The Nancy Kissel Case - Part 49

(The Standard)  Trial refocuses on porn searches.  By Albert Wong.  August 23, 2005.

The gripping drama of the milkshake murder trial drew closer to an end Monday when Nancy Kissel's defense team closed its case after a computer expert discussed the nature of Web sites viewed on the Kissel family computer and the victim's laptop.

High Court judge Michael Lunn has agreed to a request by the prosecution to introduce "rebuttal evidence'' today, allowing forensic experts to testify on issues relating to a baseball bat introduced into evidence by the defense.

Kissel, who is accused of murdering her banker husband, Robert Kissel, has testified that there was a furious fight on the night of November 2, 2003 and that she feared for her life as her husband bore down on her swinging a baseball bat.  Prosecutors say she drugged her husband with a milkshake laced with sedatives before clubbing him to death. She has accepted that she killed her husband, but cannot recall how she came to inflict five fatal wounds to the side of his head.  She denies the charge of murder and is out on bail.

Following final evidence, the trial will adjourn for a day to allow both sides to prepare closing speeches, which will be submitted to the court at the end of the week. The judge will give his directions to the jury after the final arguments.

Nancy Kissel, 41, has portrayed her late husband as a vicious sexually abusive predator who subjected her to a nightly routine of violence and forced sodomy since relocating to Hong Kong in 1998. She did not tell friends or family about the abuse, she claims, because the issue was humiliating.

Earlier in the trial, the court heard that the family's desktop computer had been used to search for "anal sex in Taiwan'' on April 4 and 5, 2003 - a time when Robert Kissel was the only member of the family in Hong Kong and just as he was about to embark on a business trip to Taiwan.

The defense team had "re-built'' some of the Web sites that had left traces in the family computer and the victim's IBM laptop.  Combining her alleged suffering of sexual abuse, and the nature of the Web sites, the accused testified that she now believes her husband "had a fascination'' for anal sex.

The computer expert who compiled that evidence, Benedict Pasco, was cross-examined Monday by chief prosecutor Peter Chapman.  The prosecutor noted that in the expert's report there seemed to be only two days out of two years of available data that was considered by Pasco to be "relevant material.''

He also said the Web sites that were recreated from the victim's IBM laptop were all Google search results pages.

"Not one of them is a porn Web site,'' Chapman said.  Pasco agreed.

In relation to the porn Web sites found on the family desktop, Chapman suggested that according to the computer's Internet history, the user may only have had "a cursory view.''  Pasco said that was incorrect, since the Internet history "is not the definitive history of the whole computer.''

In re-examination, defense counsel Alexander King SC invited Pasco to elaborate that the "EnCase Forensic edition'' software used by him, searches the whole of the computer's hard drive, in contrast to the search done by the police computer expert which searched only Internet history folders.

Pasco also said there are only 15 pages of information for the deceased's laptop, compared with 226 pages on the family desktop, possibly because the Internet history files had been deleted on the laptop.

"The fact there are no sex sites in the 15 pages, does not mean that the user of the computer had not visited sex sites in the past does it?'' King asked.  Pasco agreed.

In the two days where "relevant material'' was found, King emphasized that the user had used the family desktop to search and view homosexual porn sites for an hour and a half each time.  King concluded that traces for the search term, "anal sex in Taiwan'' were found in both the family desktop and the deceased's IBM laptop.

"In addition to the words that were typed in and as a result of those words, Internet sites were visited,'' said King.  "For sure,'' Pasco replied.

The trial continues today before Justice Michael Lunn.

(SCMP)  Kissel defence rests, final witness not called.  By Polly Hui.  August 23, 2005.

The defence counsel for Nancy Kissel closed his case unexpectedly yesterday after he finished his re-examination of a computer forensics expert in the Court of First Instance.

Alexander King SC said there would be no more defence witnesses after Benedict Pasco testified on his findings of alleged internet searches for pornography and homosexual websites by Kissel's husband, Robert Peter Kissel.  Mr King had never indicated in court the number of witnesses he would be calling.

Mr Justice Michael Lunn told the jury they would hear the final chapter of evidence today, when the prosecution gave rebuttal evidence on the roles of the baseball bat and the metal ornament seized from the Kissels' Parkview flat.

Kissel told the court earlier that her husband used the bat to beat her in their bedroom on November 2, 2003, the day she allegedly murdered him. She said she used a metal ornament to defend herself and recalled that one of the two figurines on the ornament flew off when the deceased struck the metal base with the bat.  But the prosecution says Kissel dealt five fatal blows to the head of the senior Merrill Lynch banker after drugging him with a sedative-laced milkshake. Kissel has admitted killing her husband but has pleaded not guilty to murder.

Prosecutor Peter Chapman and Mr King are expected to begin their final submissions towards the end of this week.

Mr Justice Lunn asked the jury to remove from their trial papers a report by Olaf Drummer, the defence's forensic expert from Australia, after Mr King indicated the expert would not be called to testify. The report contradicts some of the findings of the prosecution's forensic expert on the drug contents of Robert Kissel's stomach and liver.  The judge also told the seven jurors he would seek to double their allowance because of the length of the trial.

In cross-examination of Mr Pasco, computer forensic expert of PGI Consultants, Mr Chapman pointed out that the witness' findings showed "porn-dialler" software had been installed in a desktop computer in Kissel's flat on September 14, 2002, and April 23, 2003. The software allowed the user to dial up pornographic websites at high charging rates.

Mr Chapman showed Mr Pasco travel records that showed the deceased was out of Hong Kong during the two installation periods.  "Whoever is responsible for installing the software ... cannot be Robert Kissel," he suggested.  The witness agreed.

Mr Chapman said Mr Pasco's investigations covered internet use between January 2002 and November 2003. He asked him how many days in that period of almost two years he could find material relevant to porn site searches. Mr Pasco said about three hours over two days. He also agreed that he had no idea whether the user was the deceased or a house guest.

In re-examination of Mr Pasco, Mr King said there were a large number of similarities between the subjects searched on the desktop computer and those searched for on the deceased's laptop. Both computers had been used to search for "anal sex" and "anal sex in Taiwan". The witness agreed. Mr King pointed out that travel records showed the deceased went to Taiwan for a three-day trip on April 8, 2003. He suggested the user of the desktop computer appeared to be searching on April 4 and 5 for sex services in Taiwan.

Mr King also read out a large number of Google keywood searches for porn sites on the laptop. The witness agreed that some of those websites were viewed. 

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