Kissel children sue mother over murder

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 September, 2006, 12:00am

Tragic saga takes new twist one year on as husband-killer works with lawyers on appeal to overturn life sentence

Nancy Kissel's three children have filed a claim against her for the wrongful death of their father, almost one year from the day she was sentenced to life for his murder.

Another writ was also lodged in the High Court on Wednesday by the family lawyer on behalf of Robert Kissel's estate.

The Kissel trial was one of Hong Kong's most sensational, featuring accusations by Nancy that Robert, a high-flying Merrill Lynch banker, was a frequent cocaine and alcohol user who subjected her to regular beatings.

She was accused of drugging her husband with a 'milkshake' of sedatives before slamming him over the head with an ornament in November 2003. While admitting to the crime, she claimed she was only acting in self-defence.

The prosecution alleged Kissel wanted to remove her husband so she could run away with her TV repairman lover, Michael Del Priore.

Kissel has apparently been working with her lawyers on her appeal against the sentence, which is due later this year. Her lawyers did not return calls to confirm how close the appeal was from court.

Kissel's friends say she is putting on a brave face in the wake of the latest twist in the saga. A friend of Nancy's, who also knew Robert, said she felt strongly that her trial was a 'travesty of justice'.

A friend said she felt the press coverage of her trial was 'badly biased' towards the opinions of her husband's father, William.

'She feels that in the April 2006 death of Robert's older brother Andrew, there are clues to the true character of her late husband,' the friend said. 'She suggests this is not a story of a bad brother and a good brother ... but an evil brother and a slightly less evil younger one.'

Andrew, 46, was found dead in the basement of his home two days before he was due to appear in a US court to plead guilty to a multimillion-dollar embezzlement.

According to Robert Kissel's high school sweetheart, Carol Horton, his sister Jane Clayton and her husband recently bought a bigger house to accommodate their enlarged family, which now includes the Kissel children, whom they were granted custody of last year.

But Mrs Clayton has no access to her brother's estate, she said.

'The kids are doing really well. They have settled in and made lots of friends in their new schools. The eldest daughter, Elaine, has taken up a job as a babysitter on the weekends. They are all involved in after-school activities, sports and dance,' Mrs Horton said.

Kissel family patriarch William, who lives in Florida, visited his daughter in Seattle often, Mrs Horton said, but was still having a hard time coping with the loss of both his sons. A former colleague of Robert Kissel hopes the writs never make it to court 'for the children's sake'.

'They are going to want to put this behind them as much as they possibly can,' he said.