Kissel wins bid to seek hearing in highest court

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 February, 2009, 12:00am

Nancy Kissel, the so-called Milkshake Murderer, has cleared a key hurdle in a bid to fight her conviction in the city's top court.

The Court of Appeal ruled yesterday that Kissel, 44, could petition the Court of Final Appeal to hear the case, four years after she was found guilty of murdering her investment banker husband Robert in a sensational trial that enthralled Hong Kong.

The mother of three, who was jailed for life, must now ask the city's highest court for a hearing.

Yesterday, a three-judge panel - Mr Justice Frank Stock, Mr Justice Michael Stuart-Moore and Mr Justice Alan Wright - said the American-born Kissel's case raised a specific legal issue of 'great and general importance'.

That legal point was whether prosecutors could cross-examine defendants about statements made by their lawyers at a bail hearing.

The ruling comes several months after the same judges quashed Kissel's appeal against conviction and rejected claims she had not received a fair trial.

But the trio agreed the legal issue raised by Kissel's bail hearing was a matter that should be heard by the Court of Final Appeal.

Kissel's lawyers told a November 2004 bail hearing that her mental state was normal, an opinion they weren't qualified to offer, barrister Alexander King SC said.

The prosecution later questioned Kissel about those statements to attack her claims of a mental breakdown, which the trial judge should have disallowed, Mr King told the court before its ruling.

Kissel could be granted a fresh trial if the top court, after agreeing to hear the case, was convinced that the bail hearing dealt her a 'grave or substantial injustice'.

'Our position is that [those statements] can never be the subject of cross-examination,' Mr King told the hearing. 'There was plenty of admissible evidence upon which the prosecution could argue to the jury that Mrs Kissel's mental state was normal and her allegation of meltdown, and amnesia, was something she had made up.'

Kissel's lawyers argued that she had lashed out in a rage against an abusive, cocaine-addicted husband.

The marathon trial in 2005 heard how Kissel fed her husband, a senior executive at US investment bank Merrill Lynch, a drug-laced milkshake on November 2, 2003, before bludgeoning him to death with a heavy ornament.