Hong Kong judge orders American retried for murder

A Hong Kong judge Friday ordered American Nancy Kissel to stand trial again for the "milkshake" murder of her banker husband, handing a big setback to her defense team in the high profile case.

When the judgment was announced, Kissel broke down in tears and had to be assisted from the court holding area by two female prison officers, Hong Kong government broadcaster RTHK reported.

Her retrial is expected to begin on Jan. 10, with a pretrial hearing on Jan. 4.

Kissel, 46, of Adrian, Michigan, was convicted of drugging then bashing her husband Robert to death in a luxury Hong Kong apartment and sentenced to life in prison in September 2005. Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal overturned the decision in February. The court found prosecutors improperly cross-examined Kissel and the trial judge wrongly allowed hearsay evidence.

Lawyers for Kissel, who has remained in custody, argued that the court should grant an application to have the case thrown out altogether, but that was rejected on Friday. Under a gag order imposed earlier this month, the reasons for the judge's decision cannot be reported.

Kissel's first trial grabbed headlines around the world with its juicy detail on the breakdown of a wealthy expatriate marriage in this southern Chinese financial hub. It spawned two books and a TV special.

Prosecutors alleged that Kissel carefully plotted her husband's murder in November 2003, first drugging him with a milkshake laced with sedatives and then bludgeoning his head with a metal ornament. Kissel said she killed her husband in self-defense after he attacked her with a baseball bat and tried to rape her.

While prosecutors portrayed Robert as a loving father, his wife said the former investment banker for Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch was a heavy drinker and cocaine user who was frequently sexually abusive. She also acknowledged having an affair with an electrician who worked at the couple's vacation home in Vermont.

Former British colony Hong Kong maintains separate political, economic and legal systems from mainland China as part of its special semiautonomous status.