The Nancy Kissel Case - Part 58
(New York Times) Police Reveal Few Details of Arrest in 2006 Killing Alison Leigh Cowan. March 25, 2009.
As his wealthy, pampered life as an ambitious real estate developer was caving in around him, Andrew M. Kissel grew close to the one person who had stayed with him until to the end: his chauffeur, Carlos Trujillo.
Nearly two years after Mr. Kissel was fatally stabbed, the chauffeur was arraigned on Monday in State Superior Court in Stamford on charges of conspiring to murder his former boss.
Mr. Kissel was found dead of multiple stab wounds in the basement of his Greenwich home on April 3, 2006, days before he was to plead guilty in federal court to fleecing banks and investors in his deals.
The police in Greenwich declined to discuss their latest theory of the case, or what led them to charge the driver, someone they had long believed was the last person to see Mr. Kissel alive.
While driving a limousine in Stratford, Conn., on Friday night, Mr. Trujillo, 47, was pulled over and arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit murder. The arrest warrant remains sealed. His cousin, Leonard Trujillo, 21, was arrested over the weekend in Worcester, Mass., on charges of being a fugitive in connection with the stabbing. He is being extradited as a co-defendant to Connecticut, where he will face additional charges of murder and conspiracy, the police said.
¡§This case is not over,¡¨ said the Greenwich police chief, David Ridberg, at a news conference on Monday morning. ¡§The investigation remains open, and we have a lot more work to do.¡¨
Deflecting reporters¡¦ requests for possible motives and an account of the killing, Chief Ridberg said, ¡§I know everybody wants a story, and it¡¦s a good story, and when the warrant is unsealed, you¡¦ll have it.¡¨
¡§I hate to say no comment,¡¨ he said. ¡§I¡¦m such a TV-driven guy. I know you want to have it all mapped out and have a ¡¥Law and Order¡¦ episode.¡¨
He said that the case was built ¡§incrementally, so there was no one particular ¡¥Aha!¡¦ moment that led to the arrest.¡¨
Standing before Judge Robin Pavia on Monday afternoon with his hands cuffed behind his back, Carlos Trujillo entered a plea of not guilty through his lawyer, Lindy R. Urso. A court-appointed interpreter translated the proceedings in Spanish for Mr. Trujillo, a native of Colombia. He was being held on $1 million bond and was due back in court on April 3. The judge said that prosecutors will have to release the arrest warrant by then or file a motion objecting to the unsealing.
Outside the courthouse, Mr. Urso said that his client was ¡§adamant he had nothing to do with it.¡¨
Later, he complained that the police had failed to follow other leads while his client ¡§has been scrutinized and followed and his phones have been tapped,¡¨ and everyone close to him had been pressured by authorities ¡§to tell them what they want to hear.¡¨
Neither Leonard Trujillo nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.
In 2006, Mr. Kissel was on house arrest when he was found dead in his large home on Dairy Road. His estranged wife had just packed up much of the house and left with the couple¡¦s two daughters. Creditors had been after him, and his belongings, including yachts and collectible cars, were being sold to settle his debts.
That led to some theories that the developer may have arranged his own killing to restore his family¡¦s wealth with the proceeds of a $15 million life insurance policy.
That policy remains the subject of pending litigation in federal court. The insurance company, Northwestern Mutual Life, has sued Mr. Kissel¡¦s widow, Hayley Wolff Kissel, in an effort to rescind the policy because it contends that Mr. Kissel obtained the policy through fraud by failing to disclose problems like his drug habit, which the police and others have confirmed.
Mrs. Kissel, who was divorcing Mr. Kissel at the time of his death, has countersued, contending that the company must honor the policy because the broker ¡§had full knowledge of the accuracy of all statements made in the application.¡¨
On Monday, Chief Ridberg did not rule out a murder-for-hire scheme orchestrated by Mr. Kissel to benefit his survivors. Even so, he said, the killer would be guilty of a homicide. ¡§It¡¦s not an affirmative defense,¡¨ he said.
Chief Ridberg added that the arrests were part of a joint effort by his department and 25 other law enforcement agencies, including federal Drug Enforcement Administration agents and the U.S. Army¡¦s military police in South Carolina.
(Times Online) Did Andrew Kissel pay his driver to murder him? James Bone. March 26, 2009.
Andrew Kissel's brother died in the infamous ¡§Milkshake Murder¡¨, when his wife served him a strawberry drink laced with sedatives before bludgeoning him with a statuette in their flat in Hong Kong.
A year later Andrew Kissel himself was found, bound to a chair and gagged, in a pool of blood in his Connecticut mansion.
Now police have arrested his chauffeur and the chauffeur's cousin for a killing that could prove even more bizarre than the Milkshake Murder: detectives are considering the possibility that this was a case of ¡§suicide-for-hire¡¨, in which Mr Kissel, 46, arranged his own death so that relatives could benefit from an insurance payout.
Mr Kissel, whose body was found in April 2006, was once a property tycoon who owned a $3 million (£1.5 million) yacht, a jet, a ski chalet in Vermont and a fleet of classic sports cars. But his life had been ruined by charges that he embezzled $3.9 million from the Park Avenue building where he lived and served as treasurer.
His wife, Hayley, a stock analyst and former mogul skiing world champion, had left him and he was about to plead guilty to multimillion-dollar fraud charges that could have sent him to jail for a decade. With creditors circling, his main asset was a $15 million life insurance policy benefiting his children, Ruth, then 8, and Dara, 6.
In making the arrests, police offered no motive for Mr Kissel's murder. But investigators refused to rule out an extraordinary ¡§suicide-for-hire¡¨.
¡§If it ends up being the case, that's fine,¡¨ David Ridberg, the Greenwich police chief, told a press conference. ¡§If it doesn't end up being the case, that's fine, too.¡¨ He said that the suspects would face murder charges and could not use ¡§suicide-for-hire¡¨ as a defence.
Carlos Trujillo, 47, who served as Mr Kissel's personal assistant and chauffeur for six years until the day of his death, was arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit murder in nearby Stratford, Connecticut. His cousin, Leonard Trujillo, 21, was arrested at his home in Massachusetts.
Police said that Carlos Trujillo, a Colombian immigrant, had been top of their list of suspects from the start. ¡§The information we had in the beginning was that he was the last one to see him alive so that seemed a natural place to start,¡¨ Mr Ridberg said.
The Hartford Courant reported that Mr Kissel had used the Trujillo family in financial transactions to hide his dwindling assets from creditors and his estranged wife.
As he was led out of police headquarters in handcuffs, Carlos Trujillo was asked if he had killed his former boss. ¡§No, I didn't,¡¨ he replied.
¡§I think Carlos is here because he is the easiest suspect,¡¨ Lindy Urso, his lawyer, told reporters.
The 2003 killing of Mr Kissel's younger brother, Robert, a Hong Kong-based investment banker, mesmerised the former British colony with revelations of his cocaine use and online searches for gay sex and bondage. His wife, Nancy, was jailed for life.
Andrew Kissel and his wife took in the couple's three children until their marriage also collapsed.
(MSNBC) Blood brothers Dennis Murphy. May 25, 2008.
This report originally aired Dateline Sept. 30, 2006, and repeated May 25, 2008. They grew up on a street out of a ¡¥60s family sitcom: Two New Jersey brothers Andrew and his kid brother Rob¡X riding bikes, playing touch football till it got dark. They were, oblivious, thankfully, to what fate had in store for them, the Kissels.
Danny Williams, childhood friend: It¡¦s unbelievable. It¡¦s just like out of a movie really. It¡¦s like a horror movie. On drowsy days the brothers played cutthroat Monopoly, passing "Go," piling up properties, and raking in the cash. And as grown-ups that¡¦s what both of them became, masters of real life Monopoly¡Xbuying big properties and savoring the perks that came with rolling the dice. They had smart marriages, splendid cars, vacation homes, even a mansion and a yacht. One brother, Rob, playing according to the rules.
Michael Paradise, Rob Kissel's college friend: He didn¡¦t necessarily want to just earn money. He was a very humble person in many respects. The other, Andrew, was taking shortcuts, the end always justifying the means.
Brian Howie: He never could kind of mesh the making of money with being happy. They weren¡¦t...it was like he was chasing something. But when it comes to tallying the winning and closing accounts, it isn¡¦t Monopoly but another rainy day board game altogether: Clue. It better speaks to their brief lives¡Xand deaths¡Xso eerily similar. Rob, in the bedroom, with a blunt object, and Andrew, in the basement with a knife.
And a story lies therein. It¡¦s a story of dizzying ambition that leads to Hong Kong¡Xthe smartest streets of Manhattan, and the backcountry of wealthy Connecticut. But let¡¦s start where it began, in that New Jersey suburb with Danny Williams, a boyhood friend who knew both brothers back when.
Danny Williams, childhood friend of Rob and Andrew Kissel: You know Andrew and Robert were two different people....
Rob, he recalled, as the better athlete, the friendlier of the pair. He was outgoing. Andrew, was a different cat altogether.
Williams: With people he was a little bit a little bit shy, I think. more shy than Robert, I think.
Dennis Murphy, Dateline correspondent: Did Andy have to work a little harder at being liked or likable than Rob? Did it come more easily to Rob?
Williams: Yeah, I¡K think that¡¦s exactly right. I think it did come easily for Rob. he was more approachable. Different as they were in temperament, they shared a gift for math.
Williams: I remember going to a Yankee game for example Robert, he¡¦d bring a pad and he¡¦d write all the stats down and he¡¦d keep records of who who¡¦s got the runs batted in and all that ... an you know Andy would do the same thing. There wasn¡¦t much doubt that the brothers would both turn to careers in business. Andy was the first out of the box with a retail car accessories shop. It was a bust.
Williams: I think he wanted it so bad. But the customers weren¡¦t coming in, you know? I think it lasted maybe a year and a half.
Always the more cautious younger brother, Rob set out on a more conventional path to success, college, then business school...
Michael Paradise, Rob Kissel's college friend: I think Rob was more studious and understood that it took a great deal of hard work to succeed. And I think Andrew was in a rush.
College Buddy Michael Paradise says he was struck by Rob Kissel¡¦s methodical approach to everything, studies, sports¡K even dating.
Paradise: He was attractive; he was funny; he was smart. He had a great future ahead of him, athletic. You can do down the list and check them off. And the woman who would become his fiancee was a fun-loving restaurant manager from New York City: Nancy Keeshin. Rob¡¦s college friend was there at the beginning in 1987 when Rob and Nancy¡Xboth in their 20s¡Xmet and made sparks during a Club Med vacation in the Caribbean.
Paradise: She was artistic. She was funny. She was friendly. She was outgoing. And she seemed to love Rob incredibly. In just a few years, the handsome young couple was married and started a family in the big city ¡X Rob, with his knack for tracking baseball stats, was a natural at the real thing: Wall Street banking. By the mid-1990s he was well into a career that would make him millions. Yet, New York neighbor Roz Lichter says Rob Kissel never lost his down to earth style.
Roz Lichter, New York neighbor: He wasn¡¦t flamboyant. I think what he was interested in was making that career you know, going up that ladder as an investment banker. If anything, says Roz, it was the missus who relished the perks of the job.
Lichter: Rob¡¦s wife Nancy was really into money. Loved money. loved money. And wasn¡¦t afraid of flaunting it either. The New York neighbor recalls one particularly catty remark from the banker¡¦s wife.
Lichter: One day she was wearing this great beaver coat. So I said, ¡¥Nancy, this is a great coat.¡¦ And she said, ¡¥It is a great coat... but you¡¦ll never be able to afford it.¡¦
Murphy: Is that what she said?
Lichter: Yeah. And I said ¡¥What a strange thing to say to somebody.¡¦
Murphy: You¡¦re giving her a compliment and...
Murphy: A little upside the head.
Lichter: Right. But if Nancy could be fast with a buck and a barb, her friend says conservative Rob was also quick to wag his finger at her. Liz Lacause remembers one incident between the couple.
Elizabeth Lacause, Nancy Kissel's friend: We would just be in the neighborhood and, you know, ring the buzzer to see if they were home. And we¡¦d go up and and walk in on them. And it was obvious that they had just had an argument.
Murphy: Obvious how?
Lacause: There would be a tension. And Nancy would kind of look at me and roll her eyes and say ¡¥money.¡¦ Hillary Richard, friend: She had a lot of clothes. She had a lot of shoes; she had a lot of nice stuff... Another friend, Hillary Richard, agrees that Nancy liked to strut her husband¡¦s success. But she says Nancy was also quick to share her good fortune¡Xbuying unexpected gifts for others. Though Richard does admit that, every now and then, a sudden, unpleasant streak would show itself.
Richard: She was one of those people who had the ability to basically cut someone out of their lives completely, entirely, absolutely... as if they no longer existed without what appeared to me to be much of a reason whatsoever. But was that ¡¥on-off¡¦ switch a simple quirk or a shadow of something more troubling? It depends whom you ask. One thing is certain, though: given time and just the right circumstances, Nancy Kissel, a fun-loving live-wire would give all who thought they knew her¡Xthe shock of their lives.
For a banker looking to score, Hong Kong was the place to be in 1997. Southeast Asia¡¦s currencies were in freefall and cash-strapped industries were eager to sell off assets for nickels on the dollar.
Rob Kissel¡¦s bosses at Goldman Sachs, the investment banker, wanted him there to pick up the fallen fruit.
Roz Lichter, Kissels' New York neighbor: Rob was just excited. This was an opportunity. So it was like he was just excited to be getting the offer.
Rob, Nancy and their two children, a three-year-old and an infant, packed up their stuff, said goodbye to friends and family. The ardent New Yorkers were about to become American ex-patriates and wealthy ones at that.
It was goodbye New York, hello Hong Kong. Their new home was a sprawling $20,000 a-month apartment in the luxurious Parkview towers. The two of them fit right into the ex-pat lifestyle here where the banker husbands like Rob earned millions of dollars a year, but worked 16 hours-a-day. And the banker wives, like Nancy, filled their hours with children and charity work. The Kissels had begun their great life adventure.
There was so much Hong Kong to explore, a clamorous city of 6.9 million people with business on its mind. But it was also Asia, culturally alien for some Westerners.
After a long day, the Kissels could retreat to the Parkview towers which was like America under glass.
Joss Gistren, fellow Hong Kong ex-pat: It really is like Disney world. It¡¦s kept green areas, pools, waterfalls¡Xrestaurants, tennis, driving range.
Dennis Murphy, Dateline correspondent: So it has all the resort amenities?
Gistren: It does. The tragedy is you can actually live at Parkview and not have to leave...
American Joss Gistren has lived at the Parkview for years. She never met the Kissels there... but understands the initial giddiness they would have felt in this shiny new world of limos¡Xworld-class shopping and endless pampering. She also knows the darker side of the adventure.
Gistren: What you find is that the husbands are never at home, even the ones that don¡¦t travel. They leave early in the morning and come home very late at night.
Murphy: So, the woman is isolated in many cases?
Gistren: Yes. The woman and the children are isolated.
But friends say Nancy Kissel seemed to make the best of it.
Hillary Richard, Nancy Kissel's close friend: She played tennis. She started a business. She had friends. She enjoyed it.
Close friend Hillary Richard vacationed with Nancy and Rob during those years. If the move half-way around the world had put stress on the Kissel marriage, she says, Nancy didn¡¦t let on¡Xquite the opposite.
Richard: She would speak on at great length about how wonderful and passionate her relationship with Rob remained. I mean I...
Murphy: She talked about life in bed sometimes, right?
Richard: She did absolutely.
Murphy: And things were okay?
Richard: Things were great according to her.
Murphy: She and Rob were a hot ticket, huh?
Richard: That¡¦s the way she portrayed it, yeah.
But every now and then, the veneer would slip, just a bit. Former neighbor Roz Lichter saw the Kissels on a home leave visit in 2000-- little more than two years into their time in Hong Kong and sensed something had changed.
Lichter: I couldn¡¦t connect to Rob ¡X he was working really hard, that he was tired. That would be the best thing. I didn¡¦t get a sense of joy when I saw him.
No wonder she saw fatigue. That two to three year Hong Kong stint was turning into a multi-year slog of meetings, deals and travel. Along the way, in 2000, Merrill Lynch wooed Rob away from Goldman Sachs, making him its top man in Southeast Asia. Rob, the golden son, was doing the Kissel family proud.
And he wasn¡¦t the only one. Brother Andrew was on a roll with his investment firm, buying and managing commercial properties around New York.
Andrew, now married to wife Hayley, a former ski champion and stock analyst, had bought a co-op apartment on New York¡¦s Upper East side and made it the showplace of the building.
Peter Chamberlain, Andrew Kissel's fellow apartment owner: I just knew him to be somebody who was involved in real estate transactions.
Fellow apartment owner Peter Chamberlain says neighbors were so taken by young Mr. Kissel with the golden touch that they tapped him to be their building¡¦s treasurer. He could break into their mutual piggy bank¡Xwith no questions asked.
Murphy: Is that unusual?
Chamberlain: Yes, that is highly improper.
As a fellow boardmember, though, Chamberlain could eyeball some of the books. And a little quick math told him the numbers there weren¡¦t adding up. He says he confronted the other board members and Andrew Kissel, a face off he lost.
Murphy: What did you think? At the end of that little bit of accounting, what did you think was going on?
Chamberlain:To be honest with you, frankly, I couldn¡¦t imagine that someone in our building would steal from us.
But someone was stealing¡Xwith both hands. Eventually, the rest of the board caught on and demanded answers from their treasurer. But if Kissel was a financial whiz, it seems he was also a master of the con.
Murphy: How much did he sting the building for?
Chamberlain: The number that gets floated around on paper is $4.7 million.
You might think that explosive discovery would land treasurer Kissel in a New York City jail. But that didn¡¦t happen. Somehow, from somewhere, he came up with the cash and paid back those missing millions. In return, he was allowed to leave unpunished.
Chamberlain: There are stories that people witnessed him on the cameras sliding out of the service elevator down to the basement and running down 71st street and 2nd avenue when the whole building became aware of the problems.
Murphy: Skulking away, huh?
And where does a disgraced millionaire skulk off to? Why Greenwich... Connecticut of course? It was home to big money.
But instead of contemplating his misdeeds, in 2003, Andrew Kissel was dreaming up more schemes and playing more dirty monopoly with other people¡¦s money. He wasn¡¦t the only Kissel in crisis mode, either. Half way around the world in Hong Kong, his younger brother was worrying about a killer pandemic and his family¡¦s safety. Sadly, it seems Rob Kissel was sweating over the wrong assassin.
In the spring of 2003, Andrew Kissel, lucky to be only spanked by the apartment neighbors he¡¦d swindled, continued buying up commercial and residential properties all over wealthy Connecticut.
It was about then that worrying news was coming out of Asia.
The airborne killer SARS had put that region on high alert including Hong Kong, where Rob and his family lived. There was no question Rob had to get Nancy and the-now three kids out of Asia. The natural safe haven was the Kissel family ski house in Stratton, Vermont. Rob, always the dutiful breadwinner, elected to stay in Hong Kong¡Xone of those fateful decisions.
Frank Shea, investigator: He wanted the confirmation. He was pretty convinced it was going on, but he wanted the evidence.
Frank Shea is a former New York City police detective-turned-private investigator. During that separation from his family Rob Kissel got that funny feeling -- the one that tells you your spouse is doing something they shouldn¡¦t. He hired Shea¡¦s investigators to survey his wife at the Vermont ski chalet. Shea called Rob in Hong Kong to report what they were seeing in real time.
Shea: This gentleman arrived in his van and parked on a dirt road and snuck into the house. I told Rob what was going on. He said...
Dennis Murphy, Dateline correspondent: Same time?
Shea: Same time.
Murphy: This is ongoing as we¡¦re talking?
That ¡¥gentleman¡¦ was Michael del Priore, a local TV/stereo installer. On the phone, Shea says Kissel took the news stoically, hung up and immediately called his wife. Minutes later, there was a stir in the Vermont house.
Shea: The male came out of the house, got in his van, and drove off. So Rob called me back at my house and he told me that he had spoken to Nancy. He didn¡¦t let her know that the house was being watched. He just said, ¡¥Nancy don¡¦t do anything stupid. We have the children. We promised each other we¡¦d get this back together.¡¦ It seemed she¡¦d been chastened. Nancy quickly returned to her husband in Hong Kong, presumably to work on the marriage. A month later, Shea received an email from Rob saying he was in New York for back surgery and that Nancy was with him. In fact, he was posing another job for the investigator, who obliged.
Shea: What we found then was that while Rob was in the hospital and during the course of this operation, she was seeing this gentleman.
Murphy: The same guy from Vermont?
Shea: That¡¦s correct.
This time, he says, the unwelcome news pierced Rob¡¦s tough guy exterior.
Shea: He was broken over it. He was broken up over it. But he said ¡¥Well, if I can just get her out of New York and get her back home,¡¦ he said. ¡¥We can work on our marriage.¡¦ Murphy: He thought this was a solvable problem, this relationship?
Shea: He really did.
By late August 2003, the couple was back in Hong Kong. At one point, Rob opened up about his troubled marriage in an email to his big brother Andrew.
Yet, no one on the outside was sensing the dangerous turn Rob and Nancy¡¦s lives were taking. No one, that is, except Frank Shea. At one point, 8,000 away, Rob told the detective something unsettling.
Shea: She would come home and have a two finger scotch, but the scotch was making him feel much different than he normally felt. It would make him feel woozy, disoriented, not something he was used to.
The former cop¡¦s instinct kicked in. Shea urged Rob, someone he considered now a friend, to rush a sample of the scotch to a lab for testing. Shea realized his friend might not do it. So he decided to do something extraordinary. He¡¦d pay Rob Kissel a visit at the exclusive China Club in Hong Kong to spell it out.
Shea: I sat down with Rob Kissel and I looked him right across the table at the China Club and I said ¡¥Rob, I think Nancy¡¦s trying to kill you.¡¦ Murphy: How do you react to that kind of thing? Your marriage may be on the rocks, but "she¡¦s killing me?"
Shea: He he took in my statement. He didn¡¦t say that he bought it 100 percent, but he really was concerned about his safety.
Still the urgency of it all seemed lost on Rob. Before he knew it, it was Halloween weekend, the end of one month and the beginning of another.
Rob Kissel never did send that sample out for testing. But he had made a decision. He was convinced that his marriage had broken down and he was going to ask his wife for a divorce. In fact, friends of the couple say they were supposed to talk about the split on that Sunday in November.
We know Rob Kissel spent the day with his three kids he was crazy about. At one point, his daughter gave him a pink milkshake¡Xmixed up by her mom¡Xa ¡§secret recipe¡¨ she called it, in the spirit of Halloween. It seemed at the time a cute gesture but not that significant.
He had to have had so much on his mind that afternoon: the impending divorce, the possible loss of his children ... and on top of it all, a critical conference call at home later that evening.
It was so important that a colleague phoned him to talk about strategy for the meeting. Hong Kong reporter Albert Wong says the colleague thought Rob sounded as though he were on another planet.
Albert Wong, Hong Kong reporter: He was just bizarre¡Xcompletely.
Murphy: Groggy? out of it?
Wong: Completely. Exactly.
Maybe stress was finally taking its toll on Rob Kissel. Or maybe something else was afoot. Maybe the goblins of Halloween had one more trick to play.
Feng Shui: For thousands of years, a great many Chinese have believed there¡¦s a life force that flows around us like wind and water. Interrupt it at your peril.
Take one of the most prominent skyscrapers on the Hong Kong skyline, the Bank of China.
Very bad Feng Shui, people will tell you because the building with its sharp edges like glass daggers restricts the life flow inside.
Bad luck comes to all within and near it whisper the believers.
It¡¦s not clear if Robert Kissel cared a fig for Feng Shui. But he was focused on the Bank of China¡X Albert Wong, Hong Kong reporter: In 2003, this was a huge market. I mean they were talking about billions of U.S. dollars.
Albert Wong is a reporter for the China Standard, a business newspaper in Hong Kong.
Wong: It was fiercely competed¡Xespecially with amongst Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, all the big ones.
But the Bank of China deal was fast approaching at the worst of times for Robert Kissel. Beneath the crisp business suit and tie, he was facing a personal crisis: his marriage was collapsing and he had reason to suspect his wife was drugging him...just as his private eye had warned.
Frank Shea: Almost every conversation. It was brought up that he was still having this disoriented feeling.
On the first Sunday in November 2003, Halloween weekend, a close friend and colleague called to discuss an important conference call on the Bank of China deal later that night. He said Kissel sounded sleepy and out of sorts. Reporter Albert Wong:
Wong: Completely groggy.
Dennis Murphy, Dateline correspondent: Not making sense?
Wong: Yeah. Exactly.
At first the friend didn¡¦t make much of it. But when Kissel missed the conference call that night and was a no-show at the office the next day, the friend called Nancy Kissel. She told him she and Rob were dealing with family issues. But as days passed, the friend suspected something more sinister at play and filed a missing person¡¦s report. Police inspectors later knocked on Mrs. Kissel¡¦s door. She let them in and explained her husband had walked out on her after a fight.
Wong: They don¡¦t suspect anything until they go into the bedroom. And he says that it¡¦s a gut feeling, just from experience.
Meanwhile, another team of inspectors was investigating reports of a strange smell coming from the Kissel storage unit. The police eventually asked Mrs. Kissel for the keys. After some hesitation, she handed them over.
Wong: As soon as they open the door, the smell was so overwhelming they knew straight away there was a dead body in there.
Murphy: They¡¦d found the missing husband.
40-year-old Robert Kissel had been rolled inside a carpet, padded with pillows and towels to contain the stench. Within hours, his wife was under arrest.
The city of dazzling lights was lit up even brighter by the juiciest story to hit Hong Kong in years: Nancy Kissel, fashionable wife of an ex-pat millionaire banker charged with his murder. In the backseat of chauffeured limos and over cappuccinos, the expat community savored each new morsel of the investigation. The body stuffed inside a carpet, whispers about a drugged milkshake. It was just a feast of speculation about the final days on Nancy and Robert Kissel.
Joss Gistren, fellow Hong Kong ex-pat: What would drive a woman to do this? Nancy has a reputation of being a fabulous mother¡Xvery active in the school, stable.
Gistren, a fellow expat at the Parkview apartment towers, says the story got husbands and wives fighting amongst themselves about what could¡¦ve gone so murderously wrong behind closed doors. 8,000 miles away, other old friends in New York were standing slack-jawed, too, wondering if they¡¦d heard the news right.
Roz Lichter, Kissels' New York neighbor: I was in the hallway going out and our neighbor said, ¡§You¡¦re not gonna believe this.¡¨ I said ¡§What?¡¨ you know, she said, ¡§Rob is dead and Nancy killed him.¡¨ You know the shock...
Almost overnight, Rob and Nancy¡¦s three children¡X a 9, 6 and 4-year-old¡Xhad become virtual orphans. Their father stuffed in the basement, their mother in custody for the foreseeable future. Quickly the children were returned to America, where they eventually wound up in the care of their aunt Hayley and fabulously wealthy uncle, Andrew Kissel, Robert¡¦s brother.
By this point, he was ensconced in a ritzy, Greenwich, Connecticut mansion, its impeccable facade hiding the sins within.
Michael Collesano, court appointed attorney for Rob and Nancy Kissel's children: I got the impression he was a wheeler-dealer.
Michael Collesano, the children¡¦s court appointed legal guardian, interviewed Andrew Kissel on the telephone, routine when recommending child custodians to the court. But the phone call went poorly.
Collesano: He wanted to tell me how rich he was. And I wasn¡¦t really looking to get from the conversation how rich he was. I was looking to get from the conversation that he was gonna be a good custodian to the kids.
Murphy: You weren¡¦t counting cars.
Murphy: Did you hang up the phone and think, ¡¥What a jerk¡¦?
Collesano: Maybe that¡¦s a little strong. But in hindsight, yeah.
But few people were focusing on the psychobabble of Andrew¡¦s money and self-identity issues. Not with a murder trial about to begin in Hong Kong. There was an outpouring of sympathy for the Kissel family that so brutally lost a son, a brother, an uncle.
But what about Nancy Kissel? One of the few old friends who¡¦d heard her voice was Elizabeth Lacause. Nancy called from her lawyer¡¦s office in Hong Kong.
Elizabeth Lacause, Nancy Kissel's friend: She was shaken. And she said; ¡§Oh, my gosh, you don¡¦t know. You don¡¦t know what I¡¦ve been through.¡¨
But Nancy Kissel was about to tell everyone -- from the witness stand, a shocking story that would blow the buttons off Hong Kong¡¦s smart set.
The sticky monsoon season was approaching¡Xhot and humid¡Xand in Hong Kong¡¦s courthouse, a murder trial to match the climate was about to begin.
Nancy Kissel was charged with the bludgeoning murder of her banker husband Robert.
Hong Kong couldn¡¦t get enough of it all summer long.
Albert Wong, reporter: For three months it was just intense.
Reporter Albert Wong says the headlines started from day one¡Xwith the defendant¡¦s dramatic new look. Investigator Frank Shea also attended the trial. He says the transformation of stylish Nancy Kissel was astonishing.
Frank Shea, investigator: I couldn¡¦t believe it was the same person. She had changed dramatically. She looked oriental. She had black hair.
Dennis Murphy, Dateline correspondent: As a defense strategy or as a way to appear to jurors?
Shea: I would say absolutely to appeal to the jury, to put a more local nature on her defense.
Also in the gallery, watching, stunned: Robert¡¦s father William and sister, Jane Kissel Clayton. Mercifully, perhaps, Robert and Nancy¡¦s children were thousands of miles away, in Connecticut with Uncle Andrew, shielded from their mother¡¦s unfolding drama.
And high theater it was. The prosecution outlining the case against Nancy Kissel in classic strokes: a calculating wife in love with another man, hungry for her husbands millions, unwilling to put up with a messy divorce. Before she killed him, prosecutors said, Nancy Kissel had trolled the Internet researching drugs to poison her husband.
Wong: I mean, right from the start, they say it was a cold-blooded killing. Simple as that and¡X Murphy: And it had been in the works for months and months?
Wong: For months and months¡Xpremeditated, planned. She wanted to kill him, take the children and go to the U.S.
Prosecutors also laid out the last hours of Rob Kissel in grisly detail. They said Nancy knew full-well her husband was about to ask for a divorce, so she launched a preemptive strike: she blended a pharmacy of drugs including the substance Rohypnol into a pink-colored milkshake and gave it to one of her daughters to serve to daddy.
Murphy: This is known as date rape drug in the States.
Wong: Yes, exactly date rape drug.
Murphy: Knocks you out, you can¡¦t remember details.
After drinking the pink shake, Rob Kissel reportedly played with his son for one last time and spoke on the phone with a colleague about that all-important, upcoming conference call. Prosecutors said that at some point, as the drugs kicked in, Rob Kissel got into his pajamas¡Xstaggered toward his bed and collapsed, unconscious, on the bedroom floor.
Then, said the prosecutor, Nancy pounced, a leaden family heirloom in her hand.
Wong: She took up this ornament. It was a heavy ornament, bludgeoned him five times. Each one could have been fatal and so with such a force that his skull bone broke and pierced his brain.
What happened next, prosecutors said, was a hasty and botched cover-up: a local upscale home furnishings store, Tequila Kola, reported how Mrs. Kissel bought new linens and carpets the next day and prosecutors added a gruesome detail not reported earlier.
Wong: The prosecution says she slept with the body for two nights. She locked the door Murphy: She slept with the body?
Wong: As in the same room. She told her domestic helpers don¡¦t bother to clean up the room while she continued changing the linen changing the rugs. And then eventually wrapping him up in the rug, tying it up and ordering removal men to take it to a storeroom.
As bizarre as the state¡¦s presentation was, it paled against what was to come. The defense started its case with a dramatic star witness.
It was Nancy Kissel¡¦s turn to tell her story in her own words. She took the stand, steadying herself on a rail as she teetered toward the witness chair. Then, in just a whisper of a voice, she turned the tables and put her dead husband Rob on trial.
Joss Gistren, fellow ex-pat, attended Nancy¡¦s trial every day...
Joss Gistren, fellow ex-pat: It was a very emotional moment. It was her chance to actually tell what she felt had happened.
And tell she did, describing in minute detail scenes from an abusive perverted marriage: How at night her husband did a Jekyll and Hyde¡Xpeeling off his conservative skin to snort coke and drink scotch ¡¥til he was smashed and how he routinely forced her into humiliating, rough sex.
Elizabeth Lacause, Nancy Kissel's friend: Her self esteem was probably absolutely nothing.
Liz Lacause says her friend was crying out for help¡Xfinding some temporary solace with a lover in Vermont.
Lacause: She wanted the loving husband, and she had that. And that fell away and then she had nothing.
On the stand, Nancy did acknowledge that¡Xat least on one occasion¡Xshe had sedated Rob to calm him down. Though she denied lacing her husband¡¦s milkshake that day with the five types of sedatives found in his body.
But for all her sordid testimony, Nancy Kissel¡¦s memory of her husband¡¦s murder was spotty, at best: she remembered acting in self defense¡Xher husband threatening her. But striking him five times with a lead statue? That was a complete blur.
Wong: He tried to pick a fight by mentioning divorce. He says, supposedly, ¡¥I¡¦m taking the kids. I¡¦m going.¡¦ and he¡¦s holding a baseball bat. And then eventually through a lot of shouting she gets dragged into the bedroom.
Murphy: A violent fight is underway?
Wong: Right and she goes blank.
On cross-examination, the prosecutor cut bluntly to the chase.
Wong: ¡¥Mrs. Kissel there¡¦s just one thing we have to get over and done with. You do of course, accept you killed your husband?¡¦ and she said ¡¥yes.¡¦ Murphy: Gasps in the courtroom?
Wong: Right. Gasps in the in the courtroom.
In the end, after three months of trial, the jury of five men and two women didn¡¦t buy the battered wife syndrome. Its unanimous verdict: guilty. Nancy Kissel would spend the rest of her life in a Chinese prison. Rob¡¦s friends in New York couldn¡¦t spare her much sympathy.
Roz Lichter, Kissels' neighbor: The legacy that she leaves to her children is she murdered their father and said he was a terrible person.
Hillary Richard: From a personal, level it didn¡¦t comport with any aspect of Rob I had ever seen. I hope the children don¡¦t believe what¡¦s been written and said by their own mother about their father. He loved them very, very much and I hope they can retain some little tiny shred of that as they get older.
Everyone hoped the children¡¦s healing could begin under the care of their uncle Andrew. But by then, he may have been too preoccupied with something else¡Xthere was yet another storm heading toward the Kissel family.
It was Shakespearean, almost Biblical, what was about to happen to the surviving brother. Surviving, but not for very long...
By the spring of 2005, nearly two years after the murder of his younger brother, Rob, Andrew Kissel was in a funk.
Friend and theater producer Brian Howie said not even a festive booze cruise on Kissel¡¦s yacht could cheer him up.
Brian Howie, Andrew Kissels' high school friend: There were parts of the trip where Andrew would be crying and you could tell he was deeply troubled and saddened.
Everyone assumed his grief was over the family¡¦s great tragedy. Rob, murdered by his wife, the children left behind.
But maybe the tears were for himself.
It seems Andrew¡¦s crooked monopoly game was catching up with him. He was about to draw the ¡§go-directly-to-jail-card.¡¨ As his family was sitting through a traumatic murder trial in Hong Kong, Andrew Kissel was making headlines back home here in Greenwich -- swindling his apartment neighbors in Manhattan was just a taste of what he had been up to according to federal authorities. In the summer of 2005 they arrested him, charging him with defrauding banks in a massive loan scheme.
Phillip Russell, Andrew Kissel¡¦s attorney: There was a great deal of evidence against him and there was a great deal of money that could not be accounted for.
Give or take 20 million dollars. Kissel¡¦s own attorney Phillip Russell says the alleged scheme went like this¡XKissel would take out a mortgage for a piece of property. Then forge another document to make it look like he had paid off the debt¡Xowned the property free and clear.
Russell: And then he went to a different bank and mortgaged the same property again so that there would be more than one loan on a single piece of property.
Bank fraud: If convicted of all charges, Andrew Kissel could have spent the rest of his life in a federal slammer. Not a rosy prospect for the guardian of his late brother¡¦s three children and heirs to his estate estimated at about $18-million dollars.
Murphy: He presented himself to you initially as a family man. Concerned about his brother¡¦s family...
Collesano, court-appointed attorney for Rob Kissel¡¦s children: completely upstanding...
Murphy: ...pillar of the community
Michael Collesano, that court-appointed attorney for Rob Kissel¡¦s children was incensed when he later realized that Andrew had conned him into believing he had the best interests of his nephew and nieces at heart.
Michael Collesano, court-appointed attorney for Rob Kissel's children: I believe he said that he had independently raised $100,000 in a separate trust for their well being.
Murphy: Was that true?
Murphy: So he just sat there and lied to you?
There was another worry for the children¡¦s lawyer: Behind the stately walls of Kissel manor, war had been declared. Andrew and his wife Hayley were splitting up in ugly fashion. Emails obtained by Dateline show Hayley venting her spleen to her husband¡¦s sister, Jane Kissel Clayton.
¡¥I just hate him!!!!!!!!¡¦ she writes. ¡¥He will never be a good, responsible person¡¨...it goes on to say ¡§do you know last night in bed i could actually see myself pummeling him to death and just enjoying the sensation of each and every shot...¡¨ Collesano: That¡¦s just one of the emails. There was a pattern of behavior there that clearly indicated a very stressful home and that clearly indicated to I think any reasoned person that the interest of the children weren¡¦t served by being in that home.
Andrew¡¦s sister, Jane, agreed. She petitioned for and was granted custody of the three children, she went so far as to make Andrew and Hayley¡¦s feud a matter of public record. Andrew, in retaliation, left a message on his sister¡¦s answering machine.
Andrew Kissel's voice message: Jane it¡¦s your ex-brother. You¡¦re famous, you¡¦re on the front page of the New York Times. You should get it. You¡¦re quoted. And we are going to bury you, Jane.
But Kissel was in no position to be slinging dirt at anyone.
His own attorney, Phillip Russell, says Andrew eventually cut a deal with federal prosecutors that included prison. In the meantime, he was home under house arrest, ticking off the days, watching TV with an ankle bracelet.
Howie: I would hear ¡¥good¡¦. He¡¦s happy, he¡¦s home¡K. he¡¦s, um, he¡¦s resigned to his fate...
Problem was, fate wasn¡¦t resigned to Andrew Kissel¡¦s plan. In April 2006, just days before he was due in federal court to confess his crimes, karma made a house call.
Andrew Kissel was alone in the Greenwich mansion. His wife, Hayley, and the two kids had moved out that Friday¡Xforced to leave after Andrew stopped paying rent. Movers were coming to clear out the rest of the furniture after the weekend. But when they arrived early Monday morning April 3rd, 2006, they made a ghastly discovery in the basement.
Police press conference: The body of Andrew Michael Kissel who was found dead within his residence at 10 Dairy road...
According to police, whoever murdered Andrew Kissel had pulled his shirt over his head and stabbed him multiple times.
A second Kissel brother¡Xdead¡Xa victim of foul play. He was 46 years old.
To date police have made no arrests or officially named any suspects.
But very un-officially there was an amateur detective theory floated that had a weird, appealing logic to it.
Howie: About a day after it happened, I thought he probably hired someone to kill him.
Friend Brian Howie says Andrew Kissel was broke, but he did have a hefty life insurance policy. He says Kissel may have loved his own children¡Xtwo daughters¡Xenough to pull off one last con¡Xagainst the insurance company. A policy that would pay off for murder, but not suicide.
Howie: Because if there was insurance money involved...he loved those children. And if he was going away for a significant amount of time, you know, money mattered in his world. So he wanted to see that they were taken care of.
But it¡¦s just conjecture. The murder remains a true ¡¥who-dun-it¡¦ in mystery game-board fashion. And while the police are asking the close-up investigator¡¦s questions: Who? Why?
Kissel family and friends are left with the cosmic ones. The unanswerable stuff: How did two brothers, so different in so many important ways, both end up discovered in basements in such grisly fashions?
The childhood friend from New Jersey doesn¡¦t know.
Dennis Murphy, Dateline correspondent: Here¡¦s one brother murdered by his wife, quite a successful guy.
Danny Williams, Kissel brothers' childhood friend: Right.
Murphy: And there¡¦s the other guy who wants to have the house and the yacht and all that, but runs a Ponzi scheme to keep it going.
Williams: And the sad thing is, he didn¡¦t have to do it that way. He was a great salesman. He could have done it on a legitimate basis. And maybe he wanted it fast, maybe he needed it fast.
Murphy: Some people would say the old adage: money is the root of all evil.
Williams: Right. Maybe the pursuit of money is the root of all evil.
It¡¦s natural for us to want to take the sting out of chaos¡Xmurder, cruel fates¡Xwith bumper sticker wisdom.
Well, maybe the Chinese, who¡¦ve been at the proverb business for centuries, have the one that applies to the brothers Kissel.
It goes, "Good luck seldom comes in pairs, but bad things never walk alone."
(New York Times) Developer Transferred Funds Before Death, Papers Show By Alison Leigh Cown. June 20, 2008.
Just before he was murdered two years ago, Andrew M. Kissel, the Greenwich, Conn., real estate magnate whose empire was collapsing, steered more than $350,000 to family members of the two men later charged in the killing, according to documents released Thursday.
The money and other valuables were funneled directly and indirectly from Mr. Kissel to his driver, Carlos Trujillo, lengthy arrest warrants that were unsealed in Stamford Superior Court contend. Though many passages were blacked out, the portions that were released suggest possible motives ranging from money to revenge.
Appearing in court on Thursday, Mr. Trujillo, 47, pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit murder. His cousin and co-defendant, Leonard Trujillo, 22, who is charged with murder, also pleaded not guilty.
According to police affidavits in the warrants, both men misled the police about many of their activities and had much to gain from Mr. Kissel¡¦s death.
According to the affidavits, investigators found evidence that Mr. Kissel, who was stabbed to death and whose body was found blindfolded and gagged in his basement on April 3, 2006, ¡§was liquidating his personal property and diverting the cash proceeds in an apparent attempt to prevent its seizure by federal authorities.¡¨
The affidavits state that the police found numerous transfers of money and valuables made to his driver, Carlos, to Carlos¡¦s younger brother, Jorge Trujillo, and to Stella Tafur. Ms. Tafur is legally the wife of Jorge Trujillo, but authorities say she has long lived with Carlos Trujillo as his spouse.
Ms. Tafur had been Mr. Kissel¡¦s longtime bookkeeper, and Jorge Trujillo had long worked as a property manager for Mr. Kissel¡¦s real estate business, but the authorities said he abruptly moved to Colombia in 2005, ¡§reportedly taking with him $200,000¡¨ from the company safe. Neither Jorge Trujillo nor Ms. Tafur has been charged in the Kissel case.
After movers discovered Mr. Kissel¡¦s body, they told the police that two days earlier they had overheard Mr. Kissel and his estranged wife, Hayley Wolff Kissel, argue over ¡§a large sum of money,¡¨ according to the affidavits, as well as jewelry belonging to Mrs. Kissel that she believed her husband had sold. Mrs. Kissel told the police that she had searched the house in vain for the valuables, while Carlos Trujillo, a witness to the argument, told the police that Mr. Kissel had confirmed to him that ¡§the money had been hidden within the house.¡¨
When the police arrived after Mr. Kissel¡¦s body was found, they did not find the money, but did find that a likely hiding place had been broken into.
¡§In searching the victim¡¦s residence on April 3rd,¡¨ the affidavits read, ¡§crime scene investigators located an access panel within the master bedroom closet which led to a crawl space.¡¨ The police said the ¡§lock mechanism used to secure the access panel was broken, indicating the panel had been forced open. The crawl space was found to be empty.¡¨
Another possible motive hinted at in the affidavits comes from an interview one of Mr. Kissel¡¦s employees gave the police. The employee told the police that Mr. Kissel treated his driver poorly and recalled an occasion when the driver went to Massachusetts for a family gathering, only to be summoned back to Greenwich by Mr. Kissel.
¡§Carlos was surprised to learn that the victim had recalled him from Massachusetts so that he could get him a hamburger at Wendy¡¦s,¡¨ the affidavit recounted. After one bite of the much-desired hamburger, Mr. Kissel explained he ¡§did not care for it and then sent Carlos out to get him a pizza.¡¨
(Bloomberg) Nancy Kissel's Murder Appeal Dismissed in Hong Kong. Bei Hu and Hanny Wan. October 6, 2008.
Nancy Kissel lost an appeal against a conviction for murdering her investment banker husband in 2003 for which she was imprisoned for life in Hong Kong.
Justice Michael Stuart-Moore announced the decision by the three judges who heard the case in the Court of Appeal today after almost five months of deliberation. Kissel, 44, plans to take the case to the city's Court of Final Appeal, her lawyers and family said.
Nancy Kissel was sentenced to life in 2005 for killing millionaire Merrill Lynch & Co. banker Robert Kissel, and hiding his body in a carpet in a storeroom. The prosecution said she drugged his milkshake then battered him with an ornament.
She admitted to killing him, saying he was abusive. Her lawyers appealed on grounds that she had been improperly cross- examined in the trial regarding statements made on her behalf for her bail application; the trial judge erred in allowing ``hearsay'' evidence based on conversations between Robert Kissel and various witnesses; the trial judge misdirected the jury on whether she acted in response to provocation.
``This was as cogent a case of murder as might be imagined,'' Stuart-Moore and fellow justices Frank Stock and A. R. Wright wrote in a 271-page judgment. ``In the welter of arguments and details that have been churned in the course of this case, both at first instance and upon appeal, the wood is in danger of being obscured by the trees.''
The Court of Appeal justices found no merit in those grounds and others raised by Kissel, the judgment said. There was ``no material misdirection or irregularity'' in the trial, and ``none would have affected the inevitability of a conviction,'' they wrote.
Nancy Kissel's mother, Jean McGlothlin, described herself as ``disappointed'' that her daughter didn't ``get more support from these three justices.'' Speaking outside the court building in a trembling voice, she added that her daughter hadn't received ``a completely fair hearing'' from the very beginning.
``We just do what we need to do next,'' she said. ``We know this case has merit in the Court of Final Appeal.''
Simon Clarke, a defense lawyer for Nancy Kissel, said the case might be heard in the Court of Final Appeal in six to nine months.
In the original murder trial, the prosecution pointed to the value of Robert Kissel's $18 million estate, made up of stocks, life insurance polices, cash and real estate. Nancy Kissel was the beneficiary of her husband's will and life insurance policies, prosecution evidence showed.
The Kissels were married in 1989 in the U.S. and later moved to Hong Kong. Nancy Kissel is serving her sentence at the Tai Lam Women's Prison in Hong Kong's New Territories, close to the Chinese border.
The Court of Appeal justices said there are no reasonable arguments against key ``central and clear'' facts, including that Robert Kissel consumed a milkshake before his death prepared by Nancy Kissel. Five drugs, including four prescribed for Nancy in the 10 days before the killing, were found in her husband's stomach.
Nancy Kissel obtained the drugs from two doctors without divulging to either she had consulted the other. She had searched Web sites for side-effects of drugs.
Nancy Kissel would be well provided for in the event of her husband's death and was having an affair with a man in the U.S. around the time of the killing, they added.
Baseball Bat Mystery
Nancy Kissel claimed she acted in self-defense against her husband who attacked her with a baseball bat. Yet she didn't mention the baseball bat to the police when she made a report and upon her arrest. Neither did she mention the baseball bat to her family, domestic helpers, a family friend, a doctor and a colleague of her husband's.
Instead, she told ``a variety of lies to all who enquired'' to explain Robert Kissel's absence, the judgment said.
Forensic evidence suggested Robert Kissel was lying on his bed when the fatal blows were dealt to his head. His body bore no sign of defensive wounds, the justices said.
Neither work colleagues, family friends and relatives on either side, nor domestic helpers were aware of Robert Kissel's alleged drinking, drug problems or past abuse of Nancy Kissel, they said. There was no mention of violence or sexual abuse in Nancy Kissel's diaries.
Nancy appeared in court today pale and clad in black. At the end of the session, she had to be helped out of the court room by two female officers.
Her mother described Kissel as ``very fragile'' and often transported in a wheelchair because of a knee problem. ``But her spirit is strong, her will is strong,'' she added.
The family and Kissel aren't allowed to communicate through phone calls though often write, she said.
The case is HKSAR v. Nancy Ann Kissel, case no. CACC414/2005.
(AFP) "Milkshake Murderer" loses appeal in Hong Kong court
An American woman sentenced to life in jail in Hong Kong for bludgeoning her banker husband to death after lacing his milkshake with sedatives lost her appeal against conviction Monday.
Nancy Kissel, dubbed the "Milkshake Murderer," was found guilty of killing her husband in 2003 after drugging him with a cocktail of sedatives in their luxury apartment in one of Hong Kong's most sensational cases.
In turning down Kissel's appeal against her conviction and life sentence, Michael Stuart-Moore, the Court of Appeal judge who presided over the case, said there was "no merit" in any of her grounds for appeal.
"This was as cogent a case of murder as might be imagined," said the written ruling of three judges, handed down by Stuart-Moore.
The crime, which unravelled as a heady mix of adultery, domestic violence, spying, greed and enormous wealth, gripped the former British colony and shocked the expatriate community.
Kissel, 44, who wore a black dress and dark-rimmed glasses, sat motionless for a few seconds after hearing the verdict. She needed the support of four security guards to prevent her from falling as she was finally escorted from the court.
Her mother Jean McGlothlin, flanked by a small group of Kissel's friends, said her daughter would appeal the ruling, this time to the city's highest court, in her ongoing battle for justice.
"We are very disappointed," McGlothlin told reporters outside court.
"We know that this case has merit. The sentence is not justified by the evidence ... The Court of Final Appeal is going to look at it with integrity and that's the way it should be discussed."
Kissel killed her high-flying husband Robert by adding the sedatives to his milkshake and then bludgeoning him to death with a family ornament.
The mother-of-three disposed of the investment banker's body by rolling it up in an old carpet, before hiring workmen to carry it to her storage room.
She continued to sleep in the same room as the body for several nights, according to court testimony.
Kissel's defence team painted her as a loving but long-suffering wife who had been subjected to regular sexual and physical abuse by a husband who abused cocaine and alcohol, and spied on her emails using special computer software.
During the trial, she told the court that her husband was trying to beat her with a baseball bat before the killing and that she was only acting in self defence. She also said that she had no memory of the series of cover-up activities she embarked on after the murder.
Prosecutors in the 2005 trial claimed Kissel stood to gain up to 18 million US dollars in insurance payouts from the investment banker's death.
Their case was that Kissel wanted to grab the money and run away with her lover, a TV repairman living in New Hampshire.
The Kissel family suffered a further tragedy in 2006, when Robert's brother Andrew was murdered in his house in Connecticut, found bound with multiple stab wounds.
The family's saga has become the subject of a book and even an American film showed on television.
McGlothlin said her daughter is very frail after three years of prison.
"She's often transported in a wheelchair. But her spirit is strong, her will is strong," she said.
(Reuters) Hong Kong court rejects "milkshake murderess" appeal. By John Ruwitch. October 6, 2008.
A Hong Kong court on Monday dismissed an appeal by American housewife Nancy Kissel who was jailed for life for murder after feeding her husband a sedative-spiked milkshake and clubbing him to death.
Kissel had admitted killing her husband Robert, a high-flying banker at Merrill Lynch, on November 2, 2003, but pleaded not guilty to murder, a charge which requires premeditation.
But a seven-person jury unanimously found the "milkshake murderess," as she came to be known, guilty after a three-month trial in 2005.
In the appeal, launched in April, her lawyers argued that she had been provoked into the killing, had acted out of self-defence and that the original judge had misdirected the jury while presenting his case summary before the verdict.
Her family said it would take the case to the Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong's RTHK radio said.
After cracking her husband's skull several times with a statuette, Kissel tried to dispose of his body by rolling it up in a carpet and putting it into a storage room, but the stench soon gave her away.
The sensational case inspired a crime book, "Never Enough," which painted an unflattering portrait of Kissel as a cold-blooded killer, who wanted to grab her husband's money and flee to the United States to be with her TV repairman lover.
The Kissel family suffered a fresh tragedy in 2006 when Robert's brother, Andrew, a property mogul charged with fraud, was found stabbed to death in his Connecticut home.
(AP) US woman loses appeal in 'milkshake murder' trial. October 6, 2008.
An American woman lost an appeal Monday of her conviction in a Hong Kong court for the beating death of her husband in a sensational case widely known as the "milkshake murder" trial.
Dressed in black, Nancy Kissel nodded her head and appeared to be holding back tears when a judge announced the decision in the Court of Appeal. Kissel, who suffered a knee injury in prison, limped out of the courtroom aided by two policewomen.
The 44-year-old housewife from Minnesota was convicted in 2005 of giving her husband a milkshake laced with sedatives in 2003 and then fatally bashing the wealthy banker on the head with a metal ornament.
Kissel said she was defending herself from an abusive husband and appealed the conviction and her life sentence in prison. But prosecutors argued Kissel was a cold-blooded wife who planned the attack in the couple's luxury apartment.
Defense attorney Simon Clarke said he was "very disappointed" but not surprised by Monday's ruling.
"This court doesn't uphold many appeals at all," Clarke said. "But we are expecting a better hearing at the Court of Final Appeal."
The three-judge panel said in a 271-page judgment that the original ruling was correct. "This was as cogent a case of murder as might be imagined," the decision said.
The judges did not give approval for the case to proceed to a higher court, and Kissel will need to apply for permission to get the Court of Final Appeal to hear the case.
The defendant's mother, Jean McGlothlin, said her daughter was fragile physically. But she added: "Her spirit is strong. Her will is strong. Her heart and mind are strong."
The sensational trial has made headlines worldwide because of its allegations of drug abuse, kinky sex and adultery in the wealthy world of expatriates in this Asian financial center.
Kissel said her then 40-year-old husband, Robert, an investment banker for Merrill Lynch, was an erratic whiskey-swilling workaholic who also snorted cocaine and forced her to have painful anal sex. She testified that she killed him as he was threatening her with a baseball bat in a quarrel.
During the appeal hearings, Kissel's defense lawyer said the woman suffered an abnormality of mind that substantially impaired her self-control.
But prosecutors argued that Kissel was a scheming woman who plotted to kill her husband. They said Robert Kissel of New York had been angry about his wife's affair with a repairman who worked on the couple's vacation home in the northeastern U.S. state of Vermont. He had planned to seek a divorce just before she killed him.
Robert Kissel's estate was worth US$18 million in life insurance, stocks and properties before he was murdered, prosecutors said.
(SCMP) Judges roundly reject Kissel's appeal. By Peter Brieger. October 7, 2008.
Nancy Kissel, the mother of two convicted of murdering her investment banker husband in a sensational case that captivated Hong Kong, has resoundingly lost her bid for a new trial.
The Court of Appeal yesterday rejected every one of the 44-year-old's arguments for throwing out her conviction and life sentence, and commended Mr Justice Michael Lunn for the way he handled her trial three years ago.
In their 271-page judgment, Mr Justice Michael Stuart-Moore and colleagues Mr Justice Frank Stock and Mr Justice Alan Wright rejected suggestions that Kissel was denied a fair trial.
The trio also heaped criticism on Gerard McCoy, Kissel's barrister, for advancing empty arguments - including accusations that the trial judge disparaged the defence case and spoke too quickly for jurors to understand his final instructions.
Mr McCoy did not return phone calls yesterday seeking comment.
"This is as cogent a case of murder as might be imagined," the judges wrote in their ruling. "In the welter of arguments and details that have been churned in the course of this case ...the wood is in danger of being obscured by the trees."
The marathon trial in 2005 heard how the marriage of American Kissel and her husband, Robert Kissel, who worked for US investment bank Merrill Lynch, had crumbled amid claims of abuse and infidelity.
Jurors were told how Kissel fed her husband a drug-laced milkshake on November 2, 2003, before bludgeoning him to death with a lead ornament. They also heard how staff at the luxury Parkview estate in Tai Tam where they lived unwittingly carried Robert Kissel's body from the family's flat in a rolled-up carpet.
Mr Justice Stuart-Moore told Kissel that the court had decided only four of her 13 grounds for appeal were worth hearing, and had then rejected those arguments.
"We found no merit in any of them," he said. "The appeal is dismissed."
Evidence at Kissel's trial discounted her claims of abuse, and she had told a multitude of lies to explain her husband's disappearance, the judges noted.
Simon Clarke, Kissel's solicitor, said outside court that his client planned to petition the Court of Final Appeal to hear the case.
"It was not unexpected for this court to dismiss the appeal - they dismiss most cases," Mr Clarke said.
But University of Hong Kong law professor Eric Cheung Tat-ming said the top court would hear a case only if an important point of law must be clarified or there was evidence of a miscarriage of justice.
"The hurdle is very high," he said.
Jean McGlothlin, Kissel's mother, said she still hoped her daughter's life sentence would be overturned by the highest court.
"I'm disappointed we didn't get more support from these three judges. Her sentence was not justified on the evidence," she said.
(Greenwich Diva) Nancy Kissel was granted a second appeal in the ¡§milkshake murder case¡¨ Claudette Rothman. February 10, 2009.
A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeal in Hong Kong granted a request to American Nancy Kissel, who was convicted of killing her husband in 2003, to file a second appeal before the territory¡¦s high court. Kissel was sentenced to life in prison for murdering her investment banker husband Robert Kissel, by lacing his milkshake with sedatives, then fatally bashing his head with a metal ornament.
The trial made worldwide headlines because of its allegations of drug abuse, kinky sex and adultery.
In the decision that was made by the panel today, the Court of Appeal sided with Kissel¡¦s lawyers that the trial judge improperly allowed statements from several friends to be submitted as evidence. Kissel, who admitted to killing her husband, testified that Robert was an erratic whiskey swilling workaholic who also snorted cocaine and forced her to have painful anal sex. The American couple and their three children moved to Hong Kong in 1997 for Robert¡¦s investment banking job. At the time of his murder, he was hired by Merrill Lynch to head its distressed assets business in Asia outside of Japan.
Court documents stated that Kissel killed her husband in order to be with her lover Michael Del Priore, who was a married electrical repairman, who had worked on her Vermont home. Kissel lost her first appeal last October. Robet Kissel was the brother of Andrew Kissel, the Greenwich, CT real estate developer, who was found murdered in his home.
(SCMP) Kissel wins bid to seek hearing in highest court. By Peter Brieger. February 11, 2009.
Nancy Kissel, the so-called Milkshake Murderer, has cleared a key hurdle in a bid to fight her conviction in the city's top court.
The Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that Kissel, 44, could petition the Court of Final Appeal to hear the case, four years after she was found guilty of murdering her investment banker husband Robert in a sensational trial that enthralled Hong Kong.
The mother of three, who was jailed for life, must now ask the city's highest court for a hearing.
Yesterday, a three-judge panel - Mr Justice Frank Stock, Mr Justice Michael Stuart-Moore and Mr Justice Alan Wright - said the American-born Kissel's case raised a specific legal issue of "great and general importance".
That legal point was whether prosecutors could cross-examine defendants about statements made by their lawyers at a bail hearing.
The ruling comes several months after the same judges quashed Kissel's appeal against conviction and rejected claims she had not received a fair trial.
But the trio agreed the legal issue raised by Kissel's bail hearing was a matter that should be heard by the Court of Final Appeal.
Kissel's lawyers told a November 2004 bail hearing that her mental state was normal, an opinion they weren't qualified to offer, barrister Alexander King SC said.
The prosecution later questioned Kissel about those statements to attack her claims of a mental breakdown, which the trial judge should have disallowed, Mr King told the court before its ruling.
Kissel could be granted a fresh trial if the top court, after agreeing to hear the case, was convinced that the bail hearing dealt her a "grave or substantial injustice".
"Our position is that [those statements] can never be the subject of cross-examination," Mr King told the hearing. "There was plenty of admissible evidence upon which the prosecution could argue to the jury that Mrs Kissel's mental state was normal and her allegation of meltdown, and amnesia, was something she had made up."
Kissel's lawyers argued that she had lashed out in a rage against an abusive, cocaine-addicted husband.
The marathon trial in 2005 heard how Kissel fed her husband, a senior executive at US investment bank Merrill Lynch, a drug-laced milkshake on November 2, 2003, before bludgeoning him to death with a heavy ornament.
(The Standard) `Milkshake Murderer' heads for top court. By Paul Mozur. February 11, 2009.
"Milkshake Murderer" Nancy Kissel, serving a life sentence for bludgeoning her wealthy banker husband to death after lacing his milkshake with sedatives, has won the right to take her case to Hong Kong's highest court.
The Court of Appeal yesterday granted leave for the American mother of three to take her case to the Court of Final Appeal. The top court should review whether statements made during November 2004 bail proceedings, which indicated her state of mental health was "normal," should have been used by the prosecution during her trial, appeal judges said.
She was convicted in 2005 of beating high-flying banker Robert Kissel to death with a metal ornament while he lay drugged.
Kissel's defense, led by Alexander King SC, argued that because the comments were made during a bail hearing - which has different rules than an open trial - the evidence was not admissible and affected the fairness of the trial.
Black-clad Kissel, 44, was helped into the courtroom yesterday. She appeared calm and smiled as she spoke with an acquaintance at the hearing.
It will take months before it goes to the Court of Final Appeal, lawyers said. Once there the court will first rule on whether the use of material from the bail hearing comprises a point of law.
If the court finds that it does, it will then hear whether the point of law formed a grave and substantial injustice against Kissel.
The findings of the court could lead to a retrial, among other outcomes.
Kissel's first appeal in October was rejected when judges said they found no merit in the points raised by her lawyer, Gerard McCoy SC. King said he had been notified on Lunar New Year's Eve to replace McCoy who was not available.
Justices Michael Stuart-Moore, Frank Stock and Alan Wright expressed their discontent over the way the defense had handled the appeals. "Three times we have used our memories and gotten together, this is not a courteous way of treating the court. Our time is wasted," the judges said.
They added: "Of course, we have to address the points raised, but this is not the way for people with a lot of work to do to be treated."
(thadian.com) Andrew Kissel¡¦s murder trial delayed May 29, 2009.
Carlos Trujillo case¡¦s jury selection was set for Wednesday, but due to new developments in the case, it had to be rescheduled. Carlos Trujillo and his cousin Leonard Trujillo are to be tried on the charges of the murder of the Greenwich real estate mogul, Andrew Kissel in 2006. The delay came about because the Assistant State¡¦s Attorney, Paul Ferencek requested the court to be granted more time. The negotiation came about after talks of a plea deal with the co-defendant, Leonard Trujillo.
Andrew Kissel was found bound and gagged, stabbed to death in the basement of his backcountry mansion on Dairy Road. The murder took place just days before he was to plead guilty on federal fraud charges. It was only in 2008 that the Trujillos were arrested in connection with the Kissel murder charges.
Paul Ferencek told Judge Richard Comerford, in State Superior Court in Stamford, that Leonard Trujillo¡¦s attorney, Mark Sherman had been in talks with him regarding resolving the case before his client is set for trial. Leonard, 22, is charged with capital murder and first-degree murder charges. Carlos Trujillo, 48, is facing charges of conspiracy to murder. His attorney, Lindy Urso is arguing that his client does not face harassment in light of the new development.
Kissel¡¦s brother, Robert Kissel was murdered by his wife, Nancy Kissel on November 2, 2003 in Hong Kong. He was given a milk shake laced with poison before getting battered to death. The lives of the Kissel brothers and their tragic deaths have been captured in reel, in a film called, ¡§The Two Mr. Kissels¡¨. They will come alive again in a documentary, ¡§Doubly Doomed¡¨, narrated by actor Stacey Keach and produced by Kurtis productions.
(Greenwich Time) Kissel trial schedule could taint jurors By Debra Friedman. June 11, 2009.
With the summer promising back-to-back murder trials stemming from the 2006 slaying of real estate developer Andrew Kissel, legal experts say the unconventional method of jury selection could present major problems.
More than half of the jury has been selected for Carlos Trujillo's trial, but evidence won't be presented until mid-August. By that time, co-defendant Leonard Trujillo already will be through with his trial, which starts Tuesday, and some say the odd schedule in such a major case may inevitably taint the jurors.
"It seems strange to me that they are picking a jury now for a trial to commence in August," said Steven Duke, a professor at Yale Law School. "That jury will read all about the case during the June trial and may be contaminated by it."
Carlos Trujillo, 48, of Bridgeport, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder. His cousin Leonard Trujillo, 22, of Worcester, Mass., is charged with murder, capital felony and conspiracy to commit murder. Kissel was found stabbed to death in his backcountry mansion in April 2006, days before he was to plead guilty to federal fraud charges.
Although jurors have been instructed by a judge not to read about the case, Stamford-based defense attorney Matthew Maddox said that will be nearly impossible as national media outlets will likely cover both trials.
Maddox said in many cases in Stamford, juries are selected, but the evidence portion of the trial doesn't begin immediately, a process known as stacking. Doing so for such a high-profile case creates many problems, mainly because it could affect the opinion of jurors, Maddox said.
"I think that even in a case with little to no notoriety, it prolongs the inconvenience to jurors, but in this case in particular, it is completely unrealistic," said Maddox. "Jurors that are being selected for Carlos Trujillo's jury would have to be sequestered in order not to hear or see anything about the Leonard Trujillo trial."
Criminal defense attorney Jeffrey Chartier, who is based in Bronx, N.Y., but handles many cases in Stamford, called the scenario troubling. "It's a misuse of the court system and a strategy to defeat justice," Chartier said. "It's impossible for a normal human being not to be in their car listening to a radio or watch something inadvertently about the case. And once the bell is rung, no matter what instructions you give them, that bell is extremely difficult to un-ring."
Carlos Trujillo's jury selection began in early June to satisfy his speedy trial rights because state law says every person arrested and held in custody is entitled to a trial within eight months of the date of their arrest. Attorneys said the state has traditionally held that a client's speedy trial rights are satisfied as soon as the first juror is selected, no matter when the evidence portion of the trial begins.
Prosecutors have aimed to try the cases in this order since the beginning, claiming they need Leonard Trujillo to testify against his cousin. But the defense has said the state's strategy shows it has a weak case against both defendants.
While the court may have been trying to fulfill Carlos Trujillo's right by starting jury selection in June, however, some say it could be grounds for an appeal if either were convicted -- although proving a jury was swayed might prove difficult. "Both defendants will have some claims about tainted juries, but these claims rarely succeed," said Duke. "It would definitely be grounds for an appeal if they were convicted, if a juror went through a canvas but did not disclose something," said Chartier, classifying that appeal as juror misconduct.
Maddox explained that in a stacked jury situation, attorneys on both sides have the opportunity to question jurors before they come back to sit on the case. Anyone who admits to reading about the case can be asked to leave. However, Maddox said that in big cases like this, some jurors may not tell the whole truth because they are eager to sit on the case. "You will have some jurors, particularly in high-profile cases, who are going to be really anxious to take the ride, even if they have seen something that impacted their objectivity," said Maddox. "This is the great concern about a high-profile case, jurors kind of become temporary celebrities."
Chartier agreed, noting that many jurors foresee profit after sitting on big cases. "Jurors perceive the possibility at the end of the case," said Chartier. "Whether they are enriched by book deals or become celebrities for 5 minutes, it's a situation why some people would want to remain on the jury and not be 100 percent candid."
Duke said since jurors would have been asked questions about their knowledge of the case before being picked, the court usually does not buy the argument that they were swayed after the fact. "The jurors would lack credibility having sworn earlier that they did read or hear press coverage. They would subject themselves to a perjury charge if they did so," Duke said.
Maddox said he is sure both defense attorneys will try to ensure their clients are getting a fair shake. "I would imagine council in both these cases will be paying keen attention to what these people are saying after trial," Maddox said.
(Associated Press) 1 charge dropped in Greenwich mystery killing. June 17, 2009.
Connecticut prosecutors have dropped one charge against a Massachusetts man, one of two men accused of killing Greenwich real estate mogul Andrew Kissel. Prosecutors Tuesday dropped the capital felony charge against 22-year-old Leonard Trujillo of Worcester, Mass., just before the beginning of jury selection. The dismissal of the charge means a jury can consider less than a mandatory punishment of life in prison for Trujillo. Forty-eight-year-old Carlos Trujillo of Bridgeport, who was the Kissel family chauffeur, is accused of hiring his cousin to kill Kissel in April 2006.
In 2006, Kissel was found stabbed to death in his home just days before he was to plead guilty in a multimillion-dollar fraud case. Leonard Trujillo¡¦s lawyer has suggested that Kissel¡¦s death was a suicide-for-hire.
(Associated Press) Judge: Document release may jeopardize Conn. case July 2, 2009.
The trial of a man charged in the killing of a Connecticut real estate mogul could be in jeopardy because a copy of a defense motion pointing blame at the developer's ex-wife that was released to the public may have contained sealed documents, a judge said Thursday.
Mark Sherman, an attorney for 22-year-old Leonard Trujillo of Worcester, Mass., filed a motion to introduce evidence he says implicates Hayley Wolff in the 2006 stabbing death of Andrew Kissel of Greenwich. The Greenwich Time obtained a copy from the court clerk's office on Wednesday.
Prosecutor Paul Ferencek says the motion released to the newspaper contained some documents that were supposed to be sealed from public view, but Sherman disagrees.
Stamford Superior Court Judge Richard Comerford said Thursday he is loathe to keep anything from the press, but wanted to review the motion to see if it contains any sealed items.
"We have the press in here demanding copies of things that I have not even seen yet," Comerford said.
A message was left with Wolff's lawyer Thursday. She has denied any involvement in Kissel's death.
Trujillo's murder trial is set to begin July 13. His cousin, Carlos Trujillo of Bridgeport, who was Kissel's chauffeur, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder. Authorities say Leonard Trujillo was hired by his cousin to kill Kissel.
Kissel was found stabbed to death in his home just days before he was to plead guilty in a multimillion-dollar fraud case. Leonard Trujillo's lawyer has suggested that Kissel's death was a suicide-for-hire.
Comerford criticized Sherman in court Thursday, saying if there was sealed information in the motion "the whole trial may be in jeopardy."
Sherman's 77-page motion centers on Wolff's alleged hatred of her ex-husband, including an e-mail in which Wolff admitted having thoughts about "pummeling" Kissel to death.
The motion also notes that Kissel's $15 million life insurance policy was at stake, claims Wolff checked on the policy shortly before Kissel's death and says there was no forced entry into the home.
The motion includes as addendums several documents, including a search warrant application by police that cited the couple's acrimonious divorce, and Wolff's failure to cooperate with authorities.
It also includes investigator's notes in which a detective wrote that Wolff "did not seem to shaken," with the news of a death in the house and seemed to know the victim was Kissel, before police told her.
According to the notes, Wolff told police that she informed her eldest daughter days before the murder that "she may not see Daddy again."
"She told me that she realized that her husband was probably going to kill himself or have somebody do it since he was Jewish and it was against his religion," the detective wrote.
The detective also wrote about a phone call Wolff had received from her boyfriend while being interviewed by police. She told police her boyfriend had called to console her. The detective asked how the boyfriend knew of the situation, and Wolff told him that she had told him about it earlier.
Kissel's brother, Robert, was a wealthy banker who was poisoned and beaten to death in Hong Kong in 2003. His wife was convicted of murder in the case that became known as the "milkshake murder." Authorities said she fed him a strawberry milkshake laced with poison and bludgeoned him with a statue. She was sentenced to life in prison in 2005.
(Associated Press) Judge to rule on defense motion in Kissel case July 3, 2009.
A judge is expected to rule Monday on whether lawyers for a Massachusetts man charged in the killing of Greenwich real estate mogul Andrew Kissel can present evidence implicating Kissel¡¦s ex-wife. Defense attorneys for 22-year-old Leonard Trujillo of Worcester filed papers last week in Stamford Superior Court asking permission to introduce the evidence. Judge Richard Comerford said Thursday he will review the motion to see if it contains any sealed items.
Prosecutors say Trujillo was hired by his cousin, Kissel¡¦s former chauffeur, to kill Kissel. The defense motion centers on the hatred Kissel¡¦s ex-wife, Hayley Wolff, allegedly had for Kissel. It claims she checked his life insurance policy shortly before his death. Wolff has denied any involvement in Kissel¡¦s death.
Testimony in the trial is set to begin July 13.
(Associated Press) Plea deal in Conn. millionaire slaying case July 10, 2009.
A Massachusetts man pleaded guilty Friday to manslaughter and conspiracy to commit murder in the 2006 stabbing death of a millionaire Connecticut developer accused of real estate fraud.
Leonard Trujillo, 23, of Worcester, agreed to the plea deal on the eve of his trial. Prosecutors dropped a murder charge against him under the condition he would testify against his cousin Carlos Trujillo, the developer's chauffeur, if necessary during an upcoming trial.
Andrew Kissel was found stabbed to death in his Greenwich home just days before he was to plead guilty in a multimillion-dollar fraud case. Carlos Trujillo, 48, of Bridgeport, is charged with conspiracy to commit murder.
Leonard Trujillo's attorney, Mark Sherman, said that under the plea deal, his client admitted planning the killing, but not carrying it out.
"The whole point of this plea is the state recognizes he did not kill this man," Sherman said. "He was paid by his cousin to do this crime. But he did not kill Andrew Kissel."
Leonard Trujillo is expected to be sentenced to 20 years in prison following the trial of his cousin. Sherman said he will be able to get out of prison in 17 years.
"As a father of two young children, he will still have a lot of years to enjoy them," Sherman said.
Lindy Urso, Carlos Trujillo's attorney, said his client continues to maintain his innocence.
"He's looking forward to his day in court," Urso said. "Carlos has been consistent throughout that he had absolutely nothing to do with this."
Urso said he expects prosecutors to upgrade the charge against his client to murder based on his cousin's plea deal. Urso said he's not sure why Leonard Trujillo agreed to a deal, but said he may have panicked at the long prison sentence he faced if convicted at trial.
A telephone message was left Friday for prosecutor Paul Ferencek.
Kissel's brother, Robert, was a wealthy banker who was poisoned and beaten to death in Hong Kong in 2003. His wife was convicted of murder in the case that became known as the "milkshake murder." Authorities said she fed him a strawberry milkshake laced with poison and bludgeoned him with a statue. She was sentenced to life in prison in 2005.
(Greenwich Post) Kissel driver¡¦s cousin cops plea, faces 17 years in prison July 16, 2009.
Just days before the first trial was to begin, the case against the two men accused of killing Greenwich resident Andrew Kissel was thrown for a loop when Leonard Trujillo reached a plea bargain with prosecutors.
Mr. Trujillo, a 23-year-old Worcester, Mass., resident, pleaded guilty to charges of first degree manslaughter and conspiracy to commit murder after having originally been charged with murder, capital murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with Mr. Kissel¡¦s 2006 death. He will be sentenced on Sept. 11 and his attorney, Mark Sherman, said his client will serve 20 years in prison, with the likelihood of being paroled after 17.
Mr. Trujillo entered his changed pleas last Friday, just before the trial was supposed to begin this past Monday in Stamford Superior Court. Mr. Sherman told the Post the agreement came together quickly.
¡§After a lot of consideration, the state came to a plea deal where he would not be charged with murder,¡¨ Mr. Sherman said on Tuesday. ¡§That opened up a lot of doors for the sentencing options.¡¨
The State¡¦s Attorney¡¦s Office could not be reached for comment. The plea agreement was entered under the Alfred Doctrine, by which Mr. Trujillo may indicate he is pleading guilty because he believes he will be convicted, but still disputes some or all of the allegations against him.
The plea agreement will have a direct impact on the case against Carlos Trujillo, Leonard Trujillo¡¦s cousin, who had worked as Mr. Kissel¡¦s driver and personal assistant. Carlos Trujillo¡¦s trial is set to begin Aug. 10, but his attorney, Lindy Urso, told the Post Monday that the charges against his client will likely be withdrawn and then new charges, likely murder, will be filed. Previously, Carlos Trujillo had been charged only with conspiracy to commit murder.
The Aug. 10 date still stands for the trial, but Mr. Urso said everything will have to be pushed back now since a jury had already been selected and will likely have to be dismissed because of the new charges as everything starts over again. He said he was ¡§99% certain¡¨ that things will now have to be changed.
¡§This will essentially start the case over again,¡¨ Mr. Urso said. ¡§It will bring everything back to square one.¡¨
Carlos Trujillo is still in custody and Mr. Urso said he has not had a chance to meet with his client to discuss the impact Friday¡¦s events will have. He said he expects to be able to do that this week, but that nothing has changed as far as his client¡¦s not guilty plea.
¡§He is still adamant that he had nothing to do with this,¡¨ Mr. Urso said. ¡§This doesn¡¦t change anything as far as he is concerned.¡¨
Mr. Sherman said that while his client has maintained he did not commit the murder, he has never proclaimed his innocence in the case. In open court, a scenario was discussed in which Carlos Trujillo offered his cousin $10,000 and a computer to commit the murder, and supplies, including a knife, were purchased. But Mr. Sherman said his client does not know what led to the death of the Greenwich real estate developer, who had just gone through a divorce and was facing jail time as he was scheduled to plead guilty in a multi-million dollar fraud case in New York City days after he was killed.
Mr. Kissel was found in his home stabbed to death. No arrests were made in the case until 2008. While the state had originally charged Leonard Trujillo as the actual killer, prosecutors now claim he was involved in the plot but backed out before it actually came to fruition. The felony murder charge, which had carried with it the possibility of the death penalty, was withdrawn by the state last month.
Leonard Trujillo is expected to testify at his cousin¡¦s trial if called by prosecutors, but Mr. Sherman said his client will say he was not involved in the killing and that he was not at the scene when it happened. Mr. Sherman said his client made ¡§poor choices¡¨ but he was not involved in the actual plot to kill Mr. Kissel and doesn¡¦t know why the man was killed.
¡§When Lenny gets out of jail he will still be a young man in his 30s,¡¨ Mr., Sherman said. ¡§He will be able to reconnect with his children and he¡¦ll still have life left to live.¡¨
Mr. Urso said Leonard Trujillo¡¦s plea deal was ¡§bizarre¡¨ but he had seen it before.
¡§This isn¡¦t the first time someone has pleaded guilty to something they didn¡¦t do right on the eve of trial,¡¨ Mr. Urso said. ¡§It¡¦s clear the pressure of facing life in prison got to this young man and he pleaded guilty to something that he didn¡¦t do.¡¨
(Greenwich Time) Suspect charged with murder in Greenwich real estate developer's death By Debra Friedman. July 30, 2009.
The former driver for slain real estate developer Andrew Kissel has been re-charged with murder two weeks before he was to go to trial on a conspiracy to commit murder charge. Carlos Trujillo, 48, of Bridgeport, was arraigned on a murder charge in state Superior Court Thursday. The conspiracy charge was dismissed. Trujillo now faces 60 years in state prison if convicted. He previously faced 20 years. The change in charges comes two weeks after Trujillo's cousin, co-defendant Leonard Trujillo, 23, of Worcester, Mass., pleaded guilty to reduced charges of manslaughter and conspiracy to commit murder.
Prosecutors dropped the charge of murder in exchange for Leonard Trujllo's cooperation in Carlos' case. "I had a missing witness," Senior Assistant State's Attorney Paul Ferencek told the court regarding Leonard Trujillo. "Now I have that witness."
Ferencek said after the hearing that he had to start the case over from square one because a jury had already been selected for the conspiracy charge. "Because we had already picked a jury on the conspiracy charge, I was not permitted to amend a new charge and that's why I had to initiate a new prosecution," said Ferencek.
A new arrest warrant was issued for Trujillo. The warrant remains sealed.
Kissel was found stabbed to death in his backcountry mansion in April 2006.
Stamford attorney Lindy Urso was appointed as Trujillo's special public defender. He has been representing Trujillo since his initial arrest in March 2008. "The only surprise here is that this didn't happen earlier," said Urso following the hearing. "I just think without the cooperation of the co-defendant, they essentially had nothing against my client. As far as Carlos, nothing has changed. He is very much looking forward to his trial." Urso has maintained his client's innocence since the beginning. However, when Leonard Trujillo pleaded guilty July 10, prosecutors outlined a murder plot between the two cousins they allege resulted in Kissel's gruesome death.
Ferencek said that Leonard Trujillo told police he was given $11,000 and a computer by his cousin as an incentive to kill Kissel. Leonard Trujillo also told police he purchased a knife, visited Kissel's home and bought duct tape used in the crime, prosecutors said. Leonard Trujillo maintains he cut off all contact with Carlos Trujillo prior to the slaying and did not kill Kissel. Ferencek has been trying to gain Leonard's cooperation from the start in order to pin the bulk of the blame for the crime on Carlos Trujillo.
"Leonard's motive was cash," said Ferencek, regarding his part in the plot, but he would not comment on what Carlos Trujillo's motive may have been for the slaying. Ferencek also would not reveal whether the prosecution believes the slaying was a suicide-for-hire or if Carlos is believed to have stabbed Kissel or just aided in the crime. "I'm not going to comment on the facts in the case," said Ferencek.
Carlos Trujillo has not entered a plea. He is scheduled to appear again in state Superior Court on Aug. 25, when he is to decide whether he wants to waive his right to a probable cause hearing. Urso said he will not be filing a speedy-trial motion as he did in the prior case and expects the trial to happen sometime between November and February.
Ferencek said the state is ready to try the case right away. "We are ready to go and hoping this trial takes place in the early to mid-fall," said Ferencek.