The Nancy Kissel Case - Part 56(Reuters via NewKerala.com ) Hong Kong milkshake murder jury may retire Thursday. September 1, 2005.
The judge in the murder trial of an American woman who bludgeoned her banker husband to death said he would likely wrap up his summary of the evidence in time to allow the jury to retire to consider its verdict today.
The trial of Nancy Kissel for the murder of her husband Robert has riveted Hong Kong and its expatriate community since it began in June with tales of rough sex, marital violence and infidelity.
Nancy, 41, has admitted killing the top Merrill Lynch banker on November 2, 2003, but has pleaded not guilty to the premeditated offence of murder which carries a penalty of life in prison.
The prosecution has said Nancy Kissel intentionally bludgeoned Robert, 40, to death after searching the Internet for details on drugs, got them from doctors and gave her husband a strawberry milkshake spiked with sedatives.
Nancy Kissel has said she killed her husband, who the defence has painted as abusive, after he threatened to divorce her, take their children and attacked her with a baseball bat.
On Tuesday, the judge explained that the jury had the option to find that Nancy Kissel had committed manslaughter ''by reason of provocation'', a lesser offence than murder, killing him during a ''temporary and sudden loss of self control''.
The maximum penalty on that charge is also life in jail. There is no minimum.
(Associated Press via Pravda) Hong Kong jury charging American housewife for murdering her husband banker. September 1, 2005.
A jury on Thursday began debating the fate of an American housewife accused of murdering her husband in Hong Kong by drugging and bludgeoning him nearly two years ago.
High Kong Court Judge Michael Lunn instructed the five-man, two-woman jury to convict Nancy Kissel only on a vote of 5-2 or greater.
The sensational trial, which has dragged on for nearly three months, has captivated Hong Kong with explicit testimony about drugs, violence and sex.
Kissel, 41, has characterized her husband Robert, 40, a banker at Merrill Lynch, New-York, as a cocaine-using workaholic who physically abused her and demanded rough sex.
The prosecution has claimed that Kissel is a cold-blooded killer who drugged her husband with a sedative-laced milkshake, then smashed in his skull with five blows with a metal ornament.
Kissel, who said she sought refuge from her troubled marriage in an affair, has admitted killing her spouse in a confrontation, but denied murder.
(Bloomberg) Nancy Kissel Convicted of Murder in Hong Kong; Life Sentence. September 1, 2005.
Nancy Kissel, on trial in Hong Kong for killing her Merrill Lynch & Co. investment banker husband, was today sentenced to life in prison for his murder.
A jury of five men and two women told Hong Kong's High Court of the decision after eight hours of deliberations. The verdict was unanimous.
Nancy Kissel, 41, had pleaded not guilty to murder. Defense lawyer Alexander King said in his closing remarks on Aug. 29 that Kissel wasn't guilty as the killing was in self-defense and wasn't premeditated. The prosecution said Kissel drugged her millionaire husband on Nov. 2, 2003, by lacing a milkshake with sedatives and then beat him to death with a metal ornament.
"Robert Kissel, I pray, can now rest in peace,'' William Kissel, 77, the father of the deceased, said after the verdict. "The children can go on with their lives in peace knowing that their father loved them.''
Nancy Kissel, under cross-examination by Prosecutor Peter Chapman on Aug. 4, admitted that she killed her husband. She said the pair had a fight about getting a divorce and the custody of their three children. She said she defended herself with the metal ornament when Robert Kissel came at her, swinging a baseball bat and threatening to kill her.
"I'm still a little stunned,'' Jean McGloughlin, Nancy Kissel's mother, said after the verdict. "I'm right now going to try to get my feet on the ground.''
The body of Robert Kissel was found wrapped in a carpet five days later in a storeroom near the couple's Tai Tam apartment, according to a police report at the time.
Kissel said during the hearing that she had no recollection of how her husband died and what she did in the following few days.
The Kissels were married in 1989 in the U.S. and moved to Hong Kong in 1998. Merrill Lynch hired Robert 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 debt in the region.
Robert Kissel was educated at the University of Rochester's College of Engineering and had a master of business administration degree from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University. He worked as a vice president, research, for Lazard Freres & Co. from 1992 to 1997.
Nancy Kissel worked as a volunteer at Hong Kong International School, which her two daughters attended, and she had her own photography business.
The value of Robert Kissel's estates amounted to about $18 million, made up of stocks, life insurance polices, cash and real estate, according to Jane Clayton, Robert Kissel's younger sister, who gave evidence in June as a prosecution witness. Nancy Kissel is the beneficiary of Robert Kissel's will and life insurance policies, prosecution evidence showed.
Robert Kissel wanted a divorce because he suspected his wife of having an affair, the prosecution's Chapman told the court.
Kissel admitted she had an affair with a television repairman, Michael del Priore, who lived in a trailer park near the Kissels' holiday home in Vermont in the U.S., when she stayed with her children there during the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in Hong Kong in 2003.
Nancy Kissel's affair with del Priore was a "catalyst'' for the series of events leading to the death of Robert Kissel, Chapman alleged. Nancy Kissel killed her husband possibly with del Priore's "tacit encouragement'' and he regarded Kissel as a "potential gold mine,'' Chapman said.
Kissel admitted, when shown phone records, that she spoke with del Priore in the days after her husband was killed. She said she couldn't remember the content of the calls.
Nancy Kissel embarked on a cover-up of the killing over the next few days, lying to her father, maids and friends about the whereabouts of Robert Kissel, Chapman said. Meanwhile, she had taken steps to remove the bloodstained items in the master bedroom and had the body removed to the storeroom, the prosecutor said.
Defense lawyer King said Kissel's claim of memory loss was a genuine one. The trauma of what had happened had led to a "mental meltdown'' resulting in "bizarre behavior'' in the following few days, King said, in reference to the prosecution's allegation of a cover-up.
Kissel was detained at Siu Lam Psychiatric Center for about a year after her husband's death until November 2004, when she was free on bail.
The prosecutor alleged the fight that led to Robert Kissel's death was a deception created by Nancy Kissel and "just did not happen.'' Kissel had "rendered her husband defenseless'' by drugging him, using her daughter to deliver a drug-laced milkshake to him because he already suspected her of trying to poison him two months before he was killed.
Nancy Kissel inflicted "five grouped, accurate blows'' to the right side of the head of her husband and any one of the blows could have proved fatal, Chapman said.
Chapman alleged that Kissel searched the Internet for "overdose on sleeping pills'' in late August 2003 and stocked up on drugs a week before she allegedly laced the milkshake with sedatives. Four of the six drugs found in Robert Kissel's stomach content after he died were prescribed to Nancy Kissel by two doctors, the prosecutor said. Nancy Kissel denied she drugged her husband before bludgeoning him to death.
Nancy Kissel had given evidence she was the victim of "five years of humiliating, degrading sexual abuse and violence'' at the hands of Robert Kissel, who abused cocaine, sleeping pills, painkillers and alcohol.
"No one appeared to notice the effect of five years of abuse on Nancy Kissel and asked about this,'' Chapman said in his closing remarks on Aug. 26, 2005. "The reason is that the claims of years of the abuse and violence never happened.''
The case is HKSAR v. Nancy Ann Kissel, case no. HCCC113/2004 in the Court of First Instance of the High Court.
(Associated Press via CNN.com) 'Milkshake murder': Guilty verdict. By Helen Luk. September 1, 2005.
A Hong Kong jury Thursday convicted an American of murdering her wealthy investment banker husband by drugging him with a milkshake laced with sedatives and beating him to death in the couple's luxury apartment.
Nancy Kissel -- dressed in black, as she has been throughout the trial -- was expressionless as the seven-member jury returned the verdict in the November 2003 death of her husband, Robert, of New York. The conviction carries a mandatory life sentence. Defense lawyer Alexander King, who argued that his client killed her husband in self-defense and was the victim of abusive sex, refused to say whether she would appeal.
The verdict in what became known as the "Milkshake Murder" trial came after dozens of witnesses spent nearly three months testifying in one of Hong Kong's longest and most high-profile murder trials. The often sensational testimony about abusive sex, adultery, cocaine and money gave the public a rare peek inside the private life of a wealthy foreign couple.
Robert Kissel's father, William, said he was thrilled by the verdict. "It's a 65-day trial and it's unanimous. That's justice," he said. "All the allegations made in the court (about Robert) are false, untrue," William Kissel added. "And Robert, I pray, can now rest in peace and his children can go on with their lives in peace knowing their father loved them and they are his dear children."
Nancy Kissel's mother, Jean McGlothlin, said: "Right now, I'm just going to try and get by."
The prosecution portrayed the 41-year-old defendant as a cold-blooded killer who murdered her husband -- a top investment banker at Merrill Lynch -- as he prepared to divorce her and seek custody of their three children. Robert Kissel, 40, was furious that his wife had an affair with a repairman who lived in a trailer park near the couple's vacation home in Vermont, the prosecution said.
But the defense argued that the husband was an abusive workaholic who snorted cocaine and often forcefully sodomized his wife, driving her to seek comfort from a lover. It said Nancy Kissel, who was born in Adrian, Michigan, and also lived in Minneapolis, killed her husband in self-defense as he was attacking her with a baseball bat during an argument.
The prosecution said she tried to cover up the crime by rolling up her husband's body in a rug and having it hauled away to a storage locker rented by the couple.
Nancy Kissel testified that she couldn't clearly remember what happened following her husband's death. Investigators found his body in the storage locker two days after the killing.
(Associated Press via The Guardian) Hong Kong Jury Convicts American Woman. By Helen Luk. September 1, 2005.
An American was convicted Thursday of murdering her wealthy husband in a sensational trial full of lurid details: a milkshake spiked with a date-rape drug, a love affair with a trailer park dweller and a decomposing body rolled up in a rug and stashed in a storage locker.
Nancy Kissel, 41, who had testified that she killed her husband, Robert, in self- defense, listened stoically to the verdict that got her a mandatory life sentence. Her lawyer wouldn't say whether she would appeal.
People packed the courtroom during what became known as the ''Milkshake Murder'' trial to listen to witnesses describe the Kissels' troubled marriage that ended November 2003 in the bloody bedroom of their luxury apartment on a mountain overlooking Hong Kong's dazzling skyscrapers.
The three months of testimony gave the public a rare glimpse into the private life of one of the expatriate families who seem to live in an ideal world of maids, fancy cars, swimming pools, cocktail parties and high-flying finance jobs in this global business center.
A seven-member jury convicted Kissel of murdering her investment banker husband by mixing him a milkshake laced with sedatives before striking him five times in the head with a heavy metal ornament.
Kissel, who dressed in black throughout the trial, was depicted by the prosecution as a cold-blooded killer who carefully planned the murder, surfing the Internet for tips on how to drug her husband, a top investment banker at Merrill Lynch. A mixture of sedatives - including the date-rape drug Rohypnol - was found in his stomach.
The prosecution argued that Robert Kissel, 40, of New York, was seeking a divorce and custody of their three children partly because he caught his wife having an affair. The lover - acknowledged by Nancy Kissel - was a TV repairman who lived in a trailer park near the couple's vacation home in Vermont.
Nancy Kissel, who was born in Adrian, Mich., and studied business at the University of Minnesota, said her husband was a cocaine-snorting, whisky-swilling, abusive, workaholic monster who frequently forced her to have anal sex. She said he was dragging her into the bedroom and assaulting her with a baseball bat the night she killed him in self-defense.
The woman testified that she lost her memory after she killed her husband.
The prosecution said the body was left in the bedroom for two days before she rolled it up in a carpet and asked maintenance workers to haul it away to a storage locker the couple rented in the apartment complex. The workers said the carpet had a rotten fish smell, and one of the family's two Filipino maids noted that it seemed unusually bulky.
A day after the killing, Nancy Kissel sent an e-mail to a friend saying, ''My husband is not well. I need to take care of something with him,'' the prosecution said.
Nancy Kissel's mother supported her during the trial in this former British colony, where English is still the language used in court. The victim's father, William Kissel, was also present, taking careful notes.
As the jury deliberated Thursday, William Kissel spoke to a big pack of reporters outside the courtroom.
''This is not a moral person,'' he said of his daughter-in-law. ''This is a coward.''
Nearby, Nancy Kissel's friends gathered around her mother, Jean McGlothlin, and shot angry glances at William Kissel and whispered to each other. They declined to speak to reporters.
After the verdict, McGlothlin said only: ''Right now, I'm just going to try and get by. Feet on the ground again.''
William Kissel was thrilled with the jury's unanimous decision. ''It's a 65-day trial and its unanimous,'' he said. ''That's justice.''
(Telegraph) 'Milkshake murder' wife is jailed for life. By Richard Spencer. September 2, 2005.
An American mother of three was found guilty yesterday of bludgeoning her merchant banker husband to death after drugging his milkshake, at the end of a trial that gripped Hong Kong's expatriate community.
Nancy Kissel, 41, was sentenced to life in prison for killing her husband Robert with a statuette after lacing his milk shake with the date-rape drug rohypnol, three types of sleeping tablet and an anti-depressant.
The details of the couple's marital breakdown, involving allegations of adultery, drugs, homosexual sex, private investigators and computer bugging, have also fascinated the local Chinese population.
The case, dubbed the "Milkshake Murder" was heard by a jury in Hong Kong's Court of First Instance - a relic of the British legal system retained despite the handover to China.
The death of Mr Kissel, 40, on Nov 2, 2003, marked the final collapse of the couple's relationship that had deteriorated since spring 2003, when Mrs Kissel took the children back to the family home in Vermont to escape the outbreak of Sars in Hong Kong. She began an affair with a television repairman.
Her husband became suspicious, hiring private investigators to tail the couple and installing spyware on their home computer and her laptop.
Evidence that Mrs Kissel had drugged her husband came from forensic scientists who tested the contents of his stomach. A neighbour told the court Mr Kissel passed out after drinking the milkshake.
During the evening, Mr Kissel died, struck five times by the lead statuette. Three days later, his wife rolled his body in a carpet, and had unknowing workmen carry it to a storeroom in their apartment complex.
The prosecution's case was that Mrs Kissel stood to gain £10 million in savings, life insurance and pay-outs from Merrill Lynch, where her husband was a managing director.
Her defence relied on computer records that showed he was a regular visitor to pornographic websites featuring black gay sex and Taiwanese female escort services.
Mrs Kissel claimed in tearful testimony - which brought such crowds to the public gallery that the judge ordered a queuing system be devised - that she had concealed from all their friends and family a lifetime of abuse. Her husband forced her to submit to sex acts and was often violent, she said.
On the night he died, she said, she picked up the ornament when he attacked her with a baseball bat. Prosecutors said her claims that he was violent were fiction.
In his summing up, Mr Justice Lunn pointed to the many contradictions in the case.
(Independent) Housewife guilty of Hong Kong 'milkshake murder'. By William Foreman. September 2, 2005.
An American woman was found guilty yesterday of killing her wealthy husband in a Hong Kong murder trial full of bizarre details: a milkshake allegedly spiked with a date-rape drug, a love affair with a trailer park dweller and a decomposing body rolled up in a rug and stashed in a storage locker.
People packed the courtroom to listen to details of Robert and Nancy Kissel's troubled marriage that ended in November 2003 in the bedroom of their luxury apartment overlooking Hong Kong.
The three months of testimony gave the public a rare glimpse into the private life of one of the wealthy expatriate families who seem to live in an ideal world.
A seven-member jury convicted Nancy Kissel, 41, of murdering her investment banker husband by mixing him a milkshake laced with sedatives before striking his head five times with a heavy metal ornament. She listened stoically to the verdict that got her a mandatory life sentence. Her lawyer wouldn't say whether she would appeal.
Robert Kissel was from New York, while his wife was born in Adrian, Michigan, and studied business at the University of Minnesota.
The prosecution said that the mousey brunette who dressed in black during the trial was a cold-blooded killer who carefully planned the murder, surfing the internet for tips on how to drug her husband - a top investment banker at Merrill Lynch. A mixture of sedatives - including the date-rape drug Rohypnol - was found in his stomach.
The prosecution argued that Robert Kissel, 40, was seeking a divorce and custody of their three children partly because he caught her having an affair. The lover - acknowledged by Nancy Kissel - was a TV repairman who lived in a trailer park near the couple's vacation home in the US state of Vermont.
Nancy Kissel said her husband was a cocaine-snorting, whisky-swilling, abusive, workaholic monster who frequently forced her to have anal sex. She said he was dragging her into the bedroom and assaulting her with a baseball bat the night she killed him in self defence. She said she lost her memory after killing her husband.
The prosecution said the body was left in the bedroom for two days before Nancy Kissel rolled it up in a carpet and asked maintenance workers to haul it away to a storage locker. The workers said the carpet had a rotten fish smell, and a maid noted that it seemed unusually bulky.
A day after the killing, Nancy Kissel e-mailed a friend saying: "My husband is not well. I need to take care of something with him."
Nancy Kissel's mother supported her during the trial in this former British colony, where English is still the language used in court. The victim's father, William Kissel, was also present. After the verdict, he said said: "Right now, I'm just going to try and get by. Feet on the ground again."
William Kissel, was thrilled with the jury's 7-0 decision. "It's a 65-day trial and its unanimous," he said. "That's justice."
(Times) Banker's wife is given life sentence for Hong Kong 'milkshake murder'. By Jane MacCartney. September 2, 2005.
Nancy Kissel, the “milkshake murderess”, began a life sentence last night after a Hong Kong jury found the American housewife guilty of battering her wealthy banker husband to death in their bedroom in a case that has transfixed the former British colony.
For 65 days, in what has been one of Hong Kong’s longest and highest-profile murder trials, the seven members of the jury had listened to testimony about alleged abusive sex, adultery, cocaine and money in a hearing that gave a rare glimpse into the private lives of the rich expatriate community.
Mrs Kissel, dressed in the black that she had chosen to wear throughout the trial, sat expressionless as the jury pronounced its verdict on the November 2003 death of her husband, Robert.
The judge swiftly handed down the mandatory sentence of life in prison for the 41-year-old mother of three.
Mrs Kissel had admitted killing her 40-year-old husband, who worked for the American investment bank Merrill Lynch, in the luxury flat that they shared with their children and two maids.
But she had denied murdering him, saying that he had abused her and had demanded anal sex, and that she had fought back when he attacked her with a baseball bat.
The jury deliberated for eight hours and its verdict was unanimous. The jurors had heard the prosecutor accuse Mrs Kissel of spiking a strawberry milkshake with a cocktail of sedatives, including Rohyp- nol, and offering it to her husband and a neighbour who was visiting the family with his daughter in their Parkview apartment complex on the leafy hills overlooking the harbour.
They had heard Mrs Kissel — a prominent member of the Jewish community in Hong Kong — described as a cold-blooded killer who murdered her husband as he prepared to divorce her and seek custody of their children.
And they had heard Mrs Kissel break down in tears after she stunned the courtroom by admitting that she had killed her husband. She repeatedly insisted during her testimony: “I still love my husband.”
The couple married in America in 1989 and arrived in Hong Kong in 1997. But a relationship described by one friend as “the best marriage in the Universe” had begun to unravel many months before Mrs Kissel beat her husband to death.
Mr Kissel was furious when he learnt that his wife had begun an affair with a television repairman who lived in a trailer park near their holiday home in Vermont. Mrs Kissel, her children and a maid had returned to the United States in early 2003 to escape the Sars oubreak in Asia. Mr Kissel had employed a private detective to carry out surveillance of the house for 11 days in June and July 2003 because of his suspicions.
Two months before his death, Mr Kissel had become even more suspicious of his wife and her intentions. He told the private detective that he believed that she was spiking his whisky because his evening drink did not taste normal and made him feel woozy and disorientated. The private detective had advised his client to contact the police, but Mr Kissel said that he felt guilty about his suspicions and never acted on them.
In the end it was a milkshake, and not a whisky, that left him incapacitated in the couple’s bedroom on November 2, 2003.
The prosecutor described how that night Mrs Kissel used a lead ornament to deliver five fatal blows to her husband’s head, severely fracturing his skull and spattering blood across their bed and over the television screen. For two days she slept with her husband’s dead body. She also called his mobile phone after telling friends and family that he had gone away.
Her maid remembered that she had been told not to go into the master bedroom and had been sent on unusual errands, including buying a nylon rope and clearing out a storeroom.
Mrs Kissel herself went on a buying spree, spending several thousand pounds on carpets and furniture.
Three days after the killing, she ordered the maid to call in workmen to move several objects, including a rolled-up carpet and her husband’s golf clubs, to a nearby storeroom that she had rented.
The couple’s four-year-old son held open the door for the workmen and commented on the “smelly” carpet. The workmen said that it smelt “fishy”. Inside the carpet was her husband’s corpse. Police found the body two days later after he had been reported missing.
The trial has made headlines daily in the English and Chinese language media in Hong Kong, where people were gripped by the details of life among wealthy foreigners who live in large, expensive homes paid for by their employers in one of the most crowded cities in the world.
Mrs Kissel’s mother, Jean McGlothlin, said after the verdict: “Right now, I’m just going to try and get by. Feet on the ground again.”
The victim’s father, William Kissel, expressed delight. He said: “That’s justice. All the allegations made in the court [about Robert] are false, untrue. And Robert, I pray, can now rest in peace and his children can go on with their lives in peace knowing their father loved them and they are his dear children.”
(International Herald Tribune) An affair, a milkshake and a guilty verdict. By Keith Bradser. September 2, 2005.
A life of housemaids, black-tie balls and country homes that ended with a senior Merrill Lynch banker lying beaten to death on his bedroom floor produced a guilty verdict here Thursday and a life sentence for murder for the banker's 41-year-old American wife.
In a case that transfixed investment bankers here and in New York and captivated expatriates across Asia, a seven-member jury found Nancy Ann Kissel guilty of murder for fatally crushing the skull of her husband, Robert Peter Kissel, on Nov. 2, 2003.
Prosecutors accused Kissel of giving her husband a milkshake laced with powerful sleep medications, pummeling his unconscious body and then trying to cover up the evidence by tying up the body in a carpet and stuffing bloody evidence into moving boxes. She acknowledged during the three-month trial that she had killed her husband with five blows to the head from an 8-pound, or 3.6-kilogram, figurine made of lead, but testified that he had threatened her with a baseball bat and that she had acted in self-defense.
The litigation also drew attention in New York because of the prosecution this summer of Robert Kissel's brother, Andrew Kissel, on charges of engineering an elaborate real estate fraud in the New York City area involving tens of millions of dollars. Charles Clayman, Andrew Kissel's lawyer, has said that his client was under severe stress because of his brother's murder and the charging of his sister-in-law.
The three young children of Robert and Nancy Kissel are temporarily in the care of Andrew Kissel and his wife, Hayley Wolff. The allocation of Robert Kissel's $18 million estate has not been decided.
The jury deliberated for only seven hours before delivering a unanimous verdict of guilty of murder. Had the jury not convicted her of murder, it could have chosen a lesser sentence of "manslaughter with provocation."
The mandatory sentence for murder in Hong Kong is life in prison, and Justice Michael Lunn handed down the sentence immediately after the verdict.
Kissel admitted during the trial that when she flew with the children to Vermont in the spring of 2003, fleeing an outbreak of SARS in Hong Kong, she had an adulterous affair with a television repairman. Her husband suspected the affair and hired a private detective, who photographed the repairman's van outside the house for several hours nightly.
The prosecution said Robert Kissel had been preparing to divorce her, The Associated Press reported.
Robert Kissel had also installed spy software on his wife's laptop computer. The prosecution presented evidence that upon returning to Hong Kong, she had typed search terms like "overdose of sleeping pills" and "medications causing heart attack." She then went to local doctors who wrote a series of prescriptions for sleep medications.
The prosecution alleged that Nancy Kissel had served her husband a milkshake laced with rohypnol and three other sleep-inducing drugs, all of which an autopsy found in his stomach. A coroner's investigation found that each of the blows to Robert Kissel's head had driven skull fragments deep enough into his brain to kill him.
The following day, Nancy Kissel sent one of her maids out for packing tape and another for rope, while she went out and bought a carpet and ordered packing boxes, according to testimony in the trial. She loaded the lead statue and other bloodied items into the boxes and tied up her husband's body in the carpet before calling workmen from her apartment building to haul the evidence down to a storeroom she had rented in the basement.
Telephone records showed that she had been in daily contact by phone with a television repairman in Vermont, and had made preparations to fly to San Francisco.
Nancy Kissel and her lawyer, Alexander King, contended that her husband had regularly abused whiskey and cocaine. The assertions were denied by former close colleagues of the dead man who had worked with him at both Merrill Lynch and his previous employer, Goldman Sachs.
King also said that Robert Kissel had frequently coerced his wife into having painful anal sex for five years before his death, and was trying to do so again at the time she killed him. He presented evidence that Robert Kissel had used his computer to look at homosexual pornography and to search for information about anal sex in Taiwan before taking a trip there.
Nancy Kissel has memory lapses that prevent her from recalling her actions in the four days from the killing until the discovery of the body, King said. She slept with the corpse for two nights, he said, presenting this as evidence that she had mental lapses after the killing.
The judge noted in his instructions to the jury that the defense had presented evidence, never contradicted by the prosecution, that Nancy Kissel had done considerable volunteer work in Hong Kong's Jewish community and at Hong Kong International School, the American school that the couple's three children attended.
William Kissel, the dead man's father, told reporters waiting outside the courtroom on Thursday afternoon that he did not believe his son had suffered a cocaine addiction or been violent, and that his son's desire for a divorce was understandable.
"She had a better way out of the marriage," he said. "You put drugs in your husband's milkshake and you kill him."
(Reuters) Wife sentenced to life for HK "milkshake" murder. By John Ruwitch. September 1, 2005.
(credit: Paul Yeung/Reuters)
American housewife Nancy Kissel was sentenced to life in a Hong Kong prison on Thursday for murdering her banker husband in 2003, ending a trial that riveted the territory with tales of rough sex, marital violence and adultery.
After about eight hours of deliberation, a seven-member jury delivered a unanimous verdict before the court. Asked how the jury found, the foreman simply replied: "Guilty."
The judge then ordered an expressionless Kissel, seated in the dock in the back of the courtroom, to stand and sentenced her to life in prison.
The trial of Nancy Kissel for the murder of her husband Robert, a top banker with Merrill Lynch, has engrossed Hong Kong since it began in early June, offering a rare glimpse into the high-living lifestyle that some foreign professionals enjoy in the former British colony.
"Robert, I pray, can now rest in peace and his children can now go on with their lives in peace, knowing that their father loved them and held them dear," his father, William Kissel, told reporters after the verdict.
"I'm just happy that it has worked out this way ... We've had a 65-day court trial and it's unanimous. That's justice."
Nancy's lawyer, Alexander King, declined to say if she would appeal, but said Hong Kong law permitted appeals within 21 days.
"I think I'm still a little stunned," Nancy's mother, Jean McGlothlin, said after the verdict. "Right now I'm just going to try and get my feet on the ground again."
Nancy, 41, admitted to killing the prominent banker on November 2, 2003, but pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder.
Prosecutors said she fed Robert, 40, a milkshake spiked with sedatives and smashed his skull repeatedly with a heavy metal ornament after he was incapacitated. An autopsy showed that he had traces of sedatives in his stomach.
They said Robert had been planning to divorce Nancy and wanted custody of their children after discovering she had an affair with a TV repairman in the United States.
Nancy told the court that she had struck her husband five times on the side of his head after he attempted to force her to have anal sex and hit her repeatedly.
Friends had considered the Kissels a model couple.
Earlier, Nancy told the court that her husband had often flown into rages fueled by cocaine and alcohol and had abused her physically and sexually for years.
She said she could not recall much of what happened in the days after Robert was killed.
Witnesses said she ordered shipping boxes from a moving company, in which police later found blood-stained items.
Her maids said she ordered them to buy rope and tape, and Kissel had workers in her apartment complex move a rolled up carpet with Robert's body in it to a store room.
His body was discovered on November 6 after a friend filed a missing person's report.
(The Standard) GUILTY. By Albert Wong. September 2, 2005.
Nancy Kissel is guilty of the cold- blooded killing of her wealthy Merrill Lynch banker husband, Robert.
After a three-month trial that had much of Hong Kong's expatriate community following its every turn, Kissel was sentenced to spend the rest of her life in prison for the murder of her husband after a seven-person jury returned its unanimous verdict Thursday evening.
The jury took only a few hours to reach its decision.
At 8.30pm, in High Court 33, a silent but packed courtroom heard the jury foreman read "Guilty" of murder as charged.
American Kissel, 41, a native of the state of Minnesota, did not react.
With the accused standing before him, Justice Michael Lunn pronounced: "As I am required to do so by law, I impose a sentence of life imprisonment upon you."
Murder carries a mandatory life sentence in Hong Kong.
Head bowed, Kissel - dressed in the same black attire she has worn throughout the trial - was led away by four officers of the Correctional Services Department.
She was not given a chance to embrace her mother, Jean McGlothlin, sitting closest to the dock.
Her lawyer, Alexander King, would not comment on whether Kissel will lodge an appeal.
The father of the deceased, William Kissel, said the unanimous decision cleared his son's name of the many allegations made against him and that Robert could now rest in peace.
"That's justice," he said. "All the allegations made in the court [about Robert] are false, untrue. And Robert, I pray, can now rest in peace and his children can go on with their lives in peace knowing their father loved them and they are his dear children."
McGlothlin, received embraces and words of support from her friends, including Nancy Nassberg and Renee Tanaka, both of whom testified in Nancy's defense.
Red-eyed and "a little stunned," but calm, McGlothlin addressed reporters, thanking them "for the respect you have shown me and my family. It's helped me enormously," she said.
"Right now, I'm just going to try and get by. Feet on the ground again."
Kissel's friend Geertuida Samra was in court to hear the end of the trial, but was not present for the verdict.
Samra had worked closely with the convicted murderer as president of the Parent Faculty Organisation of the elite Hong Kong International School, provided surety for her bail application and visited the accused while in Siu Lam psychiatric center after the murder.
Although she had not been told about Nancy's lover Michael Del Priore, nor any specific incidents of violence or abuse, she said in her testimony: "I never thought I should be curious about what happened. I trust her."
Justice Lunn finished his summary of the evidence and directions to the jury around 12.30pm. Eight hours later, the five men and two women of the jury returned without looking towards the accused.
Further details of the trial also emerged Thursday that, due to reporting restrictions in a jury trial, could not be revealed earlier.
Perhaps presaging her eventual fate, Kissel's bail was revoked mid-way through the trial, on August 11, although the jury was never told.
After she finished her testimony, the prosecution had suggested that her accusations against her husband and claims of memory loss were lies, and Justice Lunn requested a secret hearing without the presence of the public and the jury.
Since that moment, Kissel has not been seen in public.
Another controversy arose without the jury's knowledge when, mid-way through the prosecution case, the defense revealed that they had in their possession a baseball bat which had been removed from the crime scene by one of the solicitors on November 9 and would be submitted as a defense exhibit. The judge also ordered Thursday that trial transcripts in which the mystery bat was discussed will "be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions for directions as he sees fit."
In relation to the baseball bat in his summary to the jury, the judge pointed out "we know nothing at all" as to why the defense lawyer chose to take the baseball bat, and keep it in his office until mid-way through the trial without producing it.
The judge ruled without the jury on July 22 that he would admit the bat as evidence since it was central to the defendant's case, but noted that it was astonishing that the defense notified the court only at that stage, given the "the significance of the baseball bat."
Kissel was charged with murdering her husband with a heavy metal ornament on the night of November 2, 2003. With no video footage or eye-witnesses, the prosecution relied on circumstantial evidence as to her state of mind and other activities in the months leading up to the murder as proof of premeditation.
In June and July, documents gathered via computer spyware and private detectives suggested that she began an affair with electrical repairman Del Priore in Vermont, who the prosecution suggested had provided "tacit encouragement" for the murder of Robert Kissel.
In August, an Internet search was made for drugs causing overdose. In late October, the accused was prescribed Rohypnol, the infamous "date rape" drug, followed by more prescriptions of sedatives and hypnotics.
The prosecution said these drugs were served to Robert Kissel, disguised in a pink milkshake, to render him defenseless as she bludgeoned him to death with five blows to the right hand side of the head, each one of them fatal, with a heavy metal ornament.
When the decomposing body was unwrapped from the carpet on November 7, 2003, the government pathologist said he found "massive spillage of brain substance" and that fractured bones from the skull and been pressed into the brain.
The jury unanimously accepted this as reliable evidence that Kissel had murdered her husband of 16 years with whom she had three children.
The eventual fate of the couple's three young children - Elaine, June and Reese - remains uncertain. They are currently in the custody of Robert Kissel's brother Andrew and his wife Hayley. But Andrew was recently indicted for financial fraud in the United States and his wife has filed for divorce.
Robert Kissel had been a top banker with both Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch working with corporate distressed debt in the Asia Pacific Region.
(The Standard) Lover 'bragged' of affair. By A. Lin Neumann. September 2, 2005.
Throughout the long saga of the Kissel murder trial, one central player has been discussed, pointed at and wondered about. What role, if any, did Nancy Kissel's adulterous affair with Michael Del Priore play in the murder of her husband?
The prosecution did not present a deposition from Del Priore, who lives in a trailer park near the Kissel family's vacation home in rural Vermont, and he was never present in the courtroom. But the ruggedly handsome audio-visual technician was a force in the trial from the beginning.
Prosecutors suggested that Michael Del Priore had a hand in encouraging the murder. The defense says he was nothing more than a shoulder for her to cry on.
But, asked to react by telephone to news of the guilty verdict just moments after it was handed down, Del Priore's younger brother, Lance, was forceful. "Justice has been served," he told The Standard. "I think the verdict is justified."
In his eyes, the affair his brother carried on with Nancy Kissel was shameful and has resulted in the two brothers becoming estranged.
Earlier, Lance Del Priore, who owns the high-end AV equipment dealership his brother was working for when the affair began with Kissel, said he was shocked by the affair and the murder. "It was just wrong. I fired him because of the affair," Lance Del Priore said. "Rob Kissel was a customer of ours for years, and a very decent man."
The two brothers have not spoken since the week of the murder. After the news broke of the November 2 killing, Del Priore called his brother. "Mike, Rob's dead," he told him. "Mike replied, 'All I can tell you is he beat the hell out of Nancy and her father is going to Hong Kong.' I was suspicious. I think he knew something."
As trial testimony revealed, Nancy Kissel and Michael Del Priore spoke many times while she was in Hong Kong, including a lengthy conversation after the murder, the content of which has not been revealed.
The victim's father, William Kissel, said as the jury was deliberating: "She [Nancy] did and said things that only a Michael Del Priore could have taught her."
To this day, Lance Del Priore feels guilty that he sent his troubled brother into the path of the Kissel family by dispatching him to install a high-end home-theater system in the Kissel residence.
Following news of the trial, Lance Del Priore says he and his family have been shocked at the picture painted of Robert Kissel as an abusive drug user. They knew him as a devoted father and a nice man.
As for Nancy Kissel: "I just keep thinking she made some really bad decisions," he says. One of the worst, he says, was taking up with his twice- married brother, a man with a reputation for chasing women.
When Del Priore learned about the affair, he begged his brother to break it off and tried to give him a second chance.
"He came into a Bible study I was having with two friends at my home one evening [in September 2003]," Del Priore remembers.
"Mike broke down and cried and confessed the affair that night."
Hoping it was the end of it, Lance Del Priore kept quiet, even when he knew that a private detective was looking for evidence of the affair on behalf of Robert Kissel, who had grown suspicious. "I regret that I did not say anything to anyone," he says. "It might have helped."
Instead, he later learned, the relationship continued. "Mike was wearing a US$5,000 (HK$39,000) watch he said Nancy had given him. I told him to give that watch up, but he wouldn't. It meant that much to him," Del Priore said. "Michael talked to people around town about the affair. He bragged about getting rich. He made plans to meet her. It was just wrong."
After learning his brother lied about cutting off the relationship, Del Priore fired him. His brother went off on his own, opening a small business, Amity Security and Alarm, in nearby Hinsdale, New Hampshire. Repeated calls to the firm were answered by a male voice on a machine requesting callers to leave a message. Despite leaving several messages, no one returned the calls to The Standard.
Lance Del Priore says he believes his brother has gone into hiding.
Troubled relationships have been a pattern for Michael Del Priore his whole life, according to his brother. Married twice - the last time to a girl 15 years old when he met her about 10 years ago - the 41-year-old Michael Del Priore was "looking for a big chance" when he found Nancy Kissel, his brother says.
"He was bragging about money and what he was going to get out of Nancy," his brother says.
For Lance Del Priore, who has never been to Hong Kong, the murder is something that will haunt him forever. He wants to apologize to the Kissel family, and he hopes they will forgive him.
"I just feel remorse over this whole situation," he said.
Finally, Lance Del Priore will always remember the chilling phone call he received from Robert Kissel's brother, Andrew, just after the murder.
"The phone rang and it was Andrew. All he said was: 'Your brother killed my brother."'
(The Standard) Dad agonized over -'false' charges against victim. By Albert Wong. September 2005.
Lewd allegations made against murdered banker Robert Kissel are false, his father William Kissel said after a jury unanimously found Nancy Kissel guilty of murder Thursday.
The summer-long trial had been agonizing for William Kissel, who sat through allegations that his deceased son forced sodomy on his wife, viewed gay pornographic Web sites, abused alcohol and cocaine, and was violent towards his children.
To make matters worse, while the trial was in full swing, his elder son, Andrew, was charged in the United States for fraud in relation to real estate transactions.
After the jury's decision, William Kissel said the guilty verdict vindicated Robert. He also hoped that his three grandchildren, who are receiving help from counsellors, could now be sure that their father loved him.
William Kissel also said he will phone his daughter, Jane Clayton, who was the first prosecution witness in the trial.
He thanked the police officers and the lawyers who helped prosecute his former daughter-in-law. Referring to senior assistant director of public prosecutions, Peter Chapman, he said "he did a superb job."
And the jurors? "What can I say? They're all superb," he said.
His next plan is to visit Robert Kissel's grave in New Jersey where he can now rest in peace, he said.
Despite the long summary of evidence by Justice Michael Lunn and the eight-hour wait for the verdict, over sixty people including reporters, photographers, curious members of the public and well-wishers of the two families waited for the verdict.
The lobby on the 13th floor in the High Court was hot and tense, the air humid.
During the afternoon, a minor confrontation broke out between well- known former American television reporter, Jim Laurie, whose wife was a potential witness for the defense, and William Kissel.
Laurie wondered aloud whether Kissel thought the children had a right to see their mother, Nancy, again.
"What do you think?" replied Kissel. "She's killed her husband and now she's condemned her children" to an unhappy life.
In Kissel's opinion, if the convicted murderer had wished the best for her children she would not have committed a character assassination of their father in court by describing him as a violent alcoholic and drug-abusing sexual deviant.
The jury retired around 12.30pm, but there was a flurry of activity at five in the afternoon, as the crowds rushed to fill up the courtroom, only to be notified that new jury bailiffs needed to be sworn in.
During the trial, members of both families were often present, sitting on opposite sides of the room, as if they hardly recognized each other.
Nancy Kissel's mother Jean McGlothlin sat in the seat closest to her daughter in the dock every day. During breaks between the proceedings, they would embrace each other.
When Nancy's bail was revoked, this was done through the gaps between the bars of the docks.
On the other side of the room, William Kissel and at times his daughter Jane Clayton took notes, while Nancy Kissel testified about the nature of her relationship with the victim, beginning in 1987 when they met. When the accusations against Robert were laid down, the elder Kissel's pained response was evident in his mutterings and shaking of his head.
Consequently, holiday pictures of Nancy Kissel, smiling with her husband, dressed in swimwear and sleeveless clothing without any obvious signs of injury or abuse, were provided to the prosecution and to the jury.
The judge recognized that the long trial, including the "gruesome details" of the murder, had also been a burden for the seven jurors, and he ordered that they be given the maximum re-imbursement of HK$280 a day and an exemption from further jury service for the next 15 years.
(The Standard) Robert 'would probably ask -for compassion' By Justin Mitchell. September 2, 2005.
As the dead can't speak for themselves, it's left for those who knew and loved Robert Kissel to speak on his behalf.
In court testimony his widow and confessed killer portrayed the millionaire investment banker as an angry, abusive cocaine- and scotch-fueled sodomite - possibly with a penchant for gay sex.
At one point Nancy Kissel testified that she told her psychiatrist that Robert had been expelled from high school for dealing drugs.
That's not the Robert Kissel that Carol Japngie-Horton or her family knew at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, New Jersey, in 1978.
They dated for two years, "a seriously long time in high school," she said from her Phoenix, Arizona, home and even after their breakup he made good on an earlier promise and took her to her senior prom. They remained in touch off-and-on throughout the years, although she didn't learn of his death until two years after the fact.
"Rob was never suspended or expelled from high school. He was a straight-A student, and he certainly never dealt drugs," Horton said.
"He left public school to go to a private all-boys prep school. Rob was really sweet and quiet. He was totally approachable to anyone, very laid back, mellow, and handsome.
"He was the most sought-after boy in school, all the girls had a crush on him," she said. "We became friends first. I think I was trying to hook him up with another girl. But he invited me to go with his family on a ski trip and we ended up getting together then."
Horton said it was the first of many ski weekends she spent with his family and the two were virtually inseparable, spending time at each other's homes for those two years.
She was particularly struck by two things - how well he related to women, particularly his mother and younger sister Jane, and how he was the only boyfriend she'd had who'd been able to make her father, a rather stern Ingersol- Rand executive, smile.
"He treated his sister Jane and his mother Elaine with the upmost respect and love. He was always patient with Jane, who, at the time, was a little girl that most big brothers in most families would not want to have much to do with.
"I remember watching Rob and Jane perform ballet together on skis. God they were beautiful to watch. He was so graceful and had the ability to master anything he wanted. He didn't really have to put his mind to it. Everything came naturally to him.
" My dad was a very strict business man who never really smiled. He didn't like any boy I brought to home to introduce. Rob was the only boy that he would crack a smile for. It was amazing to watch."
Horton's mother, Marjorie Japngie, added that. as far as her husband was concerned, no boy her daughter brought home after the breakup could measure up to Rob Kissel.
"Much to Carol's chagrin, whenever she brought home a new suitor her father would always compare him to Rob and they all fell short one way or another," Japngie wrote in an e-mail.
She described him as a "quiet, serious young man with impeccable manners and a sweet smile that would melt any mother's heart. "The news of his death brings bitter tears. But the memory of the kind, gentle, and loving young man that enhanced all our lives remains."
Horton, a graphic designer, said though her contact with Kissel was sporadic after college, Nancy Kissel's portrait of her husband as an out-of- control man who reportedly broke his daughter's arm was alien.
"I lost touch with Rob for years after school, I was traveling all over the place. I found him again through a friend years later, before he went to Hong Kong.
"We talked over the phone, he told me he got married and had a little girl. He told me about his mother's death and that he named his daughter after her.
"It was a sweet conversation but I never spoke to him again after that."
It wasn't until two years after his November 2, 2003, death and at the start of Nancy Kissel's trial that she learned of her old flame's fate via e-mail.
"A friend e-mailed me to let me know. When I read the news I burst into tears and couldn't finish reading the rest of the e-mail. My 6-year-old son got scared and started crying as well because he didn't know what was going on with me and I couldn't stop clutching myself, rocking back and forth, and crying. It was bizarre.
"I have lost a lot of friends in my 42 years. But this news about Rob unexpectedly blew all my circuits. I can't stop thinking about him. I still cry. I'm obsessed with the case. It's weird and my husband is not liking it very much to say the least. But he's being really patient because I can't put it down."
It was also the Internet and a Hong Kong blog site that has brought some closure and put her back in touch with others who loved and honored Robert Kissel.
The site, Simon World (http:/ /simonworld.mu.nu), featured daily updates on the trial and a comments section in which Horton and others who knew Rob posted their memories and later exchanged e-mails.
One was from a college girlfriend of Kissel's, a physician named Jill Endres, who wrote: "I am a better person for having known Rob. Simon's Web site has connected me with another who is one of the few people in Rob's life who knew him as I did.
"Talking with Carol, who has exactly the same feelings as I do about who Robert Kissel was, has helped me realize several things.
"I wasn't able to do anything to help him avoid such a violent death. I couldn't help to put away the monster who has robbed us all.
"But lastly, I can help his father, brother, sister and children let the world know who this man was and what a difference he made in the lives of others."
While Endres called Nancy Kissel "a monster," Horton blasted her as a "pathological liar," partly based on her own experience as a child living in Tokyo.
"The maids live on top of you. They know everything there is to know about the family they are working for," she said.
"And you can bet that they talk amongst themselves. That's one of the main reasons why I don't believe what Nancy said about the abuse.
"Believe me, if she were being beaten up every maid and nanny in the complex would have known about it."
And while she said she hopes Nancy Kissel "gets sent to the worst prison in the worst area of China" she said she believes he would have forgiven his slayer.
"Although I am not able to see Nancy with compassion, I know Rob was an amazingly compassionate man. If he were able to speak today, even for just a second, he would probably ask all of you to be compassionate towards his wife and understand that she acted in utter sickness."
(The Standard) Murder trial like a US soap opera in HK courtroom. By Doug Crets. September 2, 2005.
For Hong Kong expatriates, the Kissel murder trial was the OJ Simpson murder trial and the Michael Jackson child abuse drama rolled into one. It was a local tragedy for one seemingly privileged family. Now that family is no more.
It was obvious to the legal observers who watched the lurid drama unfold that this wasn't anything like a typical criminal trial. Lawyers suggested that this was a wild American soap opera transplanted to Asia.
From June 6 to September 2, two well-respected attorneys - chief prosecutor Peter Chapman, and barrister Alexander King for the defense - pitted themselves against each other to prove either that the wife of a successful banker had drugged and bludgeoned him to death in cold blood, or that she had defended herself against him in a life-or-death struggle the night he died.
The defense's case was built on the premise that a woman can be so battered by years of abuse that she may commit murder. But this is an American, or a Western, defense, lawyers say. It doesn't happen here.
"You are left to run self-defense if you want to get off scot-free," said Daniel Marash, a lawyer in King's chambers and a colleague of Gary Plowman, Kissel's first defense counsel.
The Department of Justice has no information on how many wives have pleaded self defense in murder cases in Hong Kong.
But, knowing local juries to be practical, lawyers doubted the ploy would work. They reasoned that jurors would get to the point and avoid the lurid details.
"Juries here are stoic, stone-faced, pragmatic and with their feet on the ground," said well-known barrister Kevin Egan, adding that the jury just wouldn't buy the drama.
"To run this case, you would need [a jury of] cuckoos from Connecticut and neurotics from New York," he said.
But lawyers, who have nothing but good things to say about Chapman and King, had questions about the defense case in light of Kissel's testimony.
"How can she explain away the events following the death? If she had called the police, of course there would be forensic evidence," said barrister Cheng Huan.
"You cannot have a proper medical examination because all the primary evidence has been destroyed. All the contemporary evidence is gone," he said. "It comes down to credibility."
Andrew Bruce, a friend of King's, said the case was a one-off, and that one of the greatest challenges would have been to keep the jury focused on facts that would lend support to the case.
"It tests the communications skills of lawyers. For the defense counsel, the thing that looms largest over you [is] whether the accused is going to make a decent fist of it," he said. It is the hardest thing to give advice to a client because, in the end, a lawyer is paid to represent his client.
"That's what we do. We advise. We sometimes strongly advise. "
But, he added, lawyers don't lie. "You are entitled to ask questions, draw things out, but make up the story, no, thank you."
Alan Hoo, a lawyer, was sitting in Lippo Centre sipping an iced tea almost a week before the defense rested.
"There he is, the famous Sandy King!" he shouted, a grin spreading across his face, just as the defense lawyer walked smartly out of Lippo Tower I with his document case in hand.
How was the case, Hoo asked him, what would the defense do next?
King explained warmly that the defense would lay out its closing arguments.
Then he walked away.
(SCMP) Nancy Kissel jailed for life. By Polly Hui and Barclay Crawford. September 2, 2005.
Nancy Kissel was sentenced to life in prison yesterday after seven jurors unanimously found her guilty of murdering her husband after one of Hong Kong's most sensational trials.
The 41-year-old mother of three was expressionless in the dock as guards put her in handcuffs and escorted her to a prison van after Justice Michael Lunn passed sentence. Her mother, Jean McGlothlin, and friends broke down in court.
After eight hours of deliberation, the grave-looking jurors entered the courtroom about 8.30pm, to return a unanimous verdict of murder.
Sentencing Kissel, Mr Justice Lunn thanked the jurors for sitting with patience and care through the "gruesome details of the circumstances in which Robert Kissel met his death" in a trial that almost lasted three months. He exempted them from jury service for the next 15 years and granted them the maximum additional allowance of $280 a day for performing their duty.
Michigan-born Kissel was arrested five days after she drugged Robert Kissel, a senior Merrill Lynch banker, with a milkshake and bludgeoned him to death with a heavy lead ornament in their luxurious Parkview flat on November 2, 2003. She arranged for workmen to carry the victim's body, concealed in an old oriental rug, to her storeroom.
Prosecutor Peter Chapman said during the trial that Kissel killed her husband in a "cold-blooded" murder to escape a "messy, lengthy" divorce and be with Michael Del Priore, her TV-repairman lover who lived in a trailer park in Vermont.
Defence counsel Alexander King SC claimed Kissel had been subjected to five years of forceful anal sex and physical assault by a husband who abused cocaine and searched for gay porn websites. Kissel told the court her husband had threatened to kill her with a baseball bat and that she had almost no memory of the activities she embarked on to cover up her crime.
William Kissel, the victim's 77-year-old father who flew from Florida to attend the trial, said after the verdict: "Justice has been served. Am I sad? Yes, I lost my son. My son is resting in peace now. All the allegations against him have been proven false. The jury, after a three-month trial, in half a day, declared her guilty of murder.
"Rob was a wonderful father. He tried his best to be a wonderful husband and I just wished that his children could go on with their lives knowing the beauty of their father and how much he loved them.
"One doesn't stand up in court and accuse one's husband of all these horrible events because at the same time you do that, you are condemning your own children, your grandchildren and great-grandchildren."
Kissel's mother, Jean McGlothlin, who stood by her daughter every day in court, held back tears as she said to a crowd of journalists: "Mostly I would like to say thank you for the respect you have shown me and my family. Except for photographers, you have all been wonderful. It's helped me enormously ... I am trying to get my feet on the ground."
She refused to say whether an appeal would be lodged. The simmering feud between the camps of Robert and Nancy Kissel boiled over into a public slanging match as they waited for the verdict.
As William Kissel was telling reporters about what he termed the "terrible legacy" his daughter-in-law had left for her children, Nancy Kissel's adviser, former journalist Jim Laurie, said she should be allowed to see her children.
Mr Laurie, a lecturer in journalism at the University of Hong Kong, suggested the children's financial security would be threatened if Robert's brother Andrew, who is facing embezzlement charges in the US, won custody of the children.
Mr Kissel lashed out at the defence's tactic of portraying his son as a sodomist, cocaine addict and alcoholic. "You don't know him [just] because you lived in the same building," he said to Mr Laurie.
"What puts you in a position to judge?" Mr Laurie replied it was "impossible to know what happened" in the relationship.
Mr Kissel shot back: "Are you going to write a book now ... and say Nancy is innocent?"
The judge also ordered transcripts and statements on the withholding of the baseball bat by the defence for 18 months to be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Mr Justice Lunn said in his summing up yesterday morning that the court had heard nothing about the defence keeping the baseball bat - allegedly used by the deceased to beat his wife - until July 21. He said that Simon Clark, the defence solicitor who was in court throughout the trial, had been keeping the bat since finding it in the bedroom of Kissel's flat in November 9, 2003.
"What became of the baseball bat during the period between November 9, 2003, and July 21, 2005? We knew nothing about it at all."
(SCMP) The 'perfect marriage' that ended in a Parkview bloodbath. By Polly Hui. September 2, 2005.
Outsiders said Robert and Nancy Kissel had the best marriage in the universe. The husband was a high-flying senior investment banker at Merrill Lynch whose personal estate is worth US$18 million. The wife, an attractive, artistic, and devoted mother of three, had everything that an expat woman could dream of. They lived in a luxurious Parkview apartment and sped about town in a Mercedes and a Porsche. They appeared in public with big smiles, dining with important people such as former US president George Bush.
But the illusion of the beautiful life was shattered on November 2, 2003. On that fateful day, Nancy Kissel killed her husband by hammering his head repeatedly with a heavy lead ornament. The blows were of such force that parts of his skull were pushed into the cerebral cortex and white matter inside the brain. The two figurines sitting atop the 3.7kg ornament flew off during the attack, splattering blood all over the bedroom.
When the 41-year-old stepped into the High Court in late May, her appearance was almost unrecognisable from that two years ago in the days before the killing. The shine in her eyes was gone, blonde hair turned dark brown, colourful outfits had become plain black, her trademark sunglasses replaced by studious, oval, wire-rimmed glasses. She had lost so much weight that she walked like a shadow floating in court.
Her husband, found by police in a rolled-up rug in her Parkview storeroom five days after the killing, was buried in a cemetery in the US state of New Jersey. Their children, in the temporary custody of the estranged wife of her brother-in-law in Greenwich, Connecticut, had not seen or spoken to her since the murder.
Yesterday, after a sensational three-month trial involving more than 500 exhibits and over 100 witnesses, Kissel was found guilty of what prosecutor Peter Chapman called the "cold-blooded" murder of her husband.
When she testified in early August, Kissel gripped the city as she admitted for the first time that she had killed her husband. "Do you accept that you killed Robert Kissel," asked Mr Chapman to open his cross-examination. "Yes," Kissel replied. When the prosecutor accused her of trying to conjure a picture of the victim as an abusive husband, she broke down. "I still love him. Things happened. I stayed with him. I loved him, and I am not sitting here to paint a bad picture about him, because he's my husband," she said.
But the story of a love turned sour did not end there. It was to be followed with allegations of spousal abuse, cocaine addiction, sodomy, extramarital affairs and greed.
Life had seemed to go on as usual for Nancy Kissel on Sunday, November 2, 2003. About 9am, she drove her Mercedes to the Sunday morning service at the United Jewish Congregation on Robinson Road, Mid-Levels. When she was nearing the Parkview taxi rank, she saw Andrew Tanzer and his seven-year-old daughter, Leah, carrying a schoolbag with the logo of the congregation's Sunday school. Kissel offered the pair a ride.
At the congregation, Kissel met her husband, who had taken their three children to the service in his Porsche. She introduced him to their newly met neighbours. Leah, a sociable girl, recognised Kissel's second child, June, was also from Parkview. She urged her father to arrange a play date for her and June in the afternoon.
Shortly before 11am, Kissel left the congregation and drove her eldest child, Elaine, to her friend's birthday junk party. She dropped her daughter at Aberdeen Marina Club and drove back home. Meanwhile, her husband was having lunch at the congregation with June and the youngest child, Reis.
But under the surface of normalcy was a sea of turbulence. By that time, Robert Kissel had lost hope of saving the marriage after realising that his wife remained in frequent contact with Michael Del Priore, with whom she had begun a sexual relationship during her stay with her children in Vermont to escape Sars that summer. He had told close colleague David Noh that he would discuss getting a divorce with his wife that afternoon. Nancy must have discovered his intention because a "stupid" lawyer of his had earlier sent a list of divorce lawyers to the family e-mail account, not his Merrill Lynch one, he told him.
By that time, Kissel had already acquired three hypnotic drugs - Rohypnol, Lorivan and Stilnox - and an anti-depressant - amitriptyline - in a seven-day "shopping spree" for drugs in late October. She had told a doctor and a psychiatrist that she had serious sleeping problems, was assaulted by her husband, and had parents with a history of depression, alcoholism, and violence. The same drugs, plus an additional hypnotic, Axotal, were found in Robert Kissel's stomach and liver contents during an autopsy.
About 2.30pm, the banker returned home with the two children. Tanzer took Leah to see June in the Kissel's flat in Tower 17 at 2.45. The neighbour said it was a bit odd that Kissel never came out to greet him as the two men were talking in the living room. When he was about to leave, Leah and June came out of the kitchen with two identical glasses of pink milkshake that the prosecution argued Kissel had laced with a cocktail of sedatives for their fathers.
Mr Tanzer said he had "never drunk anything like that" and asked Kissel what it was when she popped her head out of the kitchen. "It's a secret recipe," she told him. He returned home at 4pm, shocking his wife by passing out on the couch and, bizarrely, treating himself to three tubs of ice cream at dinner. The next morning, he had almost no recollection of the evening.
Meanwhile, Kissel's husband took his son to the playroom downstairs about 5pm, where he talked for 10 minutes on the phone with David Noh. Noh said the deceased sounded tired, slurry and mellow. Robert was "on a different tangent", talking about export markets when he was asking him about real estate prices, he recalled.
Twenty minutes later, Kissel sent their maid Maximina Macaraeg to tell Robert to return to the flat. The helper met him in the car park as he was on his way home and took his son from him.
That was the last time Robert Kissel was seen alive. The next time his son saw him would be when three days later his body was carried out of the flat by four Parkview workmen in an old, stinking rug.
Back in January 2003, a month after Kissel had walked out on her husband after a fight on a skiing vacation in Whistler, Vancouver, according to her testimony, he installed Eblaster spyware on his wife's laptop and a home computer to monitor her activity. In June, he hired two private investigators to find out if his wife was cheating on him in Vermont.
He would never have imagined that the steps he had taken to confirm his suspicions would one day become crucial evidence for the police and prosecutors to retrace the steps leading to his demise. It was from the spyware reports that the court learned of the diary entries recording Kissel's frustration with her deteriorating marriage and her website searches for the drugs used to dull her husband's senses on the fateful day.
The banker would certainly have had no idea that the sick joke of his confidante, Bryna O'Shea, who said: "If Nancy is going to kill you, put me in your will," would be an omen.
With the effort of a large number of experts in DNA typing, bloodstain pattern analysts, pathologists, police officers, photographers and forensic scientists, the prosecution established that Robert Kissel was walking to his death when he returned to his flat from the car park.
Prosecutors said that his wife silently observed him as he got changed into his sleeping clothes and collapsed at the foot of their bed under the influence of the sedatives in the milkshake. They said she then struck the right side of his head using the lead ornament with what Mr Chapman called "the murderous intention to kill", until the metal base was deformed and the two figurines detached. Rendered defenceless by the drugs, the deceased suffered 10 lacerations to his head, including five fractures, each potentially fatal.
In the prosecution's theory, Michael Del Priore featured largely in the case. Living as he did on a Vermont trailer park, he saw Kissel as a "gold mine", Mr Chapman suggested. The lover could have given "tacit encouragement" to the killing, he said, since phone bill records indicated long-distance phone conversations between the two, including 106 calls in October 2003, and many more in the days following the killing. Some of the calls lasted for hours. Kissel remained expressionless throughout the prosecution case, at times jotting notes in the dock for her lawyers. On the day when a variety of stomach-churning, bloody exhibits - including pillows and bedcovers soaked with the victim's blood - were paraded in court, she lowered her gaze to the floor.
Outside the courtroom, Kissel, often sporting a friendly smile, chatted with expatriates and hugged supporters. In the defence team's makeshift office in court, she sometimes spoke with dramatic gestures, as if she was directing the counsels. She also chatted with guards in the dock using the Cantonese she had mastered during the year she spent in the custody ward of Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre after she was arrested.
"I learnt it from the people in Siu Lam. There was nobody speaking English there. I had to survive. I also taught them English," she told the South China Morning Post.
Her mother, Jean, had been her backbone from the start of the trial, walking with her hand in hand out of the court to brave the crowd of journalists. After the judge revoked Kissel's bail when she finished her testimony early last month, guards exercised their discretion to allow the mother to spend short moments with her daughter on several occasions.
That was not all that went on away from the gaze of jurors. Defence counsel Alexander King SC asked the judge on July 20 to recall the Kissels' maid Maximina Macaraeg, police officers and forensic scientists to testify about a baseball bat. He revealed that his instructing solicitor, Simon Clark, had found the bat in the Kissels' bedroom on November 9, 2003, a day after the police relinquished the crime scene. Mr Clark had since kept the bat in his office, he said.
Mr Chapman, arguing against the application, raised the issue of professional conduct to the judge. He questioned the defence motive in writing a letter to the prosecution in January this year asking if the police had seized a baseball bat in the master bedroom - at a time when the bat was already "sitting safely" in Mr Clark's office. But the defence claimed that it was asking about another baseball bat in the letter.
Mr Justice Lunn said he found it "astonishing" that the bat was not presented to court until then, but granted the recall of witnesses to ensure a fair trial for the defendant, saying the bat could be central to the defence case. Last night he announced that he had informed the Director of Public Prosecutions of his concerns over the matter.
Nancy Kissel would later tell the court, in tears, that it was the bat her husband had used to beat her on the evening of November 2, 2003. She recalled being in the kitchen as her husband called to her. She went out and saw him leaning on a baseball bat at the doorway of their bedroom. "I am filing for divorce and I am taking the kids. It's a done deal," her husband told her. Tapping the bat in his hand, he said it was to protect himself in case she got "mad". She went back to the dining room and grabbed the lead statue, her heirloom, in a fright.
She trembled as she told the court how her husband said to her: "I will f***ing kill you, you bitch". 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," she said. 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.
"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 after trembling for almost a minute, she said: "I can't remember."
The defence case turned more intriguing as its computer forensic experts displayed in court alleged homosexual and gay porn website searches by the deceased. In their case, Robert Kissel was a "controlling" and "demanding" man who abused not only his wife, but cocaine, painkillers, alcohol and his children. Above all, he was uncertain about his sexual identity, looking for male and female prostitutes everywhere he travelled and forcing his wife into performing oral and anal sex day after day over a five-year period.
Her "dissociative amnesia" was used to explain away the series of bizarre "cover-up" she undertook after the murder.
Somehow, she managed to get her husband's body into a sleeping bag and roll it neatly in a large, old rug stuffed with towels and plastic bags.
She called her father in Chicago, saying that she had been beaten up badly by her husband. She gave her friends, her father, and a doctor four to five versions of the events of November 2.
She arranged for the delivery of cardboard boxes, some of which she used to pack away the bloody contents of the bedroom. She hired four Parkview workmen to transport the stinking rug to a storeroom. On November 6, she reported to the police an assault by her husband.
Evidence showed that she had even called her husband's mobile phone twice shortly after the killing. Meanwhile, she had not stopped talking to Del Priore until her arrest in the early hours of November 7. In court, she said she had never seen the lover again, but he was the only one in her life to whom she could open her heart.
Jurors, like the prosecution, found her web of lies too hard to believe. After more than eight hours of deliberation, they found her guilty of murder. The sentence was automatic - life in prison.
"The only person whom Nancy Kissel could not deceive is Robert Kissel. He found out, and he is dead," said Mr Chapman.
(SCMP) The popular guy surrounded by girls who met his match on a Club Med cruise. By Dennis Eng. September 2, 2005.
Robert Kissel dropped a chilling hint to his closest childhood friend about five months before he died that his outwardly perfect marriage was in trouble.
After tracking down Daniel Williams through the internet, Kissel sent him several happy family pictures. Wife Nancy was in none of them, although Mr Williams had been at their wedding.
"Rob sent pictures of himself on the beach, one of his three kids, as well as one of his daughter on the beach," Mr Williams said. "I suspect he may have known that his marriage was in trouble then as Nancy was in none of the pictures."
Friends like Mr Williams and Kissel's first girlfriend, Carol Japngie, have painted a picture of an attractive man who liked girls, displayed leadership qualities and had a tendency to be controlling. He had tried drugs but hated them, to the extent he would react angrily if he saw anyone using them.
They also told of a "fun" couple who met on a Club Med singles cruise to the Caribbean in 1987 and then started to raise a family in New York while enjoying an active social life with friends, giving no hint of the tragedy that was to follow. Nancy was remembered before their marriage as - like many of her friends - a "sexually social, flirtatious" young woman who wore her naturally brown hair in a blonde bob.
As the nightmarish sequence of events unfolded in court, Ms Japngie recalled her own relationship with Robert Kissel, saying: "I remember saying to my mum afterwards that if I had married him, he wouldn't be dead now."
Years before, Robert Kissel had made it very clear to her that they would never have married, however. Even after their romance blossomed into a sexual one on the ski slopes of Vermont, he told her: "We can't be serious because you aren't Jewish," which she understood.
They met as sophomores at Pascack Hills High School in New Jersey. Her family had just moved from California and it was not long before she caught the attention of one of the most popular boys in school.
"Robbie was a popular boy and all the girls in our class were attracted to him. I was new and didn't know anyone in the school and Rob and I became best friends," Ms Japngie said. So much so that, six months later at Christmas, she was invited to join him on one of his family's ski trips to Vermont. Robert asked her to be his girlfriend.
"I had a great vacation with his family skiing in Vermont. From the first time we met, his sister Jane and I became close like sisters," she said.
They had sex on the ski trip, although it was not planned. She said she got the idea after finding a condom among suitcases belonging to Robert's father. "I initiated it and it was spontaneous. I think the whole day was leading up to that," Ms Japngie said. "There was more a sense of trust that overwhelmed the apprehension. I guess there was also the thrill of getting caught."
During their two-year relationship, she revealed that Robert didn't mind smoking marijuana, although it would make him pass out.
Cocaine was another story. "We both tried coke once. He said, 'this is the devil'. He could not swallow and my throat choked up," Ms Japngie said. She doesn't recall exactly when or where it happened, but they were both just about 17 and had crashed a party of 19- and 20-year-olds.
They played darts and pool before someone in the room cut 15 to 20 lines of cocaine on a mirror and passed it from person to person. By the time it reached them, there were only two or three lines left.
"Some guy handed the coke to us. I remember he was a big black guy and quite intimidating. Rob said no, and I was poking him, urging him to just go and leave," she said.
Fearful of being assaulted or exposed as gatecrashers, he snorted a line of cocaine. She did the same. "About 10 or 15 minutes later, we were freaking out. Our throats closed up. We looked at each other and we turned white. Our hearts were racing," Ms Japngie said.
When someone broke out lines of cocaine as they drove to the beach after their high school prom in 1981, Robert threw a fit, Ms Japngie recalled. "He stopped the car, got out and wanted to go home by bus or train. He was so pissed off. I spent two or three hours fighting with him, trying to coax him into hanging out. If ever anyone mentioned drugs, he was out of there," she said.
She rejected persistent rumours that Kissel had been expelled from Pascack because of drugs.
She said his parents believed he could do better academically elsewhere and his father's ink toner business had taken off, making private school possible. He spent his senior year at the Saddle River Country Day School in New Jersey.
Mr Williams agreed his best friend had not been focused on his studies at Pascack. "He was passing his grades but his parents thought he could do better," he said. The two had known each other since they were two years old, growing up in the suburbs of Woodcliff Lake in New Jersey, but had lost touch in the 1990s. Kissel tracked down Mr Williams using www.classmates.com.
The Kissel wedding in 1989 was the last time Mr Williams saw his friend. His first meeting with Nancy Kissel did not leave much of an impression. "She did not have much to say to me," he said.
Mr Williams described Robert Kissel as a "leader type" who set up a hockey team on his street called the Avon Supersonics. At the Woodcliff middle school, he was the running back and defensive guard on the football team, even though he had been diagnosed with a weak kidney and had to wear a protective pad.
"I thought he was shy around girls," Mr Williams said. Be that as it may, Robert had a string of girlfriends after he broke up with Ms Japngie. First he dated his ex-girlfriend's best friend, Kelly Schwake, although only for a month. She was followed by Nancy Landau and then Jill Canin, a medical student he went out with during his first two years at the University of Rochester.
Nancy Keeshin did not enter his life until around September 1987. He had just got a master's degree at New York University.
Nancy had dropped out of the Parsons School of Design after two years. At that time, she had already worked as the floor manager of the Caliente Cab Company, a Mexican restaurant on Waverly Place in New York City, and had switched to the El Rio Grande on 38th Street. Two of her colleagues and friends were waitress Elizabeth Cowey and bartender Bryna O'Shea. "We would often go out and bar hop," Ms Cowey said. "Bryna and Nancy shopped together. I wasn't really a shopper."
In 1989, the Kissels tied the knot at the East River Yacht Club in New York. Ms O'Shea and her husband moved to San Francisco the following year and Ms Cowey married John LaCause in March 1994.
During their New York years, the young Kissel and LaCause families would spend time together. The husbands would sometimes go out to play darts while the mothers stayed with the children.
Mr LaCause said he was aware of arguments early on in the Kissel relationship, especially about money and Nancy's spending habits. However, he believes that the tension between the couple escalated after Mr Kissel extended an initial two-year posting in Hong Kong to what would end up being about six years. "He was only supposed to be in Hong Kong for two years and I know in Nancy's mind, she was only thinking two years," he said. "By the third year, I thought there was trouble in paradise."
"We liked Rob and we had a really fun time together. Rob was a bit more aggressive and more controlling. I never saw that in Nancy," said Mrs LaCause, who was communicating with Nancy two days after her husband's death without knowing what had happened. The last time she saw Nancy was in the summer of 2001, in New York City.
Two years later, Nancy and her children and dog, Daisy, went to Vermont to escape the Sars outbreak in Hong Kong. They returned home in September or October but could not take Daisy with them because of immunisation rules.
Mrs LaCause cared for Daisy until November 3, 2003, when the dog was flown back to Hong Kong.
In an e-mail to Mrs LaCause dated November 4, 2003, Nancy wrote: "Daisy will be here by the time the girls get home from school ... [elder daughter] Elaine is the only one who knows!" Nancy also sent T-shirts for the two LaCause children with their names written in Chinese characters as a thank-you.
Mrs LaCause was unaware that Robert Kissel had been killed until Ms O'Shea phoned her. "I didn't call Nancy at the time and I will probably regret that for the rest of my life. I must have been in shock. I wish I had because I was a friend to her," Mrs LaCause said.
They eventually spoke but the conversation was tearful and sad.
"She told me that I don't know how bad it is. She was talking about Rob and how horrible money is and what it does to people. And also about anal sex. She was calling from her lawyer's office so she was not totally forthcoming. She also talked about drinking whisky and cocaine a lot," Mrs LaCause said.
Mrs LaCause added: "If I had a husband who beat me, raped me and sodomised me, I would kill him too."
(SCMP) Ladies' man who has already moved on. By Leela de Kretser and Barclay Crawford. September 2, 2005.
This is Michael Del Priore, the muscular TV repairman and notorious ladies' man who Nancy Kissel fell for when she fled the Sars outbreak with her three children for their Vermont holiday home.
The 41-year-old with piercing eyes is known as a man with a colourful past. He left his first wife - his high school sweetheart and mother to two of his children - for an 18-year-old he met at church and fled to Birmingham, Alabama, with her in 1993.
But the following year he began living with a teenager from Little Rock, Arkansas. Mr Del Priore married her in 1997 and they had a daughter, now four.
Mr Del Priore's divorce came through in January 2003, just before he started his affair with Kissel.
The trauma of Kissel's arrest no longer seems to bother him, as he now lives with a blonde woman called Tracey who drives a red Ford GT sports car. She moved into Mr Del Priore's tiny home in Hinsdale, Vermont, in January.
Mr Del Priore's brother Lance does not understand why his older brother has not been questioned by police, given his involvement with Kissel.
Lance was told about Robert Kissel's death by Kissel's brother Andrew just hours after the killing. He had been devastated when he received the call, as the family had been friends with the Kissels. "Andrew said: 'My brother's dead - Nancy killed him'."
Lance, who runs a television and audio company, was furious when he learned of the affair two months before the murder, and fired Michael. He said he had made the fatal mistake of introducing his philandering brother to Nancy. Lance had met the Kissels earlier that year through Andrew Kissel, after he was asked to do some work at the family's home in Stratton.
"I sent Michael up there to do some work. I had absolutely no knowledge that there was anything going on whatsoever," he said. "You can only accept so many things - brother or not - there are only so many things he can do like this."
An investigation by the South China Morning Post revealed Michael Del Priore is behind on his child support to both wives and had even taken his four-year-old to the Kissels' holiday home during one rendezvous with Nancy.
"Basically, I rang my brother that night [after Andrew Kissel told me of the death of his brother]," Lance said. "I knew he wasn't in Hong Kong, but I had the full belief that he knew full well the situation.
"He said straight away: 'All that I can tell you is Robert beat the hell out of Nancy'. I said: 'You must have had something to do with this'. It's been the only conversation that I've had with him."
Michael Del Priore has refused to answer questions from the South China Morning Post about how much he knew about the murder.
Lance said the first he knew of the couple's affair was when Michael confessed during a Bible study group about two months before the murder. Lance said he felt guilty that he didn't speak to Robert Kissel about the affair but his brother had promised him the affair was going to end.
He had "no idea" what Nancy would have seen in his brother. "He thinks he is quite the ladies' man, I guess."
(SCMP) Damning evidence: the key witnesses in the trial. By Barclay Crawford and Kerri-Ann O'Sullivan. September 2, 2005.
Nancy Kissel was suffering "total body pain" when doctor Annabelle Dytham examined her in Wan Chai on November 4 last year. Her movement was restricted and injuries included swollen fingers, puncture wounds to the right hand, pain in the ribs, chest and shoulders and bruises on her legs.
Dr Dytham told the jury none of the injuries suggested serious blows from a weapon such as a baseball bat. But later she said Kissel may not have been exaggerating her pain from the alleged assault by her husband, contradicting her earlier testimony. This was after the defence told her tests suggested Kissel had musculo-skeletal injuries. "I am not used to dealing with psychosomatic pain - patients who have pain where there is no actual physical injury," Dr Dytham said.
She was "a little surprised" when she was shown closed-circuit television stills showing Kissel leaving the apartment and returning home with a suitcase, rug and shopping bags on November 3.
"However, if Nancy had come to me to report injuries on November 4, I could understand possible exaggeration of the pain, given that she had been assaulted and she might want to make a court case out of it.
"At no time did I think she was dangerous to herself or anyone else," Dr Dytham said.
Scott Ligertwood, of children's entertainment duo Scotty and Lulu, said his friend Nancy Kissel could be relied upon to "get things done".
He had been to dinner at her house two weeks before Robert Kissel was murdered.
Ligertwood found it "unusual" when Nancy Kissel did not show up to a meeting at the outdoor cafe at the Repulse Bay Arcade on October 30, 2003, especially when she did not even call.
Kissel, vice-president of the school's parent-teacher board, was supposed to be there to arrange for the duo to appear at Hong Kong International School's annual fair.
Later in the day she sent a message saying she had mixed up the dates and asking for a meeting on November 4.
Ligertwood said she was different from most parents.
"Whether it was entertainment or refreshment, the job was done to a high standard," he said.
But on November 3 came an e-mail message cancelling the meeting the next day: "My husband is not well. I need to take care of some things ... sorry, I will be in touch soon." He never heard from her again.
New York private eye
Frank Shea started the Alpha Group, a New York private investigation agency, shortly after leaving the New York Police Department.
Robert Kissel probably went to the service because one of its specialties is matrimonial surveillance. Kissel paid US$24,000 for an 11-day service and private detective Rocco Gatta was sent to spy on the family's holiday home in Stratton, Vermont, during June and July 2003, discovering Nancy's relationship with Michael Del Priore.
After returning to Hong Kong from a New York trip for back surgery on August 23, 2003, Kissel told Mr Shea his wife was poisoning his whisky. "The Scotch didn't taste normal to him and the effects of the Scotch were quite remarkable. It made him woozy and disoriented." Mr Shea feared Kissel's life was in danger and advised him to collect a sample of the whisky, have his blood or urine tested and call the police. "From the first day he indicated to me his wife was going to kill him - he just couldn't believe that it was going to happen," he said.
But when Mr Shea visited Hong Kong and met Robert Kissel on September 1, 2003, Kissel said he "felt guilty about his suspicions". But he admitted his wife was still in contact with Mr Del Priore.
Journalist Andrew Tanzer's bizarre experience hours before Nancy killed her husband saw the trial dubbed the "milkshake murder" in headlines across the planet.
The former writer with Forbes magazine is a highly respected journalist in the region, having interviewed many of Asia's top business leaders.
Tanzer met the Kissels earlier in the day for the first time when Nancy drove them to the United Jewish Congregation in Mid-Levels from Parkview for Sunday school.
After the service, Tanzer arranged for his daughter to go to the Kissels' apartment to play with their daughter June. After about an hour or so, he asked Nancy Kissel for a glass of water. But instead of water, he was presented with a "strange milkshake".
"Fairly heavy, sweet, thickened ... with banana taste, crushed cookies, reddish, which I guess was from some strawberries or flavouring," he told the court. "I have never drunk something like this before." Nancy called the drink her "special recipe".
When he got home at about 4pm, Tanzer blacked out, rising only at 7pm to scoff icecream. His wife Kazuko Ouchi said he ate three tubs of ice cream in a "bizarre way ... like a baby ... with ice cream dripping all over the place".
(SCMP) Anatomy of a family tragedy. September 2, 2005.
November 2, 2003 Investment banker Robert Kissel is last seen alive at his prestigious Parkview apartment by neighbour Andrew Tanzer
November 6 Colleague David Noh files a missing persons report with police, who discover Robert Kissel's body in a storeroom at Parkview. Nancy Kissel denies renting the storeroom
November 7 A pathologist confirms the body was found wrapped in a rug. Nancy Kissel sees a doctor at Ruttonjee Hospital
November 8 The South China Morning Post reveals Robert Kissel has been bludgeoned to death. Nancy Kissel is charged with murder
November 14 Kissel is absent from court for a second time as she is still in hospital. The judge orders her children's passports to be held by the United States consulate
February 6, 2005 Sunday Morning Post exclusive: Kissel has been on bail since a private hearing in November 2004
June 3 Kissel's murder trial is set to run for eight weeks
June 7 The trial opens to a packed public gallery. Government prosecutor Peter Chapman SC tells the jury Kissel drugged her husband with sedatives before repeatedly striking his head with a heavy metal ornament
June 8 Mr Tanzer reveals he passed out after drinking Nancy Kissel's "special" milkshake
June 10 Kissel's lover, Michael Del Priore, is exposed by a private investigator, Rocco Gatta
June 22 Mr Noh provides an insider's account of a marriage on the rocks
July 21 It comes to light that Robert Kissel had searched websites on gay pornography and sex services in Taiwan shortly before he went on a three-day trip there
August 1 Kissel claims she had to endure night after night of sexual and physical assault as cocaine, whisky, power and money changed her husband
August 2 Kissel says she tried to commit suicide and took up with television repairman Michael Del Priore as an escape
August 4 Prosecutor Peter Chapman begins his cross-examination of Kissel in the Court of First Instance, asking her: "Do you accept that you killed Robert Kissel?" She replies: "Yes"
August 8 Kissel screams out in court: "I still love my husband"
August 22 After three weeks, the defence rests its case
August 26 The prosecution says Kissel killed her husband to be with her lover and avoid a messy divorce after he told her he was going to begin proceedings
Selected translations from Chinese-language media:
(Bloomberg) Nancy Kissel May Appeal Against Murder Conviction in Hong Kong. By Clare Cheung. September 2, 2005.
Nancy Kissel, sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of murdering her Merrill Lynch & Co. investment banker husband, may appeal the verdict, her Hong Kong lawyer said.
"There is an appeal under discussion,'' Alexander King said today, outside the city's High Court.
Kissel killed her 40-year-old millionaire husband and hid his body in a roll of carpet in a storeroom in their luxury apartment block. A jury found her guilty of murder after a 66-day hearing that captivated Hong Kong's media with tales of drug taking, violent sex and affairs.
The defense argued the 41-year-old American was a battered wife, regularly beaten and sexually assaulted by her cocaine- addicted spouse. The prosecution said she planned the killing -- clubbing Robert Kissel to death with a metal ornament after sedating him -- because he demanded a divorce and custody of the couple's three children over her affair with a T.V. repairman.
"People were traumatized by the case,'' said Cathy Tsang- Feign, a Hong Kong psychologist whose practice focuses on expatriates. "People came in to talk about it. It magnified the problems that exist in expatriate households.'''
The high-profile case captivated the media in the Chinese city of 6.9 million people, where 29,900 U.S. citizens make up a sizable portion of the wealthy expatriate community. The English- language South China Morning Post and the tabloid Standard both devoted four pages to the case today, including photographs of the couple with former President George Bush.
Judge Michael Lunn today ruled against a prosecution bid to have some of its costs for the trial paid for by the defense.
Pending an appeal, Kissel will be interned in Tai Lam Institute for Women, one of five women's prisons in Hong Kong, where she will be one of about 230 inmates in the system who aren't citizens of Hong Kong or China, according to Hong Kong's Correctional Services Department.
Without an appeal Kissel's life term would be reviewed in five years, and thereafter every two years, by a government board that can recommend to the city's chief executive that her sentence be commuted to a fixed term, and she can then seek early release after serving two-thirds of that term, according to Hong Kong's Security Bureau.
Alternatively, after completing any appeal, Kissel could seek a transfer to a federal prison in the U.S., where she would be eligible for parole after a decade behind bars, according to information from the U.S. Consulate in Hong Kong and the U.S. Department of Justice Web site.
Life in a Hong Kong prison -- where she will be expected to work in one of 14 jobs such as carpentry or printing -- will be very different to that in Hong Kong Parkview, a hilltop luxury apartment complex near one of the city's country parks.
Living in Parkview, where rents start at more than $7,000 a month, Kissel had her own photography business and a string of volunteer activities, including work for Hong Kong International School, the $15,000-a-year school two of the couple's three children attended.
That lifestyle was funded by Robert Kissel's investment banking career. Educated at the University of Rochester's College of Engineering and New York University, he worked for Lazard Freres & Co. from 1992 to 1997, before moving to Hong Kong with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in 1998, heading its distressed asset business in the wake of the Asian crisis. He moved to Merrill Lynch in 2000.
His death, discovered after a colleague filed a missing person's report, stunned the city's investment banking community and highlighted issues faced by many of the city's high-flying residents.
"The expatriate lifestyle doesn't leave much time for people to sit down and discuss problems,'' said Tsang-Feign. "Things can get out of hand.''
Tsang-Feign is the author of "Living Abroad: How to Keep Your Family, Career and Life Together.''
Nancy Kissel's journey to a Hong Kong prison began in early 2003, when she, her two daughters and her son left Hong Kong to escape an epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome. Vacationing with her children at the couple's holiday home in Vermont, she began an affair with television repairman Michael del Priore, who lived in a nearby trailer park.
In court, Kissel admitted the affair and said she remained in contact with del Priore on her return to Hong Kong, both before and after the murder.
On the stand, she painted a portrait of her husband as a cocaine-addicted tyrant who hit her and forced her to have anal sex. The defense also produced evidence that gay pornography had been accessed on computers to which Robert Kissel had access.
In the trial's biggest revelation, Kissel who pleaded not guilty, admitted to the court she killed her husband but said it was self defense.
The prosecution pointed to the value of Robert Kissel's $18 million estate, made up of stocks, life insurance polices, cash and real estate, according to Jane Clayton, Robert Kissel's younger sister, who gave evidence in June as a prosecution witness. Nancy Kissel was the beneficiary of Robert Kissel's will and life insurance policies, prosecution evidence showed.
Prosecutor Peter Chapman said Kissel searched the Internet for "overdose on sleeping pills'' in late August 2003 and stocked up on drugs a week before she allegedly laced a milkshake with sedatives on Nov. 2, 2003, the day of the murder.
She had one of her daughters deliver the milkshake to her husband, who had for two months suspected her of trying to poison him, the prosecutor said. Four of the six drugs found in Robert Kissel's stomach contents after he died were prescribed to Nancy Kissel by two doctors, the prosecutor said.
Kissel has 28 days in which to appeal the verdict.
"It's like a 1930s American film noir,'' said Tim Hamlett, associate professor of journalism at the Hong Kong Baptist University. "The wealthy banker, the bored wife having an affair with the repairman.''
(Reuters) HK banker murder shows dark side of expat life. By Brian Kelleher. September 2, 2005.
To the outsider, it looks too good to be true: $1 million paychecks, luxury cars and upscale apartments staffed with maids and cooks. But this high-flying expatriate lifestyle -- enjoyed by select foreign bankers and executives from Seoul to Bangkok -- often requires serious sacrifice for the men and women who flock to Asia's financial centres.
A chilling manifestation of the cracks that form during life abroad was the 2003 murder of top Merrill Lynch banker Robert Kissel, who had accumulated an estate worth $18 million and lived with his family in a Hong Kong luxury flat.
On Thursday, a Hong Kong jury sentenced his wife Nancy Kissel to life in prison for the American banker's murder, following a trial that riveted the territory with tales of rough sex, marital violence and adultery.
His murder is an extreme example of how the high-living lifestyles of some foreign professionals may mask deep problems underneath the surface.
Although many expat marriages remain happy, the stress of an 80-hour work week for some executives punctuated by spur-of-the-moment business trips to Tokyo, Shanghai or New York can place an enormous strain on family life. "The single most important issue is that many expat families don't have family or friends in Hong Kong," said Dominic Lee, a professor of psychiatry at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. "This is particularly depressing for the wife."
Having children can also lead to some hardships such that many expat couples choose to go back home for the birth to have closer support from grandparents and siblings.
"The post-natal depression story also highlights the difficulties families face," said Lee, noting that a busy executive may be called back to work soon after the birth.
During her testimony, Nancy Kissel claimed that her husband changed following their move to Hong Kong in 1998, becoming abusive and increasing his alcohol consumption.
William Kissel, Robert's 77-year-old father, said of expat wives like his daughter-in-law: "They feel like just an appendage."
While the jury disagreed with her argument that Robert's increasingly violent behaviour led her to kill him in self-defence, there is no doubt that a move overseas is a shock to the system.
"What person in their right mind would leave their Connecticut suburb with their country club membership for Japan?" said one executive in Tokyo. "They're looking to advance in their careers, they're risk takers.
"The long hours, the travel, it definitely takes a toll on the family," he said.
In Hong Kong, wives often develop a social circle by going to things like "Starbucks parties", which is what Lee calls daily meetings with parents and babies at coffee shops in the territory's flashy shopping malls.
New communications technology can also strengthen home ties.
"One thing I've found that is very important is that they now have broadband -- they can talk to their family over the Internet," said Lee, referring to high-speed Internet connections that can also enable cheap telephony and video conferencing.
Many overseas assignments last only a few years, but experts and expats alike warn against falling into a trap of not making an effort to acclimate to the local community.
"There are few outlets for expat families to relax ... if you're not creative about it, you just find yourself stuck," the Tokyo executive said.
(Los Angeles Times) Hong Kong Murder Trial Ends. By Ching-ching Ni. September 2, 2005.
They seemed like an American family living a picture-perfect expatriate life in Hong Kong. He was a wealthy banker. She was an attractive homemaker, raising their three children in a luxury apartment with two maids.
But two years ago, the decomposing body of Robert Kissel was found wrapped in a carpet in a rented storage room. On Thursday, a jury in Hong Kong convicted his wife, Nancy Kissel, of drugging her husband with a strawberry milkshake laced with sedatives, then bludgeoning him to death.
The "milkshake murder" trial has riveted the former British colony since testimony began in spring. Tales of rough sex, marital infidelity, drugs, violence and coverup made the case seem like an offshore episode of the hit American TV show "Desperate Housewives."
The Kissels were much like fictional housewife and husband Bree and Rex Van De Kamp. They came to the glamorous global financial hub in 1997, when he was transferred there by brokerage firm Merrill Lynch & Co. She tended the children and volunteered at the international school.
Nancy Kissel's lawyer, however, portrayed the 41-year-old brunet as a victim of spousal abuse who killed her husband in self-defense.
Kissel, who testified in her own behalf, told the jury that her husband had brandished a baseball bat and threatened to kill her during a bedroom quarrel. She said she grabbed a heavy metal statue and hit him five times in the head.
The defense portrayed Robert Kissel as a stressed-out workaholic who snorted cocaine, pressured his wife to perform sodomy and encouraged her to get a breast enlargement. It also accused the executive of going online to check out gay sex services before a business trip.
Prosecutors denied those charges and argued that Nancy Kissel killed her husband to cash in on his $18-million will and take up with a television-repairman she had had an affair with in Vermont.
Before he died on Nov. 2, 2003, Robert Kissel, 40, a New York native, had told his wife that he was filing for divorce and wanted custody of their three children, ages 5, 8 and 10, according to her testimony.
He was angry over her affair with the repairman, whom she met when she and her children fled to a vacation home in Vermont to escape the Asian SARS epidemic in the summer of 2003, according to her testimony.
A maid testified that the man, Michael Del Priore, who lived in a trailer park, visited the home while the children were asleep. Prosecutors introduced explicit love letters detailing the affair.
Robert Kissel put spyware on his wife's computer and discovered her perusal of Internet sites about lethal drugs, according to testimony from a friend of the victim. He also told the friend that he suspected his wife might be trying to poison him.
The defense claimed that Nancy Kissel had been researching drugs because she was contemplating suicide over a miserable marriage.
Kissel acknowledged serving her husband a tall pink milkshake, but denied spiking it, and said she couldn't remember what happened after she fatally struck him. The prosecution claimed that Robert Kissel probably was unconscious when he was struck. Autopsy reports found several types of tranquilizers in his body.
The day after her husband's death, Nancy Kissel went on a shopping spree, buying a new carpet, bed covers and cushions, according to testimony.
Then she called maintenance staff to drag away the rolled-up carpet, sealed with tape and plastic, that contained her husband's body. When asked by the workers why it was so bulky, she told them it was stuffed with old pillows and blankets. After taking the rug to the storeroom, one worker reported to her that the bundle reeked like salted fish; she ignored him and closed the door, according to testimony.
A colleague of Robert Kissel filed a missing-person report Nov. 6, 2003. When investigators found the body the next day, they arrested Nancy Kissel.
After a three-month trial, the jury of five men and two women deliberated for about eight hours before returning the guilty verdict. Dressed in black, as throughout the proceedings, the Michigan native listened to the mandatory life sentence without visible expression. It was unclear whether she planned an appeal.
(Sydney Morning Herald) Life sentence for wife who murdered expat banker. By Hamish MacDonald. September 3, 2005.
The American wife of a high-flying banker has been jailed for life in Hong Kong for murdering her husband after disabling him with a doped milkshake.
Nancy Kissel, a 41-year-old mother of three, was impassive as she was led away in handcuffs late on Thursday after a seven-person jury unanimously found her guilty after eight hours of deliberation. Her mother, Jean McGlothlin, and several friends wept in court.
The life sentence ended a three-month trial that has transfixed the former British colony with allegations of violence, brutal sex, suspicion and betrayal within a wealthy expatriate family who lived high above Hong Kong's harbour in the luxurious Parkview apartments.
Kissel was accused of killing her husband, Robert Kissel, 40, a senior Merrill Lynch banker, who has left an estate worth $US18 million ($23.5 million), on November 2, 2003, in order to avoid a "messy divorce".
Her husband had discovered her affair with a television repairman whom she met when she had taken her children home to Vermont during Hong Kong's SARS outbreak earlier that year.
At 3.30 that afternoon she prepared a "special" strawberry milkshake laced with four different kinds of sedatives she had accumulated on visits to different doctors, and fed it to her husband and a neighbour, Andrew Tanzer, a business journalist who had brought his daughter to the Kissel home for a play date.
Mr Tanzer's wife, Kazuko Ouchi, told the court her husband had passed out on a couch when he returned home at 4pm. A colleague of the banker, David Noh, said Mr Kissel sounded "slurry, mellow" and was "off the tangent" when they spoke on the phone around 5pm.
The prosecutor, Peter Chapman, charged that Kissel later smashed her sleeping husband's skull with a lead ornament. After keeping the body in the apartment for two days, she rolled it in an oriental carpet. Four workmen called to carry it to a storeroom complained about the weight and a bad smell. The body was found three days later and Kissel was arrested.
Her defence counsel, Alexander King, said Kissel had been subjected to five years of oral and anal sex and physical assault by her "controlling" husband, who abused cocaine and whose computer showed traces of searches for male and female prostitutes before business trips.
In her testimony, Nancy Kissel said she had hit out in self-defence after her husband attacked her with a baseball bat in a fight over divorce. She had been in a state of "dissociative amnesia" afterwards, explaining her "bizarre" cover-up, her lawyer argued.But the prosecutor argued the killing was carefully planned.
The two versions of the Kissels' lives have divided friends, families and colleagues. The South China Morning Post reported a clash outside the court between William Kissel, 77, the victim's father, and Jim Laurie, a neighbour who had been counselling Nancy Kissel.
"What puts you in a position to judge?" the father asked. Mr Laurie replied it was "impossible to know what happened" in the relationship.
(New Paper) 'Perfect couple' hid horror at home. September 3, 2005.
Among Hong Kong's expatriate elite, Robert and Nancy Kissel were widely considered a model couple.
They were always smiling, recalled friends to the South China Morning Post.
He was a high-flying investment banker in Hong Kong worth US$18 million ($30m).
She was an attractive and devoted mother of three who channelled her considerable energy into charitable causes.
They lived in a luxurious apartment, drove a Mercedes and a Porsche, and moved in high circles. Once, they even dined with former US president George Bush, reported the paper.
Then Nancy Kissel fed her husband a drugged milkshake and battered him to death with a statue.
What was revealed in her trial since has shattered the illusion of happiness the couple had so carefully presented to their privileged friends.
Abuse, addiction, sodomy and affairs became the cornerstone of Kissel's murder trial.
Yesterday she was found guilty of murder after a 12-week trial that transfixed Hong Kong and sentenced to life in prison.
Mr Kissel had chosen 2 Nov, 2003, as the day to tell his wife he wanted a divorce.
He had discovered she was still calling her lover in the US. She had met Mr Michael Del Priore when she had taken the children home to Vermont in March to escape the Sars crisis. (See report at right.)
But, he had told colleague David Noh, Nancy had found out about his plan. His lawyer had accidentally sent an email to the family e-mail account, not his office.
Nancy had a secret of her own. She had been storing up hypnotic drugs by visiting doctors claiming to be suffering from sleeping problems caused by her husband's abuse.
On the day of the murder, the couple went to a morning religious service, mingled with friends and ferried their children to various social events.
When they returned home, their daughter's friend came over to play. Nancy asked the girls to serve milkshakes to their fathers.
When the friend's father, Mr Andrew Tanzer, returned home, he passed out. He remembers nothing of that day.
Meanwhile, Mr Kissel called Mr Noh and sounded confused.
He asked the family's maid to take care of the children on another floor, and began getting ready for bed.
Then, he collapsed.
Nancy made her move. She grabbed an ornament with a metal base and stuck her husband in the side of the head five times.
The blows were so strong, two figurines sheared off and blood splashed around the room.
Each one fractured his skull; any one of the five could have killed him.
The next day, Nancy went on a shopping spree after telling her maid not to clean the bedroom, and bought a bed, sheets and an expensive carpet, reported The Standard.
The day after that, she asked about hiring a storeroom in the building, and was told there was one on her floor.
On the third day, she asked maintenance workers to help her haul a bulky and smelly roll of carpet down to the storeroom.
One the fourth day, 6 Nov, she made a police report claiming her husband had beaten her on 2 Nov.
When the investigating officers visited the apartment to search for evidence, she talked privately with her father, who had just arrived from the US, then led the way to the storeroom to reveal the body.
Defence lawyer Alexander King painted Nancy as a submissive wife who snapped when her husband threatened to take her three children away.
He painted her husband as a paranoid and manipulative cocaine addict who had subjected her to five years of abuse and sexual humiliation.
She had suffered broken ribs, bruises and a black eye on different occasions, he claimed, and produced witnesses who claimed to have seen her injuries.
Mr Kissel also surfed gay porn websites and hired male and female prostitutes when on business abroad, he said.
She had been a fashion and design student in New York when she met her dashing and ambitious young husband, he said.
Within months of their marriage in 1989, she had put aside her own ambitions to juggle three catering jobs to fund his MBA studies and bear him three children.
But he allegedly spent much of what she earned on cocaine.
'You were supporting him, you were giving him the money. How much would he spend on the drugs?' asked prosecutor Peter Chapman.
Kissel replied: 'It would vary. Sometimes US$100 a day, sometimes more.'
Despite this, Mr Kissel found work as a high-powered investment banking executive with Merrill Lynch and in 1997 was posted to Hong Kong.
But her dreams of a fresh start were thwarted by his increasing demands for unnatural sex, Mr King alleged.
'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.
She did not tell anyone or seek medical help.
Nancy's lover was a key figure in the case.
The odd job worker lived in a caravan in the US and saw her as a 'gold mine', according to the prosecution.
He could have given her 'tacit encouragement' to kill her husband, said Mr Chapman.
There were 106 phone calls between the two on the Kissels' phone bill in October 2003 alone, he said, and many more in the days after the killing.
Did wife's lover put her up to it?
The brother of Nancy's lover regrets he ever introduced the pair.
The Kissels were customers at his hi-fi equipment in Vermont, in the US, near his holiday home.
'Mr Kissel was a customer of ours for years, and a very decent man,' he said.
When Nancy Kissel brought the children over during the Sars crisis, he sent his elder brother to her home to repair the sound system.
Mr Michael Del Priore lived in a caravan nearby and was twice divorced.
He was also a notorious womaniser, said his brother.
He was 'looking for a big chance' when he found Nancy Kissel, his brother told the South China Morning Post.
'Michael talked to people around town about the affair. He bragged about getting rich... He was bragging about money and what he was going to get out of Nancy.'
He sacked his brother over the affair.
Of Nancy, he said: 'I just keep thinking she made some really bad decisions.'
The businessman who has never been to Hong Kong still feels guilty over his 'part' in it.
'I regret that I did not say anything to anyone... I just feel remorse over this whole situation,' he said.
And he will always be haunted by the chilling phone call he received from Robert Kissel's brother, Andrew, just after the murder.
'The phone rang and it was Andrew. All he said was: 'Your brother killed my brother.' ' The victim's father agreed. Mr William Kissel said: 'She (Nancy) did and said things that only a Michael Del Priore could have taught her.'
(The Standard) Kissel's lawyers considering appeal. By Albert Wong. September 3, 2005.
With final details settled and a last appearance in court by the convicted killer, the arduous Milkshake Murder trial finally closed Friday.
Defense counsel for Nancy Kissel, 41, suggested in the High Court Friday that they are considering an appeal of her murder conviction.
While she appeared before Justice Michael Lunn, her lawyers completed administrative procedures for removal of exhibits and defended an application for additional costs.
Outside the courtroom, Alexander King SC, who represented her throughout the trial, which lasted nearly three months, said: "Nancy will be advised as to her right to appeal." According to Hong Kong criminal legal procedures, Kissel - who was convicted of murdering her husband and given a mandatory life sentence Thursday - will have 28 days to file an application for appeal.
Kissel's mother and two close friends, Nancy Nassberg and Geertruida Samra, returned Friday morning to maintain their show of support.
Due to the unexpected length of the trial, which had been scheduled for 30 days but lasted 66, the prosecution applied for additional costs to be born by the defense.
King, however, argued that the nature of the trial required lengthy cross-examination and extra witnesses, including a computer expert to sort through complicated data.
While the judge deliberated over costs, Kissel and her mother, Jane McGlothlin, were allowed to spend half an hour together while they awaited the judge's ruling.
In his ruling, Lunn agreed with King and declined to make a specific order as to costs.
At 4.15pm, the trial officially closed.
According to a statement by the Correctional Services Department, Kissel's friends and family will be able to visit her in Tai Lam Center for Women in the New Territories twice a month for 15 minutes each.
She is now in "cellular accommodation" and is allowed an hour's daily exercise.
Of the 600 inmates at the facility, 81 are "other nationals." The statement said there are 13 trades available for her to work at and a suitable one will be assigned to her.
"Suitable prevention and precautionary measures are in place to thwart/minimize suicide attempts by inmates. Counseling by professional psychologists is also available," the statement said.
A report by Human Rights Watch in 1997 remarked that correctional facilities in Hong Kong remain "markedly overcrowded" and the increase of female inmates was largely due to the influx of prostitutes from the mainland.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported that, without an appeal, Kissel's life sentence would be reviewed in five years, and thereafter every two years, by a government board that can recommend that her sentence be commuted to a fixed term.
She can then seek early release after serving two-thirds of that term, according to the Hong Kong Security Bureau.
Alternatively, after completing any appeal, Kissel could seek a transfer to a federal prison in the United States, where she will be eligible for parole after a decade behind bars, according to information from the US Consulate in Hong Kong and the US Department of Justice Web site.
(SCMP) Kissel weighs appeal against conviction. By Polly Hui. September 3, 2005.
Nancy Kissel may appeal against her murder conviction and life sentence, her lawyer said yesterday.
Alexander King SC said after a post-trial hearing that an appeal was being considered.
Prosecutor Peter Chapman also said he did not expect the case to be over yet.
"It is only chapter one of the Kissel case. Chapter two will start on the third floor of this court building - the Court of Appeal," he said. "The fat lady has not started singing yet."
Kissel, 41, on Thursday was sentenced to life imprisonment for drugging her husband, senior Merrill Lynch banker Robert Peter Kissel, with a sedative-laced milk- shake and bludgeoning him to death with a lead ornament in their Parkview home on November 2, 2003.
Michigan-born Kissel was back in the dock yesterday, looking pale-faced and red-eyed, as counsel discussed the most contentious exhibit in the case, a baseball bat.
Mr Chapman argued that defence should shoulder part of the prosecution's costs as a lot of court time was wasted because Kissel's lawyers did not inform them of the existence of the bat until midway through the trial. A number of witnesses had to be recalled as a result.
During the trial, the defence alleged Robert Kissel had used the bat to beat his wife before the killing.
Mr Justice Michael Lunn ruled out the request for costs, saying the delay in producing the bat had not resulted in a trial adjournment.
The public gallery, which had been packed for weeks, looked bare yesterday as only journalists, Kissel's mother, Jean McGlothlin, and some close friends attended the hearing.
Ms McGlothlin kept looking at her daughter, weeping from time to time. But Kissel smiled after Mr King went to speak to her in the dock before she was taken away by guards.
Prosecution exhibits - including many bloody items - were returned to the Aberdeen Police Station in a van with four masked workmen.
(SCMP) The last days of a man who 'had everything'. By Barclay Crawford. September 3, 2005.
On Sunday, November 2, 2003, Robert Kissel must have felt the weight of the world on his shoulders. Only those close to the couple knew of the problems in the marriage, of wife Nancy's affair, and Robert's decision to talk to Nancy about getting a divorce that evening.
But on top of this he was preparing a bid for the biggest buyout of bad debt in Asian financial history. Since mid-September Robert had been working 14-hour days preparing to make a bid for $14 billion in non-performing loans from the Bank of China, which involved careful analysis of thousands of non-performing loans.
The competition was hot. This deal was considered a seminal moment in an industry that had blossomed in the wake of Asia's financial crisis in 1997 and 1998. And everyone wanted a slice.
"It was historic. This was truly the moment, and we all wanted to be there," said Joseph Draper, head of Asia Principal Investments with Citigroup.
Robert Kissel was portrayed in court as a debonair banker who loved the power, money and status of his job. But according to his colleagues, he was far more a humble, "jeans and T-shirt guy" who was more of a number cruncher with a sharp brain and an eye for detail than one renowned for long lunches and flashy suits. "Whether you spoke to Rob at 3am or midday, he was always sharp as a nail," one colleague said.
Robert had to be. In his line of work, one bad decision, one small factor of a loan not properly analysed, meant your company could lose millions, leaving your professional reputation in ruins.
At 9.30am that Sunday, Robert was as sharp as ever. The family was at the United Jewish Congregation. Nancy Kissel, far from the dour character slumped in the stand of the High Court during her three-month trial, was, as ever, the picture of blonde glamour and elegance - with her trademark dark sunglasses.
She was, as usual, loud and full of energy, and looking great with a $5,000 cut and colour from the Debut hair salon in the luxury Parkview estate where the family lived.
On the surface, they could have been the perfect family. But beneath the surface was the pressure of a failed marriage, disruptive children and the debt deal that would have cemented Robert at the top of his game.
Rabbi Lee Diamond led a discussion on some anti-Semitic comments made by outgoing Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad at his resignation speech, and Robert Kissel featured prominently in the discussion. His Jewish identity was important and he wanted his children to grow up proud of their heritage.
The United Jewish Congregation in Hong Kong is a powerful organisation, so it was no surprise that some of the key players in the Bank of China deal found themselves talking shop while waiting for their children to finish Sunday school.
Hong Kong's distressed-debt community is largely American, experts who developed their skills around the world and moved to Hong Kong to exploit the Asian financial crisis of 1997 and 1998, as Robert Kissel had done.
Robert and Clifford Chance lawyer Jonathan Zonis, who was working with Merrill Lynch on parts of the deal, found themselves talking to Jonathan Ross, from the Bank of China, and Ian Johnson, of Allen and Overy, who was working for another competitor.
"Rob was saying the field of distressed debt was more competitive than it had ever been and at the same time, he was perhaps more open about the transaction than I thought he would have been," Mr Zonis recalled.
The men were surprised about how frankly Robert, normally the consummate professional, discussed the deal, even outlining some of the financial detail of the bid. He gave Ross a "hard time" about the information the bank had provided him with, outlining some problems with the documentation.
Sunday school ended. Robert, always the family man, stopped talking to hug his children, whom he adored. Those children were described by family and friends as warm and lively, but also "high-maintenance".
One mother close to the family said Nancy was often oblivious to some of their faults - especially son Reis, whose behaviour was concerning teachers at Parkview International Primary School.
In the last week of October 2003, the bid for Bank of China was supposed to take place. But it had been delayed, and many of those working for Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Standard Chartered and Morgan Stanley and various legal teams found themselves in Lan Kwai Fong looking for a quiet beer. They gravitated to Stormy Weather, a bar many now choose not to visit.
It was on this occasion that Robert Kissel chose to tell many that his marriage was over, that his wife was having an affair and he was planning a divorce.
The moment he revealed the end of his marriage was described by one senior banker as "climactic", uttered quietly by a man without colour in his face, who had tried his best against insurmountable odds, but was now finally throwing in the towel.
He would not even challenge for custody of his beloved children as long as he was given access.
However, the pressure of the Bank of China bid put the revelation firmly in the backs of the minds of those who were there.
On the Sunday night, the bidders called each other, wishing the best for the following week.
Robert did not answer his phone or return calls, but they knew he would be dealing with a much more important issue - the end of his marriage.
Then, on the Tuesday of the bid, Robert Kissel was not there - only David Noh, who made excuses for him.
But again, those close knew there were serious problems at home, and accepted Nancy's version - that her husband was "very, very sick".
Nancy had been working on the World's Fair for Hong Kong International School, but e-mailed children's entertainer Scotty to cancel a meeting on the Monday.
On Monday afternoon, she visited her favourite shop, Tequila Kola, to buy rugs to replace the one she would use to wrap her husband's body.
That week, Nancy had also been in charge of preparing invitations to a formal fund-raiser for the synagogue. On Tuesday, close friend Samantha Kriegel phoned to see how the invitations were going. She sensed Nancy was not herself and said she would come over.
But Nancy declined, and said to her: "Listen, don't tell anyone, but Rob is very, very sick, but I haven't told the kids yet."
Ms Kriegel was shaken by Nancy's statements and called Robert Zonis' wife, whom she told what Nancy had said. Mrs Zonis repeated the comments to her husband.
"We were shaken by this news because we had seen Rob on Sunday and he had seemed the picture of health," Mr Zonis said.
"The rumour didn't make sense, but it would have been inappropriate to call Rob as we were right in the middle of a massive deal and I was representing a competing bidder. It might not make sense in hindsight, but that was the last I thought of it until the next day, when I heard he had been killed."
On Friday, November 7, Robert Kissel's colleague and confidant, David Noh, began making a series of phone calls that would devastate a community. "We just want to let you know that Rob is dead and the police suspect that it was a domestic incident," he said in a quavering voice to one member of the elite circle the family moved in.
There had been other hints in the lead-up to November 2 that all was not well.
A husband and wife, who barely knew the Kissels, had been invited over to a family dinner. "At the time, I thought it was really strange, because we didn't even know them," the guest said. "But now, thinking back, maybe Nancy just wanted people around the house." The Kissels spent the dinner openly quarrelling, and the wife said to her husband "if you spoke to me like that, I'd slap you across the face".
When Nancy came back to Hong Kong from Vermont, after the Sars crisis, she liked to "shock" friends by pulling down her shirt and revealing new tattoos, in Chinese characters, of the years her children were born.
"She enjoyed the shock factor. You could tell that Rob was not impressed by this," a friend said. "She said that in Vermont she had wanted to do something a little bit wild."
On Friday, November 7, a small group gathered in the Kriegel living room to try to come to terms with the shocking events. "You can't understand the devastation this has caused," Mr Zonis said.
"It is beyond shock. We were all in our late thirties to early forties, with beautiful young families, at the top of our careers with everything going right in our lives. And then this happens.
"These were people who seemingly had everything. We sat in stunned silence trying to make some sense of this. I'm not sure we have learned any more answers now than we did then."
(SCMP) A 'bad mother' prone to violent rages. By Barclay Crawford. September 3, 2005.
Robert Kissel had told friends his spendthrift wife had become a bad mother "prone to violent rages" and that he had considered trying to win custody of the children when he divorced her.
Colleagues have also confirmed that on the Sunday he was killed by his wife he had intended to tell her the marriage was over.
From September to November 2003, when the marriage had completely broken down, he repeatedly told close friends that he did not trust his wife to properly bring up his children and had asked for advice about how to win custody.
Kissel, an expert in distressed debt, believed his wife was not a good mother and that her attitude was "particularly ambivalent" towards their son and youngest child, Reis, who was "out of control".
"He felt helpless. From what he told me, he was worried about his son, who was acting up, and it pained him to see that Nancy did not seem to care," the friend said. "Reis needed discipline, and she was never there to give it to him." Kissel told colleagues during a business trip that his wife was prone to violent rages and he "struggled to understand" how she could put her affair with Michael Del Priore ahead of his children.
He said he was disgusted at the thought that the children had spent time with the television repair man during the family's stay in Vermont during the Sars crisis.
He was also upset that she had then ignored them in the months leading up to his murder by spending up to four hours at a time on the phone to her Vermont lover.
"He said Nancy was this angry, angry person and he was concerned his children would grow up like that," one friend said.
"The money she spent, he didn't really care about that, because he felt he had gone out of his way to make up for moving to Asia."
David Noh, Kissel's workmate and close friend at Merrill Lynch, testified that there was a "turning point" in the marriage when Robert had pushed his wife after an argument. Mr Noh testified to the court that Kissel told him that he had shoved his wife during an argument because she kept yelling at him "you will never live that down" or "you will pay for that".
Mr Noh also said Kissel was resigned to losing his children.
Behind his wife's friendly and warm exterior, Kissel said, lay a "dark, narcissistic woman" who was only concerned with herself.
The South China Morning Post has learned Nancy often spent $5,000 on her hair at the now defunct Parkview hairdressing salon, Debut. But despite her spending habits, she was not well liked at the salon, with one customer describing her as an "asshole".
Nancy was also one of the best customers of expensive furniture shop Tequila Kola, often spending thousands of dollars at the store and giving delivery staff huge tips.
The Kissel children have been described as "hard work" and "undisciplined".
The youngest, Reis, was disruptive in class at Parkview International Prep School, and teachers had told the Kissels they needed to be tougher at home.
Friends said Robert had been determined to make the marriage work and that he had been to weekly marriage counselling sessions with Nancy.
Between August 2002 and March 2003, he spent most of his time in Taiwan, working on a big deal.
"But he would always make sure he was on the plane on Friday night back to Hong Kong to be with his family," a friend said.
In May 2003, after a long period of trouble, Nancy turned up at the office to tell him she wanted the marriage to work.
"He was so excited by that, by the thought that they could work through their differences."
But then she left with the children for Vermont and met lover Michael Del Priore.
(SCMP) Traumatised fathers left to pick up the pieces. By Polly Hui. September 3, 2005.
Late one night in early November, 2003, William Kissel had a weird dream in his home in Florida. In his dream, he saw Robert, his second son, lying on a red-brownish oriental rug in his bedroom.
Getting ready for a party at 6pm on November 6, he received a call from his elder son, Andrew Kissel, who told him that Robert was dead. He fainted, and found himself in a hospital the next morning.
Doctors ordered a guard to stand outside his ward to make sure that he did not take his own life. But Mr Kissel told them he must leave right away to catch a plane to Hong Kong to deal with the aftermath of his son's shocking death.
He learned later that his daughter-in-law, Nancy, had been arrested for murdering his son, whose body had been found rolled up in a red-brown rug.
Eighteen months later, the 77-year-old flew to Hong Kong again, prepared to confront every gruesome detail of the murder.
"It's as difficult now as it was then. For one-and-a-half years, one lived in anticipation of closure. But when I think about closure, I think about my son lying in the ground, his family wrecked," Mr Kissel told the South China Morning Post. "Why did I come? Because I owe it to my son, I owe it to my grandchildren and myself. I have never run away from a battle."
The father was angry and upset about Nancy Kissel's "unfounded and crazy allegations in court of sodomy and cocaine abuse" by his son. "She is a pathological liar," he said. Had Robert ever used cocaine, he would not have lasted five minutes in Merrill Lynch or Goldman Sachs, he said.
He said Nancy had not only killed his son but her lies had killed her three children, who would find news reports of the case on websites and become the potential subject of gossip from the people around them.
"It's all about greed. Rob was prepared to have a divorce and give her a lot of money. But she wanted all the US$18 million [worth of the deceased's estate] and to go to that Michael Del Priore with her kids," he said.
Mr Kissel said he had taken notes in court, otherwise "I would fly through the roof".
Towards the end of the trial, Alexander King SC, for the defence, complained to the judge that Mr Kissel was often shaking his head in the public gallery when witnesses were being questioned. After the hearing was adjourned, the father walked up to the lawyer and said: "Mr King, I was just falling asleep when you were talking."
He could not look at the pillows and bedcovers soaked with his son's blood as they were paraded in the courtroom.
Mr Kissel, who ran a company manufacturing toner for photocopying machines in New Jersey before retiring, said his son had established his own circle after getting married. "Sometimes our circles interacted, sometimes they went apart," he said, adding that his son defended his wife at all times.
He described Robert as "the person I would want to be" - a sweet, dear father, a great athlete and a universalist who loved life.
"You know what, he actually loved Nancy," he said. "There was something charismatic that Rob saw in Nancy. But he was a fool."
The circumstances leading to his son's death were bizarre, he said.
In contrast to Mr Kissel's trial-long vigil, Nancy's father, Ira Keeshin kissed his daughter goodbye in the dock on August 19, two days after his testimony, and flew home to take care of business.
Earlier the same day, he had stood in disbelief as Mr Kissel walked past him outside the courtroom as if he had been invisible.
"I didn't kill his son," he said, accusing Mr Kissel of having "little compassion".
"Why do I have to speak to [Ira]?" Mr Kissel asked. He added that he did not trust his daughter-in-law's family.
Mr Keeshin said he loved Robert, who probably talked to him more often than to his own father. Nancy was the one who kept in touch with her husband's family when he was not speaking to his father.
Five minutes after kissing his daughter goodbye through the dock, he left the courtroom and took several deep breaths.
"I told her I will be all right because I know she will be all right. She told me she will be all right," Mr Keeshin said.
The father recalled how his daughter had survived her year in the Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre, picking up Cantonese and making friends with inmates by doing portraits for them.
The 63-year-old said he would not stay for the verdict as he had to take care of his baking company in Chicago, which distributes bread to airlines and restaurants, to make sure he would not have to sell all his assets for the trial.
He said he had borrowed a lot to pay the defence lawyers more than US$1.5 million.
There may be one thing the two fathers agree on - neither sees the point of Nancy getting in touch with her three children.
Mr Kissel said that after reading about the killing on the internet, the Kissels' second child, June, eight, said: "Mummy killed daddy. I don't want to see her again."
Mr Keeshin said all his daughter needed to know was that her children were in good care. He said he was comfortable that they were now in the temporary custody of Hayley, the estranged wife of Robert's brother, Andrew, in Connecticut.
Asked if he believed his daughter's allegations against her husband, the father said: "I have to believe her. All it takes is to be abused by your husband once."
Mr Keeshin yesterday said he had been very emotional after receiving the call from defence solicitor Simon Clark about his daughter's life sentence. "The outcome certainly does not ease the pain and I need to get the words together to tell Elaine, my 11-year-old granddaughter, the outcome," he said.
He recalled breaking the news of the banker's death to Elaine, who was only about nine at the time.
"I told her that mummy and daddy got in a fight, and daddy did not survive the fight. We both cried for a while," he said.
He said he had cried a lot after the killing. But he had now learned to control his emotions better.
(SCMP) Few are surprised by the guilty verdict. By Dennis Eng. September 3, 2005.
Few people were surprised by the guilty verdict handed down in Nancy Kissel's murder trial - and the news that she is to appeal did nothing to dampen the sense of relief at the outcome of the case felt by many of Robert's close friends.
"I'm just relieved that this is over," Carol Japngie, Robert's high-school sweetheart, said. She has been invited to spend a long weekend at the Florida residence of Robert's father to reconnect with the Kissel family.
Daniel Williams, Robert's best friend from childhood, said: "It could not be better news. It's sad to say that I'm overjoyed but we all knew she was guilty. The main concern now is his kids, who will have to live without their parents."
A murder conviction automatically carries a life sentence. The Kissels' three children are being cared for in the United States by their aunt, Hayley, who has filed for divorce from Andrew Kissel, Robert's brother.
Jill Canin, who dated Robert for two years in college, was both glad and sad. "I guess I'm really shocked too. I can't believe how sad his life was and what a horrible person he married," she said.
Told the news, Elizabeth LaCause, who has been friends with Nancy for almost 20 years, was temporarily lost for words.
"I really thought the jury was going to come back with manslaughter," she said in a quavering voice.
Her husband, John, was also disappointed by the verdict and pointed out that the short time it took the jury members to reach a consensus made the case suspect. He felt that the defence team could have done a better job - and had originally expected a verdict some time next week.
"They decided very quickly, which just shows that the jury was predisposed to her guilt before they went into the room. I feel terrible for her and her family."
(SCMP) Kissel may have planned to ship husband's body to US. By Barclay Crawford and Raymond Ma. September 4, 2005.
Nancy Kissel may have planned to ship her dead husband back to the US with the rest of the couple's possessions, the Sunday Morning Post can reveal.
Only three days after bludgeoning her husband Robert to death, Kissel contacted Links Relocations to organise a quote for shipping the contents of her Tai Tam flat and the storeroom where she had the body of her husband stashed.
A salesman from Links confirmed that Kissel had called on November 5. This was the same day she organised for workmen to remove the rug that contained her husband's body from the flat to a storeroom.
One of the workmen who removed the carpet told Parkview residents that the Kissels' youngest son, Reis, had said: "It stinks. Why does it stink?" as it was removed from the Tower 17 apartment.
During the near-three-month trial, the jury heard that Reis, four, had no idea his father's corpse was being carried past him as he held open the door of the flat.
The head workman told the jury the carpet smelt like "salt fish" but they nevertheless removed it and put it in the storeroom.
Residents at Parkview have told the Post that in the weeks following the murder, workers in the estate's excess storage area would joke with women who brought large items to store there: "Have you got your murdered husband in there?"
Parkview has refused to comment on any aspect of the trial.
Meanwhile, Kissel was settling into the Tai Lam Centre for Women yesterday after being jailed for life on Thursday.
She may have once spent $5,000 on her hair, but the best she can expect now will be a trim from an inmate. Tai Lam has no barber and inmates are assigned to haircutting and manicuring duties as one of 13 trades to occupy their time.
"Everybody has to keep their hair clean and tidy," a Correctional Services Department spokesman said.
"Nancy Kissel will undergo the ordinary procedures that are required of any prisoner."
(SCMP) Steamy Kissel saga the perfect fodder for New York papers. By David Watkins. September 4, 2005.
New York newspaper headlines screamed "Black Widow" and "Life for Wife" as Hong Kong's high-profile murder trial got wide coverage in American media preoccupied with the New Orleans disaster.
The steamy saga of former New Yorker Robert Kissel's murder and the finale of what proved to be one of Hong Kong's most lurid 67 days in the courtroom, proved irresistible tabloid fodder.
"Black Widow," ran the New York Post's headline above a shot of a covered Nancy Kissel being driven away to prison in the back seat of her escort vehicle. "Raven-haired Nancy Kissel, who gave up her husband's millions for a fling with a handyman, showed no emotion as the jury found her guilty of killing Robert Kissel," said the report.
The Post ran a picture of Michael Del Priore, the television repairman with whom Kissel had had an affair. It quoted Mr Del Priore's brother, Lance, who described his sibling as "a chameleon" who had previously cheated on both his wives and left them with children. "That speaks volumes," Lance Del Priore was quoted as saying of his brother. Michael was clearly unavailable for comment.
The Daily News also found room to cover Thursday's verdict that Kissel was guilty of drugging, then bludgeoning her Merrill Lynch banker husband to death.
"People packed the courtroom during the 'Milkshake Murder' trial, which gave the public a rare glimpse into the private life of the affluent expatriates who live in a world of maids, fancy cars and high-flying jobs in Hong Kong," the Daily News said.
The New York Times also found room to feature the story of "A Milkshake, a Dead Banker and a Verdict in Hong Kong", with a decidedly more measured outlook than its tabloid counterparts.
While detailing the case's finer details, it also brought attention to another reason why the story is of relevance in New York. "The case has transfixed investment bankers in New York, where the couple lived before moving to Hong Kong, and has captivated expatriates across Asia," it wrote.
But the case has also drawn attention because of the prosecution this summer of Kissel's brother, Andrew, on charges of engineering an elaborate real estate fraud in the New York metropolitan area involving tens of millions of dollars.
(SCMP) A trial and a show. By Barclay Crawford. September 5, 2005.
An advertising executive retorted loudly across a Central bar that reading the daily twists, turns and salacious allegations made in the trial of Nancy Ann Kissel for the murder of her husband Robert was "the only thing that got me out of bed in the morning".
While the daily fix is over for this particular high-flyer, Nancy Kissel has now had four days to contemplate a life sentence behind bars, while the fallout from her shocking crime continues in Hong Kong and the US.
Labelled Hong Kong's trial of the decade, the revelations over the past 2-1/2 months in the Court of First Instance have had a firm grip on much of Hong Kong's expat community, with the events that led to Robert Peter Kissel's murder in the couple's luxury apartment on November 2, 2003, leading to endless innuendo, speculation and wild gossip at social gatherings across the city.
But it was a different story for those close to the family. Nancy Kissel's accusations brought a mixture of disgust and disbelief to those who knew the family. "I think many of us realise this defence she was running has never been about what really happened, but about keeping her out of jail," one close family friend said.
Another said there were times when he had to lock himself in a room and scream because he was so angry at the "unfounded" allegations Nancy Kissel was making against her husband. "This woman was clearly a bad, angry person," he said. "I would be frightened to be close to her. Even [her lover Michael] Del Priore must be thanking his lucky stars he got out of there alive."
Another colleague said: "The defence didn't help either. There seemed to be this suggestion that it was 'strange' he was talking to his work colleagues about the problems in the marriage. Who else was he going to talk to?"
But most tuned in to see if Robert Kissel, whose hard work had seen him scale a very tall earnings tree with his employer Merrill Lynch, was really a drug and alcohol-fuelled sociopath who battered his wife and forced anal sex upon her. They also tuned in to see whether this sordid defence could keep Nancy Kissel, who had admitted to killing her husband, out of jail - "imagine if she walks?"
It was these grubby details early in the case which saw Nancy Kissel lose sympathy or support from most of those close to the family. They have been furious about the slandering of Robert Kissel's character by his wife - and the terrible legacy that leaves for the children.
"Kissel used cocaine and beat his wife? Well, while no-one can ever see behind closed doors, he was just not like that," said an associate who worked on numerous deals with the banker. "Sure, he was a wild child in his day, but Robert had become the most dedicated family man you would ever meet. The only boozing was maybe one or two beers at Lan Kwai Fong now and then."
Another concern has been the damage done to the Kissels' three children, who are now back in the US and likely to be subjected to a custody battle. One mother, whose children were friends with the Kissels' two daughters and son, saw the children recently and said that while they seemed to be doing well, the psychological scars were likely to be deep.
The murder also forced many parents whose kids knew the popular Kissel children - Elaine, June and Reis - to confront the prickly subject of murder with their children.
One witness in the trial said his daughter had discovered Robert Kissel's brother, Andrew, was facing trial for fraud before he did. "She was right on the ball with the case and followed every twist and turn," the witness said.
Nancy Kissel's supporters and visitors came largely from the Hong Kong International School. One, Geertruida Samra, president of the Parent Faculty Organisation, helped with her bail and regularly visited her in Siu Lam psychiatric centre after the murder.
Some of Robert Kissel's friends were also reportedly behind his wife. Jim Laurie, a distinguished former journalist and University of Hong Kong lecturer, along with a number of his students, stood firmly by Nancy Kissel's mother Jean McGlothlin.
As the tension mounted when the jury was deliberating, Mr Laurie lashed out at the police investigators, claiming the crime scene was not sealed. He became involved in a heated argument with the deceased's father over evidence and questioned whether the children would be cared for.
"What puts you in a position to judge? You are a local Hong Kong guy trying to ride the coattails of some notoriety," William Kissel said, accusing Mr Laurie of wanting to cash in on the murder with a book.
While many observers might have their own theories on whether the 41-year-old housewife was guilty or innocent, it was only the opinions of the five men and two women who made up the jury that mattered. And they had much to consider in the case now called "the milkshake murder" in headlines around the world.
By the fourth day of Nancy Kissel's testimony, the courtroom was packed, as lawyers, students and domestic helpers scrambled for the 60 available seats. They were often joined by "Parkview wives", who had come to see the downfall of one of their own.
The court was forced to impose crowd-control measures, asking the public to queue in an orderly manner before entering the courtroom. Two marshals were used to guard the entrance, and belongings used to reserve seats over lunch were removed.
By August 8, eight weeks after it opened, Nancy Ann Kissel's murder trial was the biggest show in town.
Hong Kong's English-language press, including the South China Morning Post, picked up the early interest in the case and ran extensive reports as the saga unfolded.
Coverage from news wire services has seen the case run in national papers from The Daily Telegraph in London and The Scotsman, to The New York Times, The New York Post, The Washington Times and The Boston Globe in the US.
But apart from the prosecutor's opening, the first day of the defence and some evidence, much of this international interest has not been reflected in the highly competitive Chinese-language press. Reporters from many of the city's top dailies said they were "frustrated" at the lack of interest shown in their work by their editors.
Associate professor of criminal law at the University of Hong Kong, Simon Young Ngai-man, said cultural as well as language barriers were the main reasons the trial had not attracted such a high level of interest among the Chinese community.
However, those same reasons were the prime draw for expatriates in Hong Kong.
The trial featured one of Hong Kong's best prosecutors facing one of its best defence lawyers, in English, without the hindrance of translations.
"We have a female who is accused of murdering her husband, a leading member of Hong Kong's financial community," Mr Young said. "They are members of the elite, upper crust of the expat society in Hong Kong. These are people who do not normally display any form of criminality - at least not in public, anyway.
"The community feels they are getting a glimpse inside the private world of two people, finding out intimate details of their lives, even down to what websites they surfed."
The people who regularly made their way to the packed public gallery formed an eclectic group. Among them were retirees, those with an "unnatural fascination with death", while some claimed to be writing a novel or magazine piece on the case. They are unlikely to be the only ones who will try.
What many spectators shared was a touch of embarrassment that their interest in the trial prompted them to sit through days of evidence over the past two months.
"Perhaps one of the main reasons I'm here is because I have an interest in murder," said one local observer, who asked that his name not be published. "And there has never been a trial like this in Hong Kong, at least not in my lifetime. It's like it has been scripted for a movie, but the story is one you wouldn't believe."
Another spectator, who also wanted anonymity, said her interest lay in the uniqueness of the case. Even when she left Hong Kong for her native India, she closely monitored the daily revelations on the internet. "There has never been a trial like this involving the expat community, at least not in the past 20 years," she said.
But although she watched the trial closely, she admitted that she sometimes felt sorry for the families involved, and wished the court had been closed from public view.
Nevertheless, it did not stop her returning to the court controlled by Mr Justice Michael Lunn to witness the final outcome.
(Reuters) Wife convicted of milkshake murder to appeal-report. September 7, 2005.
An American housewife jailed for life in Hong Kong for murdering her prominent banker husband intends to file an appeal, radio station RTHK reported on Wednesday.
A Hong Kong jury last Thursday found mother of three Nancy Kissel guilty of the premeditated murder of her husband Robert in 2003, ending a trial that riveted the city with tales of rough sex, marital violence and adultery.
A judge sentenced her to life in prison.
Kissel has given notice of her intention to appeal the conviction and lawyers could file it as early as next week, the radio station said, citing lawyers in the case.
Her lawyers were not immediately available for comment.
Kissel, 41, admitted to killing the top Merrill Lynch banker, but pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder. Her lawyer argued she had acted in self defense after her husband had tried to sexually assault her and began to beat her.
The prosecution said she had obtained various drugs from doctors and then gave her husband a strawberry milkshake laced with sedatives, including a date-rape drug. When he was incapacitated, she bludgeoned him to death.
Her husband had intended to divorce her and take their children, the court heard.
(SCMP) Police deny leads on Kissel's lover. September 8, 2005.
Police have closed investigations into the murder of investment banker Robert Kissel and, contrary to reports, are not pursuing inquiries into his wife's lover, Michael Del Priore.
Nancy Ann Kissel, 41, was convicted last week of murdering her husband by drugging him, then bludgeoning him to death. She rolled his body in a carpet and had it stashed in a storeroom on the Parkview estate where the couple lived, the court heard.
Prosecutor Peter Chapman suggested during Kissel's trial that she killed her husband with her lover's "tacit support" and planned to flee into his arms after the crime.
Western District police commander David Madoc-Jones yesterday dismissed as "incorrect rumours" reports that police were investigating Mr Del Priore. But he confirmed police did explore a link between Kissel and Mr Del Priore at the start of their investigation, and found no evidence suggesting any direct link between the Vermont-based TV repairman and the crime.
While police have telephone records showing Kissel talked to Mr Del Priore before and after the November 2003 murder, they have no way of knowing what passed between them.
Immigration records show Mr Del Priore was not in Hong Kong either before or after the murder.
"Unless they decide to tell us what was said in those conversations, and in the absence of any direct evidence, there is nothing we can do," Mr Madoc-Jones said.
William Kissel, Robert's father, said there was no doubt in his mind that Mr Del Priore played a role.
"It is all there in the evidence and in the interview in the South China Morning Post," Mr Kissel said. Mr Del Priore's brother Lance recalled telling his brother: "You must have had something to do with this."
The killing shocked Hong Kong and many found the trial enthralling.
Kissel's lurid defence - that her husband was addicted to cocaine, drank heavily, beat her and persistently demanded rough sex, and that his actions drove her to kill him - made headlines around the world.
She pleaded not guilty to murder but a jury of seven found her guilty at the end of the near three-month-long trial and Mr Justice Michael Lunn imposed a mandatory life sentence.
Kissel's legal team are considering whether to file an appeal against her conviction for murder and life sentence.
(National Review) The Same Old Story. By John Derbyshire. September 27, 2005.
If one examines the murders which have given the greatest amount of pleasure to the British public… – George Orwell, “Decline of the English Murder” (1946)
The conviction of Nancy Kissel, the “milkshake murderess,” was briefly noticed in this magazine (“The Week,” 9/26/05). Mrs. Kissel was the wife of a senior Merrill Lynch executive stationed in Hong Kong. She did the deed by feeding her husband a strawberry milkshake fortified with a date-rape drug, then, when he was unconscious, bludgeoning him to death with an art object made of lead. She then rolled Mr. Kissel up in a carpet which she secured with tape and had taken away to a storage room. The Chinese workmen who carried the carpet complained that it smelled of salted fish. (I imagine they were thinking of the mo-yu, or inkfish, a south-Chinese delicacy which does indeed have a powerfully putrid smell.) Mrs. Kissel claimed at trial that her husband had spied on her, threatened her with a baseball bat, patronized gay porn websites, and demanded unorthodox sexual favors. All these allegations were declared by Mr. Kissel’s relatives, acquaintances and colleagues to be grossly out of character for the man they had known.
It emerged that while taking refuge at the family home in Vermont during the 2003 SARS epidemic, Mrs. Kissel had fallen into an affair with a cable repairman who lived in a nearby trailer park. Passionate letters were exchanged after her return to the Far East. The fact that her husband’s demise would bring her several million dollars was discussed. Her husband found out about the affair, was furious, and threatened divorce. Money! Sex! Class! “Hearts filled with passion, / Jealousy and hate”! This was one of your good old-fashioned domestic murders, perfect newspaper copy. I wish Mrs. Kissel had exercised a bit more ingenuity in disposing of the corpse. Hong Kong, however, is a very crowded place, and a human body is a difficult thing to hide even in more spacious surroundings. Mrs. Kissel did her best, I am sure.
Everybody loves a good murder story. We have been short of them recently, though. None of the big stories of the past few years has fitted the classic mold. Both the O.J. Simpson and Robert Blake trials ended in acquittal, depriving us of the satisfaction of seeing the fell deed actually, judicially, pinned on someone. (Though we may yet hope that O.J.’s unflagging efforts to identify the real killer of his wife will be crowned with success at last.) The Scott Peterson case was moved out of the realm of comprehensible, if extreme, human behavior by the fact of the victim having been far gone in pregnancy. It is possible to feel some sympathy for Dr. Crippen or Mrs. Kissel, but no-one of ordinary human emotions can identify with an amoral monster like Peterson.
I had early instruction in the ways of murderers and the mysteries they often engender. The house I grew up in was halfway along a street at the southern edge of a small English country town. If you walked to the end of the street and crossed over the London Road, you were in open countryside, among woods, fields and hedgerows rolling away to East Anglia and the sea, interrupted only by Saxon villages little changed since they had been written up in the Domesday Book nine hundred years before. The nearest of these villages was Hardingstone, a standard-issue assemblage of pub, ancient church, thatched cottages, and manor house. (“vi sokemen and vi bordars have there iii ploughs…” — Domesday.) You got to this place via Hardingstone Lane, which meandered for half a mile or so under oak and chestnut trees, bordered by a moldering stone wall and a ditch.
Hardingstone Lane was the scene of a famous murder in 1930. From out of that ditch, at two o’clock of a November morning, Alfred Arthur Rouse popped up, to the surprise of two village men walking home from a dance in the town. “Looks as if someone’s had a bonfire,” said Rouse, referring to an unusual sight further along the lane: a blazing car, which the two villagers were contemplating with surprise. The car, it later transpired, was Rouse’s. Entangled with several women and sinking into debt, Rouse had decided to disappear. Befriending a stranger in a pub, he heard the man say he had no close relatives, and furthermore needed a lift to a northern city. Rouse supplied the lift and a bottle of scotch. When the passenger had drunk himself into a stupor, Rouse throttled him, parked the car, and torched it, hoping that the charred corpse would be taken for his own. Perhaps it would have been if he’d had the sense to stay out of sight in that ditch. He got away from Hardingstone, but was caught within days, convicted after a six-day trial, and hanged a month later. Justice was brisk in those days.
Nobody ever knew the identity of Rouse’s victim. There was, and I am sure still is, a marker for his grave in Hardingstone churchyard, a varnished wooden cross saying only “In Memory of an Unknown Man.” For decades afterwards – well into my own childhood – stories would crop up in the town newspaper, someone recollecting a relative or acquaintance who had vanished from the face of the earth in 1930.
“Vanished from the face of the earth”! How I used to thrill at that phrase, which I think I must have first heard in the context of the Rouse murder! It was what Rouse had hoped to do. It was what his anonymous victim had actually done, so far as those who knew him were concerned. I suppose some hundreds of persons vanish from the face of the earth every year, some deliberately, on the Rouse plan, some unwillingly, like his victim. Most of us have probably fantasized along these lines at one time or another. Some dismaying, but fortunately unguessable, proportion of us have contemplated, at least fleetingly, doing to a spouse the thing that Mrs. Kissel did to Mr. Kissel. Here are our own darkest midnight thoughts made real. No wonder murders bring us so much pleasure.
(SCMP) Kissel appeals her murder conviction. By Polly Hui. September 29, 2005.
Nancy Kissel, jailed for life early this month for the murder of her wealthy banker husband, yesterday lodged an appeal against the High Court ruling.
It is understood the grounds of the appeal are extensive, encompassing a number of the rulings during the course of the three-month trial. It will also challenge the summing up of the evidence and the directions given to the jury by the trial's judge, Mr Justice Michael Lunn.
The High Court confirmed that the papers were yesterday filed by the firm of Kissel's solicitor, Mallesons Stephen Jaques, but there were no further details. The prosecution said Kissel, 41, drugged Robert Peter Kissel, a senior Merrill Lynch banker, with a sedatives-laced milkshake before bludgeoning him with a heavy metal ornament in their luxury Parkview flat in November 2, 2003. His body was found rolled up in an old carpet in a storeroom in the Tai Tam complex.
Michigan-born Kissel admitted killing her husband but argued she acted in self-defence after he threatened to kill her and take away their three children.
A jury of seven unanimously found her guilty of murder on September 1. Mr Justice Lunn sentenced her to life, as required by law.
Kissel is now imprisoned in the Tai Lam Centre for Women in Tuen Mun.
The hearing of the appeal is expected to begin in about nine months at the Court of Appeal.
Meanwhile, the custody hearing over the three Kissel children between Jane Clayton, the victim's sister, and Hayley Kissel, his sister-in-law, will begin later this week in New York City. The children, who are under temporary custody of Hayley Kissel, will inherit up to US$18 million from their father's estate.
(AP) American appeals murder conviction. September 29, 2005.
An American woman has appealed a High Court decision that she murdered her banker husband by lacing his milkshake with sedatives before bashing his head with a metal ornament at the couple's Hong Kong luxury apartment, an attorney said Thursday.
Nancy Kissel, 41, was sentenced to life in prison September 1 at the end of a three-month jury trial involving sensational testimony about alleged sexual abuse, cocaine use and adultery.
Kissel's attorney, Simon Clarke, said "an appeal was filed by Nancy Kissel yesterday (Wednesday)." He declined to discuss on the record the grounds for the appeal.
"She is likely to have a hearing date probably in the middle of next year," Clarke said.
The prosecution said that Kissel had an affair with a repairman who worked on the couple's vacation home in the northeastern U.S. state of Vermont. Her husband, Robert, discovered the affair and had planned to seek a divorce just before she killed him in November 2003, the prosecution said.
She subdued her husband -- a wealthy investment banker at Merrill Lynch -- with a milkshake laced with the date-rape drug Rohypnol before beating him over the head with a metal ornament, the prosecution said. She rolled the body up in a rug and placed it in a storage locker the couple rented at their luxury apartment complex, the prosecution said.
Nancy Kissel said she killed her husband in self defense as she tried to fend off the baseball bat-wielding man during an argument. She said her husband was a cocaine-snorting, violent, short-tempered workaholic who frequently had forced non-consensual sex with her.
(Reuters) Banker's wife appeals HK milkshake murder conviction. September 29, 2005.
An American housewife jailed for life in Hong Kong this month for murdering her banker husband has appealed against her conviction, a judiciary spokesman and her lawyer said on Thursday.
A Hong Kong jury on September 1 found mother of three Nancy Kissel guilty of murdering her husband, Robert, in 2003, ending a trial that riveted the city with tales of rough sex, marital violence and adultery. She was sentenced to life in jail.
"She filed notice of appeal yesterday," the judiciary spokesman said.
A hearing will be held around the middle of 2006 when it would be decided whether or not her appeal goes ahead, her lawyer, Simon Clarke, said.
Kissel, 41, admitted killing the top Merrill Lynch banker, but pleaded not guilty to premeditated murder. Her lawyer argued she had acted in self defense after her husband had tried to sexually assault her and began beating her.
The prosecution said she had obtained various drugs from doctors and then gave her husband a strawberry milkshake laced with sedatives, including a date-rape drug. She then bludgeoned him to death.
(SCMP) US crime writer to cover Kissel murder. By Polly Hui. November 14, 2005.
US true-crime author Joe McGinniss is writing a book on the bizarre murder of Merrill Lynch banker Robert Kissel by his wife, Nancy Kissel.
The book, planned for publication in late 2007 according to a source close to the author, will tell the tale of a seemingly perfect marriage that ended in a bloodbath when the 41-year-old Michigan-born Kissel served her husband a sedatives-laced milkshake and bludgeoned him to death in their Parkview flat on November 2, 2003.
Kissel, now awaiting an appeal against her murder conviction and sentence to life in prison, argued in court that she acted in self-defence. She admitted her affair with a television repairman in Vermont, but claimed to be the victim of repeated sexual and physical abuse by her husband.
But the jury unanimously found her guilty of murder in September after a three-month trial that made headlines worldwide.
The story will also shed light on the victim's elder brother, Andrew Kissel, who faces federal charges that he defrauded millions of dollars, and is under house arrest in Greenwich, Connecticut.
The book, acquired by publisher Simon & Schuster, will mark McGinniss' return to the true-crime genre after a 15-year absence. The author will be working with the co-operation of the victim's father, William Kissel.
McGinniss began his career as a Philadelphia journalist. He is best known for his book The Selling of the President 1968 (1969), which provides a stunning account of the marketing of Richard Nixon during that presidential campaign. The book landed him on The New York Times bestseller list at the age of 26.
Another of his famous works, Fatal Vision (1983), chronicled the chilling murder case of Jeffrey MacDonald, a Princeton-educated physician who was convicted of slaying his pregnant young wife and their two children. His other books include Blind Faith (1989) and Cruel Doubt (1991).