Nancy Kissel, serving a life sentence in Hong Kong for murdering her Merrill Lynch & Co. banker husband ten years ago, lost a bid to appeal her second conviction for the crime.
“We are satisfied that the murder conviction against the applicant is neither unsafe nor unsatisfactory,” the city’s Court of Appeal ruled today, denying Kissel the right to appeal the jury’s verdict at her 2011 retrial.
The mother-of-three, 49, has been imprisoned since her first conviction in 2005 for murdering her husband Robert after drugging him with a milkshake. Hong Kong’s top court ordered a new trial in 2010 after it found improper questioning and hearsay evidence had tainted the original trial. She was convicted again after prosecutors rejected her offer to plead guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter.
Kissel’s lawyer Colin Cohen said today that she will likely seek a Court of Final Appeal hearing. Her lawyers had argued jurors in her retrial might not have properly considered unanimous and unrebutted evidence that she was suffering from depression.
The three-judge appeal panel said today in their 64-page ruling that the jury was aware of the evidence and had clearly rejected the defense case, and accepted that the killing was a planned murder.
Kissel had earlier decided not to appeal her second conviction and applied to transfer to the U.S. to serve her life sentence. That move wasn’t pursued after Kissel was advised no application for parole could be made there.
Police discovered Robert Kissel’s body four days after his death, wrapped in a sleeping bag and rolled up in a carpet inside a family storeroom after a Merrill colleague made a missing person’s report.
Prosecutors at the second trial had said Kissel was the main beneficiary of her husband’s $18 million estate and was having an affair at the time of the killing. Her lawyers had argued she was depressed, suffered from battered woman syndrome and was provoked by her husband before she killed him.
A jury of seven women and two men in 2011 accepted Kissel planned to drug her husband with a milkshake before bludgeoning his skull with a lead ornament while he was unconscious on their bed.
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.