The Nancy Kissel Case - Part 42

(Associated Press via WCCO)  Woman Admits To Storing Body In Expensive Carpet.  August 11, 2005.

A U.S. housewife on trial for the murder of her wealthy banker husband in Hong Kong acknowledged Thursday that she arranged for a storeroom to store her husband's corpse -- wrapped up in an expensive carpet.

Nancy Kissel, 41, who was born in Minneapolis and attended the University of Minnesota, is accused of giving her husband Robert a milkshake laced with sedatives before she bludgeoned him to death with a metal statue in their luxury apartment complex in Hong Kong on Nov. 2, 2003.

She has admitted killing her 40-year-old husband, a New York native, but denies drugging him and has pleaded innocent to murder. Prosecutor Peter Chapman has accused Kissel of fabricating events, saying she was able to hit her husband because he was drugged and unable to defend himself.

Robert Kissel's body was found bundled in an expensive rug in a storage room near the couple's Hong Kong apartment. Chapman pressed Kissel about the carpet containing her husband's body on Thursday during cross-examination.

Kissel answered "yes" when asked whether she packed bloodstained clothing into boxes, arranged in a storeroom to be emptied and sent her maids out on separate shopping trips after the alleged murder.

"Eventually, the rug containing Robert Kissel's body ... (was) removed from the apartment and placed in the storeroom?" Chapman asked the defendant in court.

"Yes," replied Kissel.

Maintenance workers at the apartment were asked by Kissel to help her haul the carpet to the storage room, according to previous testimony.

Chapman said Kissel went on a shopping spree to cover up the killing. He showed pictures of her returning to her apartment from several outings with a suitcase and a carpet the day following her husband's death.

Kissel testified Wednesday that she grabbed the statue and swung it over her head at her husband who was trying to have anal sex with her. Kissel had said earlier her spouse, an investment banker at Merrill Lynch, regularly physically and sexually abused her, leading her to consider suicide.  She said his forehead was bleeding from the blow and that when she tried to help him, he picked up a baseball bat and threatened to kill her. She fended off his attacks with the statue, she said.

But Chapman said Thursday police never found the baseball bat in the Kissels' apartment and the item was produced later as evidence only by the defense. He said Robert Kissel was unconscious by the time his wife attacked him because she had drugged him.

Chapman also alleged that Kissel retreated to her bedroom during a police visit to the apartment and tried to hide bloodied clothes from the killing by stuffing them into her children's closet. Kissel admitted going into her bedroom when police arrived, but said she could not recall moving any clothing.

The prosecution earlier portrayed Kissel as an unfaithful wife who secretly met with a lover while her spouse underwent back surgery.  She admitted Thursday that she had long telephone chats with her lover Michael Del Priore, an electrician in the U.S. state Vermont, following the alleged murder.

Chapman also disputed Kissel's saying that her husband abused alcohol and cocaine. He cited testimony from a close friend of the Kissels, Bryna O' Shea, as saying that Robert Kissel was neither an alcoholic or drug user.

If convicted, Kissel, faces up to life in prison.

(Times Online via The Australian)  Expat murder has HK hooked.  By Jane MacCartney.  August 12, 2005.

Daily courtroom revelations of sex, adultery, a drugged milkshake and high finance in the trial of a US woman accused of murdering her banker husband are keeping Hong Kong's expatriate community riveted.  Nancy Kissel, 41, wept in the dock this week as she said she had hit her husband with a metal statue only after he threatened to kill her.

"He was going to kill me," she yelled to the court. A day earlier she had said she loved her husband, the father of her three children, despite his abuse and demands for anal sex.

Ms Kissel, a member of Hong Kong's wealthy Jewish community, is accused of giving her husband Robert, an investment banker with Merrill Lynch, a strawberry milkshake spiked with sedatives before beating him to death in their luxury residential complex on November 2, 2003.

She admits she killed her 40-year-old husband, originally from New York, but denies drugging him and has pleaded not guilty to murder, saying she struck him in self-defence.  Mr Kissel's body was found four days after his death, bundled in an expensive carpet in a storage room near the apartment complex.

Ms Kissel testified on Wednesday that she had tried to help her husband when his forehead was bleeding from her first defensive blow, but said he had then picked up a baseball bat and threatened to kill her. She fended off his attacks with the statue, she told the court.

Prosecutor Peter Chapman accused Ms Kissel of fabricating her account of events, saying she had been able to strike five accurate blows to Mr Kissel's head because he was drugged.  "You rendered him defenceless because you drugged him," Mr Chapman said.

"No, no. That's not what happened," Ms Kissel replied. "We had a fight and he used that bat. He was telling me he was going to kill me with that bat. He kept repeating it, and I defended myself from him."

Ms Kissel told the court her husband had regularly physically and sexually abused her, leading her to consider suicide.  She said she was so depressed she had an affair with a television repairman during a stay in the US, where she had gone with her children to escape the SARS epidemic in 2003.

The prosecution maintains that on the night he was killed, Mr Kissel had planned to tell his wife he wanted a divorce.  Prosecutors repeatedly asked Ms Kissel why she had never told anyone of the abuses she claimed to have suffered.  She said the expatriate life in Hong Kong did not permit her to do so and she had done everything to hide her unhappiness. "It was something I was very ashamed of and am still ashamed of," she said.

The couple married in the US in 1989 and arrived in Hong Kong in 1997 with their children. Ms Kissel worked as a volunteer at the Hong Kong International School, where the children studied, and the family lived in the expensive Parkview residential complex on a hill overlooking the city and its harbour.

The trial is expected to last until late this month.

(The Standard)  Calls to lover as Kissel covered up.  By Albert Wong.  August 12, 2005.

Prosecution asks: did you tell Del Priore you had solved the problem with your husband? After eight days in the witness box, accused murderer Nancy Kissel Thursday completed her testimony in the trial over the alleged murder of her husband, former Merrill Lynch banker, Robert Kissel.

Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Peter Chapman completed his cross-examination by asking why Michael Del Priore, the electrical repairman with whom she had an affair in Vermont, continued frequent telephone communication with her during the days she is alleged to have been busy covering her tracks, but ceased all communication after her arrest.

Kissel replied that she continued to confide in Del Priore about a range of issues until her arrest, but that after her arrest she had lost contact with him and many other people as well.

The prosecution had suggested Tuesday that Del Priore, who lived in a trailer park, may have considered the accused to be a "goldmine.''

Kissel is accused of serving her husband a pink milkshake laced with sedatives which left him unconscious as she bludgeoned him to death with a heavy metal ornament on November 2, 2003. She denies the charge and is out on bail.

She has testified that there was a furious fight that night, in which she feared for her life as her husband bore down on her swinging a baseball bat, saying: "I'm going to kill you, you bitch.''

She has accepted that she killed her husband, but said she could not recall how she came to inflict five fatal wounds to the side of his head.

Thursday, the accused said the force of the bat striking the ornament as she was protecting herself caused the curvature on the metal base, which was originally flat.

But Chapman said that, since a considerable force would have been required to cause such a curvature, the force of the strike should have "caused the ornament to fly out of your hands, Mrs Kissel, leaving you totally defenseless.''

Kissel disagreed, saying she was holding on to the ornament with both hands "with some strength to protect myself.''

Between November 3 and 6, the prosecution alleges, Kissel conducted a cover-up, shopping for new bed sheets to replace the blood-stained linen and ordering carton boxes to pack away incriminating items.

Closed-circuit television cameras captured her going in and out of the couple's apartment in the Parkview residential complex with a rug, a suitcase and bags of shopping.

At 7:41am on November 3, the accused telephoned Del Priore in the United States and spoke for 24 minutes.

"By this time, you're unlikely to need a sympathetic ear about an abusive husband,'' said Chapman.

Kissel said she spoke about a lot of issues during their conversations. Chapman asked: "During this phone call, did you tell Del Priore you had solved the problem with your husband?'' She said she could not recall the telephone call.

On November 4, the day she told a doctor she was assaulted by her husband and was examined for injuries, she telephoned Del Priore six times.

In the days between the alleged murder and her arrest, Kissel packed boxes full of bloodstained items, made arrangements for a storeroom to be cleaned out and sent her domestic helpers to buy various items, including nylon rope, Chapman said.

"Eventually, the rug containing Robert Kissel's body and various items is removed from the apartment into the storeroom. While all this is going on, you're continuing to speak to Michael Del Priore,'' Chapman said.

"Yes'' she replied, according to her telephone bills.

"Since your arrest, Mrs Kissel, has Michael Del Priore come to see you?'' asked Chapman.

Kissel replied: "No, he hasn't contacted me.''

The prosecution suggested Wednesday that Kissel's selective memory loss was a lie, since there was no mention of such a disorder in her bail applications in November, 2004, but it found its way into a report in 2005, as well as her current testimony.

In re-examination Thursday, defense counsel Alexander King SC emphasized that the bail application was heard in the context of "mental stability'' and did not specifically touch on the issue of memory loss.

Kissel said that, since that bail hearing, she had been seen by another psychiatrist, who attended her for 60 to 70 hours and diagnosed her with "dissociative amnesia.''

Defense witness Dr Desmond Fung, who is also testifying as an expert in psychiatry, said that when he attended the accused on August 29 and October 30 there was no evidence to suggest she was making up a story.  He said Kissel had described to him occasions where arguments "sometimes erupted into physical violence.''

According to his notes of the visit, Kissel described her husband as an extremely powerful man, someone who had "brought Merrill Lynch to Asia,'' and also a "five-minute father'' since he spent so much time away from his family.  Under cross-examination, Chapman pointed out that Fung was "totally reliant'' on what the accused told him.

The trial continues today before justice Michael Lunn.

(SCMP; no link)  Kissel rang lover after killing, court hears.  By Polly Hui.  August 12, 2005.

Nancy Kissel called her Vermont lover in the early morning after she allegedly murdered her husband and spoke to him many times over the next few days when she embarked on a series of activities to cover up the killing, the Court of First Instance heard yesterday.

Prosecutor Peter Chapman said bills for Kissel's "secret mobile phone" showed she had spoken for 24 minutes to Michael Del Priore, a TV repairman living in a trailer park in Vermont, at 7.41am on November 3, 2003. "By that time, you are unlikely to need a sympathetic ear about an abusive husband?" he asked Kissel.

She said she had often spoken to Mr Del Priore about different things, not only about her marriage. "During this call, did you tell Michael you had solved your problem?" Mr Chapman asked. "I don't remember," said Kissel, who had earlier told the court she had lost her memory of many events surrounding November 2.

Kissel, 41, is accused of bludgeoning Robert Peter Kissel, a senior Merrill Lynch banker, to death after serving him a drugged milkshake in their Parkview flat on November 2, 2003. But she says her husband was beating her with a baseball bat and she protected herself with a metal ornament.

Evidence given earlier indicated Kissel and her lover spoke almost daily in September and October, sometimes many times a day, with calls lasting for hours.

The bills show that at about 9.30am on November 3, Kissel was speaking to Mr Del Priore for 23 minutes, at a time when CCTV stills at Parkview indicated she was out shopping. Kissel said she could not recall the conversation but she spoke to him a lot when shopping. Mr Chapman said there was a third phone call at 6.20pm.

On November 4, Kissel spoke to Mr Del Priore once before and five times after her visit to doctor Annabelle Dytham between 9am and 10am, when she told the doctor of her husband's sexual and physical assaults in their bedroom two days earlier. The doctor's report said she was "tearful", "slow to move" and had "total body pain".

Mr Chapman said the accused went on "three separate shopping expeditions" on November 4, with CCTV stills showing her carrying back shopping bags, a rug and a suitcase. But Kissel said she had never stopped any activities because of her husband's assaults. "Your body has become on auto-pilot... I do it ... for my children," she said, adding that she sometimes had to buy new sheets to replace those bloodstained from anal sex her husband forced on her.

Mr Chapman said the long-distance calls continued until November 6, the day before Kissel's arrest. Throughout that period, he said she had made arrangements for a storeroom - where the deceased's body was found wrapped in an old carpet - to be cleaned and sent her two maids on shopping trips.

"While all of this is going on, you were continuing to speak to Michael Del Priore?" he said.

Kissel, shown the bills, said: "It appears to be ... three months' continuation of phone calls. Yes." She said later that she had not contacted him after November 2003.

Mr Chapman: "After the five years of horror you had endured in the hands of Robert Kissel, what was left in your relationship apart from money?"

Kissel: "It's the graduation of things that's developed ... turning into something that was horrible. It's a lot of acceptance I've chosen to do."

However, Desmond Fung, a psychiatrist who saw Kissel on August 29 and October 30, said when testifying after the defendant yesterday that her account of severe distress sounded plausible.

"How did she present herself?" asked Alexander King SC, for the defence.

"She's describing everything in ... sequence. I did not detect evidence that she's making up a story," the psychiatrist said.

On her first visit, Kissel told him about her relationship and their fights. She said she could only sleep three to four hours a day. Dr Fung prescribed her 10 tablets of Stilnox or Ambien to help her sleep.

On her second visit, she told Dr Fung the pills were not effective and her marriage had deteriorated. He said he prescribed three types of sleeping pills and anti-depressants - Stilnox, Lorivan and amitriptyline, a combination to treat tenacious sleeping problems.

At times in tears, Kissel told Dr Fung her husband was "extremely powerful", "someone who had brought Merrill Lynch to Asia". But he was a "five-minute father" who was never around.

In cross-examination, Mr Chapman suggested Kissel and her husband had never had the August 27 joint session with a psychologist she told Dr Fung about during her first visit. "Would that surprise you?" he asked. Dr Fung agreed and said he was not aware of that.

The case continues today.