American Nancy Kissel walks out of Hong Kong's High Court in this Aug. 2, 2005 file photo.
Vincent Yu / AP Enlarge
HONG KONG A Michigan native serving a life sentence in Hong Kong returned to court Monday to appeal a murder conviction for bashing her banker husband to death after spiking his milkshake with sedatives.
Nancy Kissel s attempt to overturn the verdict in what became known as the Milkshake Murder will reopen a sensational trial in a case involving wealthy expatriates alleged sexual abuse, cocaine use and adultery.
Kissel, who was born in Adrian, Mich., and studied business at the University of Minnesota, appeared fragile Monday, requiring help from a guard to sit down. The willowy brunette also burst into tears as she briefly talked to her parents before the hearing began.
She was found guilty of murder after a three-month trial in 2005 for killing her husband Robert Kissel on Nov. 2, 2003.
In opening remarks Monday, defense attorney Gerard McCoy said Kissel s appeal would be based on the argument of self-defense and provocation.
McCoy said the direction given by the original judge had precluded the jury from considering the verdict of self-defense.
There has been a degree of unfairness that impaired the safety of the verdict, McCoy told the court.
The appeal is scheduled for eight days before three judges at Hong Kong s Court of Appeal.
During the trial in 2005, prosecutors said Kissel had an affair with a repairman who worked on the couple s vacation home in Vermont.
Robert Kissel, an investment banker for Merill Lynch, found out about the affair and had planned to seek a divorce just before she killed him, the prosecution said.
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 Hong Kong luxury apartment, prosecutors said.
She later wrapped the body in a rug and asked maintenance workers to move it to a storeroom near the apartment complex, the prosecution said.
Kissel said she killed her spouse, a native of New York state, in self-defense because her husband was wielding a baseball bat. She said he was a violent, short-tempered cocaine addict who frequently forced her to have painful sex.
According to prosecutors, Robert Kissel s estate was worth $18 million in life insurance, stocks and properties.