Here on HK Housewife, we would be remiss not to mention the retrial that began today of one, if not the, most famous Hong Kong Housewife: Nancy Kissel, who was accused of murdering her Merrill Lynch investment banker husband Robert Kissel five years ago.
Prosecutors alleged that Kissel carefully plotted her husband Robert’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.
The Kissels lived in the Parkview… where Robert’s body was found wrapped in a rug and shoved into a utility closet several days after he was killed. My friend Lauren was hiking in Shatin over the weekend and took some pictures of the luxury highrise complex.
The Parkview is one of those weird Hong Kong-only institutions — inside this massive complex overlooking the sea there are not just apartments, but a pre-school, supermarket, five restaurants, spa, aquarium, billiards rooms, a karaoke lounge… weddings, corporate team building events, and board meetings are held there. The New York Times pointed out that the Kissel case brings attention to how class divided Hong Kong is.
Last year, the U.N. Development Program said that Hong Kong had the widest rich-poor gap among the 38 “very high human development” economies it had studied. The Hong Kong Council of Social Service, an advisory body to the local government, announced last October that the number of people living in poverty had grown to a record 1.26 million, or about 18 percent of the population. More than one-third of Hong Kong’s elderly residents live in poverty, the group said in its findings.
One can’t help but wonder if the Kissel family is cursed.
Robert Kissel’s family suffered a further tragedy in 2006, when his brother Andrew was found murdered in his house in Connecticut, bound and with multiple stab wounds. He was reportedly about to plead guilty to bank fraud charges.
The Kissel murder generated so much interest that there is even a book written about it.
The case is expected to last fifty days and it will be interesting to hear what happens… previously Ms. Kissel admitted to the murder, but said it was out of self defense. The retrial was ordered by Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal overturned the decision last February on the grounds that prosecutors improperly cross-examined Kissel and that the trial judge allowed hearsay evidence. (Hong Kong, by the way, has a totally separate legal system from China.) Given the colorful details of the story (you can’t make this stuff up!) it remains to be seen whether this jury will be able to remain impartial.