Housewife guilty of Hong Kong 'milkshake murder'

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People packed the courtroom to listen to details of Robert and Nancy Kissel's troubled marriage that ended in November 2003 in the bedroom of their luxury apartment overlooking Hong Kong.

The three months of testimony gave the public a rare glimpse into the private life of one of the wealthy expatriate families who seem to live in an ideal world.

A seven-member jury convicted Nancy Kissel, 41, of murdering her investment banker husband by mixing him a milkshake laced with sedatives before striking his head five times with a heavy metal ornament. She listened stoically to the verdict that got her a mandatory life sentence. Her lawyer wouldn't say whether she would appeal.

Robert Kissel was from New York, while his wife was born in Adrian, Michigan, and studied business at the University of Minnesota.

The prosecution said that the mousey brunette who dressed in black during the trial was a cold-blooded killer who carefully planned the murder, surfing the internet for tips on how to drug her husband - a top investment banker at Merrill Lynch. A mixture of sedatives - including the date-rape drug Rohypnol - was found in his stomach.

The prosecution argued that Robert Kissel, 40, was seeking a divorce and custody of their three children partly because he caught her having an affair. The lover - acknowledged by Nancy Kissel - was a TV repairman who lived in a trailer park near the couple's vacation home in the US state of Vermont.

Nancy Kissel said her husband was a cocaine-snorting, whisky-swilling, abusive, workaholic monster who frequently forced her to have anal sex. She said he was dragging her into the bedroom and assaulting her with a baseball bat the night she killed him in self defence. She said she lost her memory after killing her husband.

The prosecution said the body was left in the bedroom for two days before Nancy Kissel rolled it up in a carpet and asked maintenance workers to haul it away to a storage locker. The workers said the carpet had a rotten fish smell, and a maid noted that it seemed unusually bulky.

A day after the killing, Nancy Kissel e-mailed a friend saying: "My husband is not well. I need to take care of something with him."

Nancy Kissel's mother supported her during the trial in this former British colony, where English is still the language used in court. The victim's father, William Kissel, was also present. After the verdict, he said said: "Right now, I'm just going to try and get by. Feet on the ground again."

William Kissel, was thrilled with the jury's 7-0 decision. "It's a 65-day trial and its unanimous," he said. "That's justice."