Kissel a full-of-fun mother, friend tells court

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 March, 2011, 12:00am

A friend described Nancy Kissel, accused of bludgeoning her investment banker husband to death, as the kind of mother 'who would do a conga line in a grocery store and act like a Teletubby' for her children.

Nancy Nassberg's comments were heard at the retrial of Kissel, 46, at the Court of First Instance yesterday. The American mother-of-three pleads not guilty to murdering Robert Kissel, 40, on or about November 2, 2003, but guilty to manslaughter, which the prosecution does not accept.

Nancy Kissel, Nassberg said, 'lived for her children'. 'Nancy was the type of mother who would do a conga line in a grocery store, act like a Teletubby and let them put her on the floor and put make-up on her,' Nassberg said. 'She wanted her children to have the best life ever.'

Nassberg, who met Nancy Kissel in 1998, said she was 'an absolutely wonderful, loyal, compassionate, intelligent, talented individual'. The best way to describe her, Nassberg said, were in her own daughter's words. 'She said, when she was five and she says to this day, 'Mrs Kissel gives real hugs'. To me, this personifies Nancy's warmth.'

Her comments came yesterday as Nancy Kissel's legal team continued to put forward their client's case.

The jury of nine had previously spent weeks hearing prosecutors' claims that the expatriate wife had struck her husband using a lead ornament before putting his body in a sleeping bag and carpet, and having workmen move it to a store room.

But Nancy Kissel's lawyers said their client suffered from depression and that allegations of a cold-blooded, calculated killing made no sense.

Nassberg said she noticed in March 1999, after Kissel had been in the US, that she had become sullen, aloof, quiet and withdrawn. After her friend gave birth to her son in October that year, she sounded distant in a phone call. She was 'not the typical Nancy, not the effervescent, friendly Nancy,' Nassberg said.

Dr Desmond Fung, a psychiatrist, said Kissel talked of her distress over her marriage, her lack of sleep and a family history of depression on her first visit in August 2003. He concluded she was experiencing anxiety and depression, and prescribed a sleeping medication. After a second session in October 2003 he prescribed three drugs - one each for sleep, anxiety and depression.

The trial continues.