Nancy Kissel, serving a life sentence in Hong Kong for the 2003 murder of her Merrill Lynch & Co. banker husband, sought to appeal her second unanimous conviction by a jury for the crime.
The Court of Appeal, after hearing two days of arguments, will consider its decision to be delivered at a later date, Justice Wally Yeung said today.
Prosecution lawyer David Perry said earlier that the jury in Kissel’s 2011 retrial found her guilty “on the totality of the evidence,” and that there was no substance or arguable ground for the mother-of-three’s appeal. Kissel’s lawyer said yesterday that the verdict was unsafe because the prosecution had improperly directed jurors to ignore unanimous and unrebutted evidence that she was suffering from depression.
Kissel’s lawyer Edward Fitzgerald also argued that the trial judge should have told the jury to be careful before ignoring the evidence about her depressive illness.
Kissel, 49, has been imprisoned in Hong Kong since her first conviction in 2005 for murdering her husband Robert at their luxury apartment. Hong Kong’s top court found in 2010 that improper questioning and hearsay evidence had tainted the original trial. Prosecutors charged her again with murder, rejecting her offer to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
A jury of seven women and two men in 2011 accepted that Kissel planned to drug her husband with a milkshake before bludgeoning his skull with a lead ornament while he was unconscious on their bed. Kissel’s lawyers had argued that she was depressed, suffered from battered woman syndrome and was provoked by her husband before she killed him.
Kissel had earlier decided not to appeal her second conviction and applied to transfer to the U.S. to serve her life sentence, the court heard. That move wasn’t pursued after it was advised that no application for parole could be made there.
The U.S. expatriate’s journey from a $20,000-a-month apartment with a view of the South China Sea to a prison cell on the Chinese border spawned at least two books, U.S. network news specials and a Lifetime Television movie. Media coverage intensified after Robert’s millionaire real estate developer brother Andrew Kissel was stabbed to death in 2006.
The case is Nancy Ann Kissel and HKSAR, CACC66/2012. Hong Kong Court of Appeal.