HONG KONG – An American woman serving a life sentence in Hong Kong returned to court Monday to appeal her murder conviction for bashing her banker husband to death after spiking his milkshake with a sedative.
Nancy Kissel's attempt to overturn the verdict in what became known as the "milkshake murder" would reopen a sensational trial in a case involving alleged sexual abuse, cocaine and adultery.
Kissel was found guilty of murder after a three-month trial in 2005 for the death of her husband on Nov. 2, 2003.
During her trial, Kissel, a native of the U.S. state of Minnesota, said she killed her husband in self-defense because he was wielding a baseball bat.
Dressed in black as she had been for much of her trial, Kissel appeared fragile Monday. She was supported by others as she entered the court room and sat down.
Taking notes extensively, she was composed during most of Monday's hearing, but burst into tears when she talked to her parents, brother and relatives during a break.
Defense attorney Gerard McCoy said Kissel's appeal will be based on the argument of self-defense and provocation.
McCoy said the judge in Kissel's trial, High Court Judge Michael Victor Lunn, gave jurors confusing instructions on the definition of self-defense.
"There has been a degree of unfairness that impaired the safety of the verdict," McCoy told the court.
He also argued Lunn summarized the case quickly so that jurors may have lost their concentration, but the appeals court rejected McCoy's request to present evidence supporting that argument.
Prosecutors said Kissel's husband Robert, an investment banker for Merrill Lynch, found out his wife was having an affair and had planned to seek a divorce just before she killed him.
She drugged him using a milkshake laced with the "date-rape drug" Rohypnol and hours later bludgeoned him to death with a metal ornament in the bedroom of their luxury apartment in Hong Kong, prosecutors said.
She later wrapped the body in a rug and asked maintenance workers to move it to a storeroom near the apartment complex, prosecutors said.
Kissel said her husband was a violent, short-tempered cocaine addict who frequently forced her to have painful anal sex.
Robert Kissel's estate was worth $18 million in life insurance, stocks and properties, according to prosecutors.
The hearing, scheduled for eight days, is to continue at Hong Kong's Court of Appeal on Tuesday.