Effect of sedatives found in Kissel's body uncertain, court hears

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 February, 2011, 12:00am

Sedatives found in the body of Robert Kissel, who his wife Nancy is accused of murdering, might have caused him to lose his inhibitions, a court heard yesterday.

However, it would be unusual for sedatives to have that effect, Yeung Hok-keung, a pharmacology expert and professor at Chinese University, told the Court of First Instance, although instances of such paradoxical effect had been reported from use of sedatives of the same family of drugs.

Nancy Kissel, 46, is on trial for murdering Robert Kissel, 40, an investment banker, on or about November 2, 2003.

Witnesses earlier told the court that Robert Kissel had drunk a drug-laced drink prepared by his wife before his death, and testimony that a neighbour had fallen asleep, then gone on a bizarre ice-cream-eating binge, after drinking a milk shake Nancy Kissel had made according to a 'secret recipe'.

The court has also heard that, after Kissel's death, the accused claimed her husband had left their Parkview, Tai Tam, home after a fight in which he had assaulted her.

Drugs found in Kissel's stomach following his death included three that were, or were similar to, benzodiazepines and a barbiturate, which all have a sedative effect, an antidepressant and salycylic acid.

Asked under cross-examination by Nancy Kissel's barrister, Edward Fitzgerald QC, whether in some cases benzodiazepines can have a 'paradoxical effect' of disinhibiting the person taking them rather than sedating him, Yeung answered yes.

However, Yeung also said the sedative effect would be dominant.

Asked by David Perry QC, on re-examination for the prosecution, whether there were many cases of people attacking others after taking benzodiazepines, Yeung said no.

Yeung said one of the drugs found in Robert's stomach was Rohypnol, which could cause a form of amnesia.

Nancy Kissel pleads not guilty to murder but guilty to manslaughter, which the prosecution does not accept. The American mother of three is being retried after the Court of Final Appeal ruled her first trial flawed and unfair.

Prosecutors say Nancy Kissel bludgeoned her husband to death, wrapped his body in a sleeping bag and carpet, then had it moved to a storeroom.