American housewife's betrayal

By Channel NewsAsia
September 2, 2005
HONG KONG : The American housewife convicted of murdering her wealthy husband in Hong Kong has only one recourse left - to appeal the verdict.

Nancy Kissel was sentenced to life imprisonment after a three-month high profile trial.

The case has captured the public's interest with its tales of sex, violence, greed and betrayal in the expatriate community.

The Hong Kong court heard how American housewife Nancy Kissel gave her 40-year-old husband a milkshake laced with sedatives before attacking him with a lead ornament.

Robert Kissel had been a successful investment banker with Merrill Lynch, and the couple had been highly regarded in Hong Kong's privileged expatriate community.

But her defence lawyers claimed that Robert often flew into a rage when he was under the influence of cocaine and alcohol.

They said he forced his wife to endure humiliating sexual abuse and violence for five years.

Nancy earlier admitted to killing her husband in November 2003 but claimed it was in self-defense.

She did not manage to convince the jury of five men and two women.

They took eight hours to reach a guilty verdict, and when it was read out, Nancy did not react.

"She's very cruel to bludgeon her husband, she deserves it," said one member of the public.

Another said: "I've been following the case everyday. Earlier she said that she didn't kill him intentionally, then she admitted it. If she wasn't guilty, they wouldn't have convicted her."

"It's quite shocking, I'm not surprised that they threw the book at her and everyone thought she was going down. I'd be very surprised if she got off," said another.

Robert Kissel's body was found after his wife wrapped him up in old carpets. His body was discovered after the carpet was being collected by removal men.

Forensics showed Robert suffered five fatal blows to his head.

During the trial, it had been revealed that Nancy was having an affair with electrician Michael del Priore in the United States.

The prosecution said her husband Robert found out about this and threatened to end the marriage.

His discovery is believed to have sparked their fatal fight.

The trauma of the killing caused Nancy to suffer a mental meltdown.

She started displaying bizarre behaviour which eventually led to the discovery of Robert's body.

Robert's estate, including a life insurance payout, is said to be worth about US$18 million.

"Robert can now rest in peace and his children can go on with their lives," said William Kissel, the victim's father.

The couple have three young children who are being looked after by Robert's brother in America.

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