat as she swung at him with the metal ornament.  As for what happened afterwards, Nancy told the court she had no recollection. An autopsy found that Robert sustained five fatal blows on the side of his head, but Nancy said she had no recollection of hitting him five times on the head.

Nancy told the court her husband had subjected her to physical and sexual abuse for years. "He was raping was not what I was allowing to happen," she said.  Earlier this week, Nancy told the court that Robert became increasingly abusive as he supported his stressful, round-the-clock job with cocaine and whisky.  Depressed with her marriage, she said she attempted suicide and had an affair with a TV repairman in Vermont in the United States after she fled there with their three children in March 2003 to escape the SARS epidemic in Hong Kong.  The prosecution said earlier that Robert had planned on divorcing her after discovering the affair.

Police found Kissel's body on Nov. 6, 2003, in a storeroom that the couple rented in the luxury residential estate where they lived. Prosecutors said Nancy wrapped Kissel's body in a carpet and then asked four workmen on the estate to take it to the storeroom.  The defence has offered no explanation as to how the body was found in a carpet. The trial is expected to last until late August. If found guilty of murder, Nancy Kissel could face life in prison.

(Associated Press via Pravda)  American housewife killed husband in Hong Kong.  August 3, 2005.

American Nancy Ann Kissel accused of killing her spouse in Hong Kong confirmed she hit the husband during a fight, but couldn't recall whether it was fatal.

The often tearful testimony of Kissel marked one of the high points of the trial that began two months ago, producing a stream of sensational details about the wealthy couple's deeply troubled marriage.

The prosecution has alleged that Kissel, 41, was having an affair when she mixed her husband, Robert, a milkshake spiked with drugs before bludgeoning him to death with an ornament on Nov. 2, 2003. The Merrill Lynch banker's body was found wrapped in a rug in storage space rented by the couple at their luxury apartment complex.

Kissel, who has pleaded innocent, said Wednesday that she couldn't recall fatally beating her husband on the head.

She has described her 40-year-old husband as an abusive workaholic fueled by alcohol and cocaine.

As her lawyer questioned her, she didn't say whether she drugged the milkshake. She only said that her children helped her prepare the drink, which included bananas, cookies and some red food dye that the kids wanted to add.

She said that after her husband had the drink, he told her, "I have filed for divorce and I'm taking the kids."

Kissel said that her husband held a baseball bat as he spoke because he feared she would get violent. She said she picked up a statue, but dropped it after her husband hit her hand. He then dragged her into the bedroom, threw her on the bed and started to have sex with her.

She said she struggled, reached for the statue again and the two kicked and hit each other with the bat and statue.

"I felt that I hit something, and then I let go, and then I turned around and I saw that his head was bleeding," she said, adding that her husband threatened to kill her and hit her again with the bat.

Kissel said she fell to the floor defending herself with the statue, and she couldn't remember what happened next. She said she didn't recall anything of the immediate aftermath of their fight until January.

The prosecution has said that she rolled the body up in a rug and called maintenance workers to haul it away to the storage locker. The workers complained of a strange fishy smell.

The prosecution also argued that the accused researched medication - including the drug Rohypnol, commonly used in date rapes - on the Internet before she allegedly drugged her husband.

But on Wednesday, Kissel, who sometimes shook as she spoke, told the High Court jury that a physician had prescribed Rohypnol to help her sleep. She said she knew little about the drug and searched the Web to find out more.

"I wanted to know what it was," she said.

Kissel said on Tuesday that she had researched other medication because she was considering suicide with sleeping pills as a way to escape her miserable marriage.

She said Wednesday that months before her husband's death, the couple attended marriage counseling but that it didn't work. When she said she wanted a divorce, the husband said, "Who do you think you are? You'll never divorce me," she testified.

She said that during the counseling sessions, she kept in touch with the lover she met at the couple's vacation house in the northeastern U.S. state of Vermont in the summer of 2003.  "He gave comfort to me on a daily basis," she said about the lover - an electrician who made repairs at the summer house.

If convicted, Kissel faces up to life in prison, the AP reports.

(The Standard)  'Counseling enraged him, and brought on sex abuse'  By Albert Wong, August 4, 2005.

The drugs found in the stomach of the decomposing body of former Merrill Lynch banker Robert Kissel were prescribed for his wife, Nancy, who was struggling to sleep for fear of his violent sexual whims, the High Court heard Wednesday.

The court was told that Nancy Kissel had searched for Rohypnol on the Internet October 23, 2003, because she was prescribed it earlier that morning and did not know what it was.

Nancy Kissel, 41, said that she went to see a "Dr Fung,'' a psychiatrist, at the end of August because she was physically and mentally exhausted due to the "inconsistency of not knowing'' when the sexual abuse would occur and having an "on-guard feeling all the time.''  She said she was prescribed Lorivan, Stilnox and Amitryptaline - three of the five sedatives found in her husband's body.

In October, she said she saw Dr Annabel Dythin, a friend, and one of the first people she met in Hong Kong when she needed a doctor for her children.

"I just wanted to talk to her as a woman,'' Kissel said.  She told Dythin "what Rob was doing, physically and sexually. And that, altogether, my life was pretty miserable.''

Glancing over her shoulder to see her notes, the accused saw that the doctor had written "alleged assault,'' Kissel said.  She was prescribed Rohypnol, which the accused looked up on the Internet when she returned home because she did not know what it was.

Kissel is accused of murdering her husband on November 2, 2003. She denies the charge.

The accused spoke of marriage-counseling sessions, after which the banker blamed her for wasting time and money by "not listening,'' and then violently sodomizing her to encourage her to "show more respect.''  He told her how much the sessions were costing and asked what she was contributing to the marriage, before sexually abusing her again.

On the second occasion at counseling, she told the court that she had told him: "I'm done. I want a divorce.'' The banker stormed out of the session, she said, and returned home around two o'clock the next morning, drunk and angry.  "He came in (to the bedroom) and started yelling at me. He said: 'Who do you think you are, asking for a divorce like that? You'll never divorce me. If anyone's doing the divorcing around here, it'll be me.'

"He wanted to make sure I was listening properly. He made the money. He called the shots. Not me. He wanted to make it understood.''  Then, it was the same sexual abuse, "over and over again,'' with her husband saying "how I needed to show respect and that he was in control. He did what he wanted.''

Kissel will continue to give her testimony before Justice Michael Lunn today.

(The Standard)  Kissel tells murder trial of bloody fight.  By Albert Wong.  August 4, 2005.

An enraged Robert Kissel threatened to kill his wife Nancy with a baseball bat before she hit him with a metal ornament and then lost her memory of what happened next, Nancy Kissel testified in the High Court.  

Testifying for the third day Wednesday, Kissel, who is accused of murdering her husband, told the court that the Merrill Lynch banker had repeated several times: ''I'm going to f****** kill you,'' on the night of the alleged murder.  She said her husband wielded a baseball bat and came at her in the master bedroom, while she held up a metal ornament, the alleged murder weapon, in front of her face - and then - a memory blank, the High Court heard.

Kissel, 41, recounted a fight in the couple's Parkview residence on November 2, 2003, the night the prosecution alleges she murdered her husband.

Speaking quietly, the trembling defendant described how an argument about divorce and her spitting in his face unleashed a furious struggle in which the pair exchanged blows, with the banker wielding the baseball bat against his wife holding the heavy metal ornament.  After the accused landed a blow to her husband's head, ''he kept saying: 'I'm going to kill you, you bitch,''' said the accused.  Her last image of the struggle was of herself "sitting on the floor, next to the bed.''

The struggle that Kissel described to the court allegedly took place hours after the prosecution said she served her husband a milkshake laced with sedatives that left him lying unconscious at the foot of the bed as she bludgeoned him to death.

His decomposing body was found in a storeroom at their residential complex on November 7, wrapped in a rug. An autopsy report indicated the body contained huge amounts of sedatives. Kissel has denied the murder charge and is on bail.

She said Wednesday she could not remember what happened on Saturday, November 1, and that her recollection of Sunday, November 2, was "patchy.''

Before the fight, she told the court, she remembered that her neighbor Andrew Tanzer and his daughter had visited in the afternoon. The children wanted ice cream but they decided to make "sundaes.''

All the children present helped, with the girls in charge of peeling the bananas and the son in charge of breaking up the cookies, she said. Since it had been Halloween, they decided on adding red food coloring to make a "Halloweeny'' milkshake.  Her husband came in a couple of times and "rolled his eyes at the chaos that was going on in the kitchen'' she said.

The girls then took glasses of milkshake to their fathers.  "I have a vague recollection of talking to Andrew Tanzer,'' she said, but she did not know whether it was to say hello or goodbye.  Later, Robert Kissel and then his son both drank the remainder of the milkshake from the blender.

While she was still in the kitchen, she heard her husband talking to her.  "He said: 'I'm filing for divorce and I'm taking the kids,''' Kissel told the court. The deceased complained she was not listening to him as he had done many times before and said: "I have filed for divorce and I'm taking the kids. It's a done deal. I've talked to the lawyers.''

The accused said: "He said I wasn't fit to take care of the kids.''

At this point, the accused said Robert Kissel was standing in the hallway at the door to their bedroom, leaning on a baseball bat.  He began throwing the bat from one hand to the other. He said he wanted it "for protection'' because he thought she would get angry.

As she went down the hallway to confront him, she picked up the statue. "I started questioning him ... and said: `What do you mean you've filed, taking the kids, and told people I'm sick?''' she told the court.  She then started waving her finger at him again, which she said he hated. He slapped it away once, twice, but on the third time, he grabbed her hand, according to the accused.  

"He wouldn't let go so I spat in his face. He hit me across the mouth and I fell down and dropped the statue.  He pulled me into the room, threw me onto the bed and started to have sex with me, and I started to struggle with him. He wouldn't let go and I started kicking him and he wouldn't let up. We ended up on the floor ... I started to crawl away.

"He started to grab my ankles and pull me and wouldn't let go. I knew what he was trying to do. He said: `I'm not finished with you yet.'  He wouldn't stop. I just wanted him to stop. He wouldn't let go. I was on the floor and I reached for the statue and I swung it back, I didn't even look. I felt that I hit something, and he let go. I turned around and I looked at him. He was sitting by the closet and I saw that he was bleeding.  I tried to help him up and he wouldn't let me. He pulled himself up on the bed and just sat there and I just, I just kept looking at him.  He sat on the bed and touched his head with his hand and saw that it was bleeding.''

At that point, Kissel said, he said he was going to kill her. "He grabbed the bat and came at me. He hit me on the leg with the bat, on my knee.''

Consequently, much "swinging'' ensued with the bat striking the ornament. The banker allegedly pushed the accused up against the cabinet while "he kept saying: 'I'm going to kill you, you bitch.'''

Kissel said: "He had the bat in his hands, and came down on me as I was holding the statue in front of my face.'' At this point, the defendant paused, still shaking. Then: "I don't remember,'' she said.

"Can you tell us anymore about this fight?'' asked her counsel, Alexander King, SC. She did not reply.

King pointed out she was later captured on closed circuit TV going to the car park of the residential complex at 2am the next day [Monday, November 3]. She said: "I got in my car and I drove down the hill. I don't know where I went. I just remember being in my car.'' The prosecution alleges Kissel bought a rug at a furniture store, Tequila Kola, but she said she remembered nothing of that day.

King noted the prosecution had offered evidence of "cleaning'' in the master bedroom after the alleged murder. "What recollection do you have of doing that?'' he asked.  "I don't remember,'' she said.

"Are you able to tell us when you had the first realization that your husband was dead?'' he asked.  "I started to remember things, just images, kind of pieces of things that didn't really make sense to me and they just kind of came back in little pieces,'' she said.  Those fragments of memory came back, "maybe six months or so later in Siu Lam (psychiatric center). The first month I was there I don't really remember much.  I started to remember things, of where I was, in January, because I remember the holiday, which is when I was able to be let out of where I was and I don't have a clear memory of the beginning when I was there.''

On November 3, "at the time, did you know he was dead?'' asked King. "No, I don't remember,'' she said.

Kissel continues her testimony today before Justice Michael Lunn and a jury.

(SCMP; no link)  Kissel remembers husband hitting her, but then it's all a blank.  By Polly Hui.  August 4, 2005.

The last thing Nancy Kissel remembers about the day she allegedly bludgeoned her husband to death is him bloodied and bearing down on her with a baseball bat as she held a statue to her face, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.

Minutes earlier, Robert Peter Kissel had told her he had filed for divorce, Kissel told the court.

The 41-year-old, trembling and weeping most of the time on her third day on the witness stand, said she could recall nothing more about events in and around the family's flat in Parkview, Tai Tam, on November 2, 2003, nor what happened afterwards - including a trip to Aberdeen to buy a rug from furniture store Tequila Kola and a series of activities the prosecution says she embarked on to cover up her husband's killing. Kissel has pleaded not guilty to murder.

She remembered making a milkshake with her children and a neighbour's daughter which the children then served to her husband, a top Merrill Lynch banker, and their neighbour Andrew Tanzer. The next recollection she had was of cleaning the kitchen while her husband was yelling at her.

Kissel, who is accused of drugging the deceased with a sedatives-laced milkshake before smashing in his skull with a heavy metal statue, said her husband had asked if she was listening, then told her: "I've filed for divorce. I am taking the kids."

I said: "What do you mean, that you are filing for divorce?"  She said he replied: "No, that's not what I said ... If you had listened, you would have heard what I said ... I have filed for divorce and I am taking the kids. That is a done deal."

He also said he had told his lawyers she was sick and unfit to take care of their children.  She recalled looking at her husband when he was standing at the doorway of the master bedroom with a baseball bat, which he told her was "for protection" in case she got "mad".

Demonstrating to the jurors with her hands, Kissel said the deceased started tapping the bat in his hand.

She paced back and forth in the hallway and "kept thinking about the bat", before picking up a metal statue from the dining room and walking back into the bedroom.  She said her husband smacked her face and grabbed her arm after she waved her finger in his face. She fell, dropping the statue.

"He pulled me into the room, pulled me onto the bed ... and started to have sex with me," she said. "I started kicking him. We ended up on the floor."

Kissel said she reached for the statue on the floor and swung her arm back. "I didn't even look and I thought I hit something," she said.  She turned around and saw her husband sitting near the closet, bleeding. "I tried to help him up and he wouldn't let me ... he pulled himself up ... touched his head and he saw it's bleeding."

Beginning to tremble, she said he told her: "I am going to ****ing kill you." He kept hitting her knees with the bat and she swung back with the statue. "He kept saying: `I am going to kill you, you bitch'.  I ended up on the floor and he moved on top with the bat ... in his hand ... He came down on me as I was holding the statue in front of my face," she said in a weak voice.

Unable to carry on, Kissel sat, trembling and wordless, for almost a minute, the stares of all in the court fixed on her face.

Finally, she said: "I can't remember."

"Can you tell me any more about this fight?" her counsel, Alexander King SC, asked.

Kissel sat shaking for another half-minute, unable to give a reply.

"When was the last recollection of [what happened] between your husband and yourself in the bedroom on that day?" The defendant, trembling and shaking her head, replied: "I remember just being on the floor next to the bed."

"You know your husband had five injuries on his head, each of which could be fatal. Any recollection of that?" asked the counsel. "No," she replied.

"The master bedroom had been cleaned up in a number of ways. What recollections do you have of doing that?" asked Mr King. "I don't remember," she said.

She also said she did not remember where her husband's body was on November 2, or if she had taken any of the sleeping pills or anti-depressants she had been prescribed.

The defendant was asked to identify a number of images taken from CCTV footage, which showed her numerous times in the lift and car park at Parkview starting from the early morning of Monday November 3, 2003. The photos also depicted her dragging a suitcase, and carrying a rug on her shoulder.

"I don't remember Monday," she said.

She said she recalled driving her car downhill at about 2am on Monday but had no idea where she went. She also remembered working that morning but could not recall sending the e-mails she had sent.

"When did you have your first realisation that your husband was dead?" asked Mr King.

The defendant said "bits and pieces" only started coming back to her six months after she was admitted to Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre.

"I started to remember things, images, and just pieces of things that didn't really make sense to me."

The case continues today before Mr Justice Michael Lunn. 

(SCMP; no link)  Son had shake Kissel allegedly drugged.  By Polly Hui.  August 4, 2005.

Nancy Kissel's son drank some of the milkshake that prosecutors say she laced with sedatives and gave to her husband before bludgeoning him to death, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.

Kissel also told the jury that the boy, four-year-old Reis, sister June, six, and neighbour Andrew Tanzer's daughter Leah, six, had helped her prepare the drink in the kitchen of their Parkview flat on the afternoon of November 2, 2003, the day prosecutors say Kissel's husband, senior Merrill Lynch banker Robert Peter Kissel, was murdered.

Kissel, 41, has pleaded not guilty to his murder.

"June and Leah wanted to have some ice cream. We all went to the kitchen ...We started taking out ... six to seven containers from the freezer. But there was just a little bit left in each, not enough to give them all an equal portion. So we dumped them all in the blender to make milkshake," Kissel testified.

Earlier, Mr Tanzer, a prosecution witness, testified that he had met the Kissel family for the first time that morning when attending a United Jewish Congregation service and that later he had taken his daughter to play with June in the Kissels' flat.

Mr Tanzer, who was served the milkshake - which he said Kissel told him had been made to her "secret recipe" - passed out when he returned home half an hour after drinking it, the court has heard.

Kissel said yesterday she and the two girls chopped bananas and Reis, who also wanted to help, smashed cookies. She said June had some black or red food colouring left over from a Halloween party and wanted to put it into the shake to make it look more "scary" and "Halloweeny".

The accused recalled her husband coming into the kitchen a couple of times when they were preparing the milkshake , once to get a glass of water. The second time, he "rolled his eyes at the chaos going on in the kitchen". She said the girls wanted their fathers to have some milkshake as well. "The girls took out the milkshakes for their father. The kids then took theirs," she said.

Kissel, who at times was speaking almost in a whisper and who wept for much of her third day on the witness stand, was asked repeatedly by Mr Justice Michael Lunn and by her own counsel, Alexander King SC, to raise her voice. It was unclear from her testimony whether the girls drank any of the shake.

Kissel said she remembered her husband and her son returning to the kitchen later.

The deceased picked up the blender and drank the remaining milkshake and Reis, who took the blender from his father, also drank some, she said.

Prosecutor Peter Chapman alleges that the accused drugged the milkshake with a "cocktail of sedatives" before dealing a series of fatal blows to her husband's head with a metal statue. The court has heard from forensic experts that four hypnotics, including Rohypnol, and an anti-depressant were found in the deceased's stomach and liver.

Mr King did not ask Kissel whether she had drugged the milkshake.

The case continues today. 

(Bloomberg)  Kissel Tells Court She Accepts She Killed Husband.  By Clare Cheung.  August 4, 2005.

Nancy Kissel, on trial for the murder of her Merrill Lynch & Co. investment banker husband, today told Hong Kong's High Court that she accepted that she killed him.

Kissel, 41, who made the comments under cross-examination by prosecutor Peter Chapman, said Robert Kissel had threatened to kill her. She said she threw metal ornaments at her husband when he came at her, swinging a baseball bat and threatening to kill her. Kissel shook when police officers unwrapped a baseball bat and brass metal pieces to show the court as exhibits.

"I just wanted him to stop swinging the bat at me,'' she said, when asked by defense lawyer Alexander King what crossed her mind as threw the ornaments at her husband.

The prosecution has alleged Nancy Kissel drugged her millionaire husband on Nov. 2, 2003, by lacing his milkshake with sedatives and -- when he was under the influence of the drugs -- struck him with a heavy metal object. Kissel is pleading not guilty to one count of murder.

Robert Kissel, whose body was found wrapped in a carpet on Nov. 6, 2003, in a storeroom near the couple's Tai Tam apartment, died of head injuries, a police statement said at the time. At the hearing today, Nancy Kissel said she accepted that she inflicted the wounds on her husband's head. She said she didn't have a criminal record or a history of violence.

Today, Kissel said she had no memory of disposing of the body. When questioned by King, she said she couldn't explain why her fingerprints were found on the packing tapes of boxes containing bloodied items. She said she couldn't recall cleaning the master bedroom or calling the building management employees to arrange storage after the Nov. 2 fight.

The prosecutor asked Kissel whether she had memory problems, after she had repeatedly answered questions by saying she couldn't remember. Kissel said she is on anti-depressants.

When cross-examined by Chapman, Kissel said her husband's sexual demands on her changed after they came to Hong Kong in 1998, and that he forced her to have "oral and anal sex,'' sometimes under the influence of both cocaine and alcohol.

"He used force because that's the way he chose to have that kind of sex,'' Kissel said. "He knew I didn't really like it. It's humiliating to talk about it.''

Kissel earlier told the court her husband had hit her when she was pregnant.

Chapman asked if she got tested for AIDS after they came to Hong Kong, given they began to practice anal sex then and he was using cocaine and traveling more often. Kissel said she didn't. Kissel said earlier that her bridesmaid Allie Gertz had died of AIDS after contracting the disease through sex.

Kissel faces a jury of five men and two women. Jane Clayton, Robert Kissel's sister and a witness at the trial, was in the back row of the public gallery and cried as Kissel gave her testimony. The trial is adjourned until 10 a.m. Hong Kong time on Aug. 8.

Merrill Lynch hired Kissel from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in 2000 to head its distressed assets business in Asia outside Japan. He was a vice president in Goldman's Asian special situations group, helping the firm become one of the biggest investors in bad debts in the region.

The case is HKSAR v. Nancy Ann Kissel, indictment no. HCCC113/2004 in the Court of First Instance of the High Court. The hearing, which is in its 47th day, continues on Aug. 8. 

From the Chinese-language media: