The Nancy Kissel Case - Part 53
The prosecution's case against Nancy Kissel is "like something out of a movie script'' and "simply defies common sense'' the High Court heard on Monday.
Defence counsel Alexander King, SC, submitted his final submission to a jury comprising five men and two women on Monday, before a packed court as the murder trial that has rivetted the Hong Kong local and overseas media all summer draws to a climactic end.
For the first time in the trial, King, who did not submit an opening speech, held the attention of the jury for the whole day, as he elaborated why Nancy Kissel, 41, is pleading not guilty to murdering her husband Robert Kissel because of lawful self-defense.
King however, failed to maintain the attention of the father of the deceased, William Kissel, who left the courtroom after only a few minutes of the final speech.
In his final arguments, King invited the jury use their common sense and see that the prosecution case paints a dramatic "colliding of universes.''
"The prosecution would have you believe,'' said King, that on the one hand, the "cheating, ungrateful, plotting, scheming wife'' has laid down a murderous plan "there and ready to go'' while simultaneously, the husband, has been planning to reveal to her on that fatal night, November 2, 2003, that he wants a divorce, thereby springing her trap.
The motive, according to the prosecution, is equally "a classic,'' said King: "Money, love, lust and sex.''
King said the prosecution has used negative connotations when referring to Kissel's lover who lives in a trailer park in the New England state of Vermont, painting him as "someone living a wretched life, eyeing up wealthy people'' and then tacitly encouraging a pre-meditated plan to kill.
"That is pure speculation,'' King said.
Instead, Robert Kissel's ruthless competitiveness in work and play, his detailed supervision of household finances, his installation of spyware and hiring of private detectives, is evidence of the paranoid, controlling nature of a violently abusive husband, King submitted.
Robert Kissel had been searching for an excuse to have divorce proceedings go in his favor, hence his obsessive spying on his wife, said King. The deceased knew that if the accused filed for divorce on the grounds of spousal abuse and sexual violence, the ensuing proceedings, as of all divorce suits, would be "ugly, dirty and messy'' and that "his whole world (and career) would come crashing down,'' said King.
Given that common sense should rule out premeditation, and the solid evidence of Robert Kissel's controlling nature, the scenario of the husband confronting his wife with the threat of removing the children from her care, escalating into a furious struggle in which she fears for her life, is the genuine one, he submitted.
The accused inflicted five fatal blows and stopped only when she knew he couldn't harm her, said King.
"How can someone turn around and decide how many blows are necessary? Adrenaline and fear takes over and you do what you can to defend yourself,'' said King.
King spent much of the day listing a series of factors in the prosecution case which show that "the theory of pre-meditation goes out the window.''
He noted that the alleged murder weapon is a "family heirloom. What's more likely? That being chosen as the murder weapon, or that being picked up in self-defense?'' he asked.
Despite all the evidence that has been based upon e-mail correspondence captured by E-blaster spyware, there is nothing to suggest that the accused was planning a future with Michael Del Priore. "Where is the e-mail that says, 'Oh my darling, we will soon be together?''' he asked.
The suggestion that she killed for the money is also "nonsense'' said King. Claiming life insurance because one's husband has "disappeared'' is not possible.
"Their (Life Insurance Agents') investigation would be a lot more thorough than the investigation conducted in this trial,'' he said.
King noted that for most of 2003, the accused had already set up a home with her three children in a lovely house in Vermont. If she wanted money, she could have said, "sorry Robert, I'm not coming home, I'm filing for divorce,'' said King. Instead, when she received the call, "she quickly packed up to go home.''
All the evidence in the case show that the accused "was a very good organizer,'' he said.
"Where was the evidence for the disposal of the body before November 2? There simply is none,'' said King. Instead, the accused's "bizarre'' actions after that fatal incident, show her "meltdown in her mental condition.''
King asked why, if the rug was used to "dispose of the body,'' that brightly colored cushions were secured to the outside of the rug, "decorated it in such a way, making it almost unforgettable.''
He also noted, that according to the chronology of events, "she must have spent at least two nights in the bedroom with the body of her dead husband,'' said King.
If she had a pre-meditated scheme, she certainly did not rely upon it, he submitted.
Robert Kissel on the other hand, wanted to be "in total control'' at all times. When he suspected at the end of 2002, that their marriage might be in trouble, "did he use his usual energy to say, 'right lets go to marriage counsellors and sort it out'? What did he do? He installed spyware,'' said King, "so that six times a day, Robert Kissel could check on his wife.''
He reminded the jury that the E-Blaster was installed before the accused had even started a relationship with Del Priore.
According to his colleague David Noh, the deceased had also explored the possibility in the event of a divorce that the children live with the domestic helpers in a separate apartment from either parent.
"All the evidence is that she is a first-rate mother'' said King, but Robert Kissel wanted "a situation where you don't have the children either.''
"The truth (of Robert Kissel's character) is unpleasant, is brutal,'' said King. He was a man, who according to internet records, "in advance of travelling to destinations, is looking to procure gay sexual services,'' said King. Records also show that his first search term on Google in April, 2003, was "my wife is a bitch.''
He would refer to his wife in that way again, on November 2, 2003 when he was enraged at being hit by his wife, a reverse of the usual scenario of him doing the hitting, and bore down on her saying "I'm going to f****** kill you, you bitch,'' submitted King.
Earning US$2 million (HK$15.6 million) on average in annual bonuses on top of a US$175, 000 salary as a Managing Director at Merrill Lynch "does not put that person in a superior position in the family,'' said King. "How can you measure the contribution of a wife, of a mother? There is no price you can put on that job.''
King will continue his final speech today before Justice Michael Lunn.
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