Kissel Schemed Before Murdering Husband in Hong Kong, Prosecutor Says

Nancy Kissel schemed for months before murdering her Merrill Lynch & Co. banker husband and did not suffer from a depressive disorder, a prosecutor said.

“The defendant acted with thought, deliberation and calmness over a period of months, days and weeks,” David Perry, representing Hong Kong’s Department of Justice, said today in the city’s High Court of First Instance in his closing statement to the jury. “She realizes the only way to avoid responsibility for murder is to lie.”

Kissel, 46, is being retried after Hong Kong’s highest court quashed a 2005 murder conviction and ordered a new trial, ruling the first one was unfair. Hong Kong prosecutors rejected the expatriate mother of three’s guilty plea to manslaughter in order to pursue the murder case.

Kissel’s lawyers had argued she suffered from a mental disorder and was provoked by Robert Kissel before she killed him on Nov. 2, 2003. Defense lawyer Edward Fitzgerald called 16 witnesses including psychiatrists and psychologists who said she likely suffered from a major depressive disorder and battered- wife syndrome, reducing her responsibility for the killing.

“The defendant was not suffering from a depressive disorder,” Perry told the nine-member jury, pointing to evidence that she had an active social life, ran a photography business and was planning a trip to San Francisco for breast uplift surgery in the days before the murder. “This is another attempt to deceive you.”

Bludgeoned With Ornament

In the first part of the retrial, which began on Jan. 11, prosecutors presented evidence to show Nancy Kissel searched online for prescription sedatives before obtaining four drugs from two psychiatrists. She blended them in a milkshake for her husband and, hours later, bludgeoned him with an eight-pound lead ornament in their bedroom, acts for which Kissel has accepted responsibility.

Nancy Kissel was having an affair at the time and was the main beneficiary of the $18 million estate. Robert Kissel was the head of Merrill’s distressed assets business in Asia.

Perry called the account of the killing Kissel gave in her retrial false, saying a confrontation she described with her husband over the subject of divorce and children, as well as his handling of a baseball bat which prompted her to pick up the lead ornament, were “inventions.”

The prosecution lawyer argued the account of a psychiatrist, Dr. C.K. Wong, that the five blows Kissel dealt to her husband’s head could have been part of a frenzied attack, was unrealistic.

“Those blows were aimed at an area that was 14 centimeters by 8 centimeters,” Perry said. “That is consistent with a person acting with purpose.”

Kissel was sentenced to life in prison in 2005. A manslaughter conviction may mean a sentence of eight to 12 years, her lawyers have said. She has already served more than six years.

The case is HKSAR v. Nancy Ann Kissel, HCCC55/2010 in Hong Kong’s High Court of First Instance.

To contact the reporter on this story: Debra Mao in Hong Kong at dmao5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Wong at dwong19@bloomberg.net

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