Monday, August 08, 2005

 
Love is Strange
It's all Kissel, all the time this week! Once again, ripped directly from the reporter's notebook for your viewing pleasure...
Despite her earlier claims of suffering intense physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband, an emotional Nancy Kissel declared Monday that she still loves Robert Kissel, whom she is accused of murdering.
``I still love him,'' she said during cross-examination at the High Court.
Shaking and choking out the words, ``he was my husband.''
The prosecution suggested Monday during cross-examination that she did not tell family or friends about the alleged history of sexual abuse she suffered from her former Merrill Lynch banker husband.
Nancy Kissel also said she could not say for sure whether she mentioned the sodomy and cocaine abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband when she spoke to doctors and counsellors, because ``there was nothing to tell'' or ``because it wasn't happening,''
The court also heard that Kissel's chief psychiatrist Dr Henry Yuen, who had previously reported that the accused murderer was mentally stable with no suicidal tendencies and has made no mention of memory loss, was not granted permission by the defendant to testify in these criminal proceedings.
Kissel, in her fifth day in the witness box, was subjected to another day of questioning about her alleged memory loss and her failure to make concrete reports to friends, family, doctors or the police during the five years she said she was abused.
Since the beginning of her testimony the crowds have swelled to an extent that Monday, two crowd-controlling marshals have been employed to ensure there are no more than 10 persons standing, with a note saying the public may have to queue for re-entry if they leave their seats.
Nancy Kissel said that Robert Kissel's confidante, Bryna O'Shea would not want to hear anything bad about him and that those in the expatriate community in Hong Kong do not want to hear about such issues.
``The alternative, Mrs Kissel, is that there was nothing to tell,'' said Peter Chapman, Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions.
When asked by Chapman to elaborate on her husband's ``abusive behaviour'' towards their children, the defendant replied emotionally that she only noted isolated incidents of violence towards her children.
She then said she ``still'' loves him, ``he was my husband.''
Kissel is accused of serving her husband a pink milkshake laced with sedatives, which left him unconscious at the foot of the bed as she bludgeoned him to death with the heavy metal ornament on November 2, 2003. The decomposing body of Robert Kissel, a former high-flying banker with Merrill Lynch, was found wrapped in a rug, locked in a storeroom at their Parkview residential complex in the early hours of the November 7.
Kissel testified last week that she thought he was going to kill her that night during which they had a furious argument about divorce, resulting his attempt to have sex with her.
In resisting the sex, she knocked him on the head, which resulted in him swinging a baseball bat at her while repeatedly saying, ``I'm going to kill you, you bitch.''
She later accepted that she inflicted the fatal wounds with the metal ornament, but said she could not remember any further details about the fight, and her consequent actions, which the prosecutor labelled, ``memory gaps that relate to significant events.''
Monday, Chapman pointed out that during her bail application in November, 2004, her instructing solicitor, her close friends, and her chief psychiatrist, Dr Henry Yuen, had made affirmations that they thought she did not suffer from any psychiatric illness.
Using the transcripts of that bail hearing, he noted there was no suggestion by anyone that she suffered from memory loss.
Reading from the transcript, Chapman quoted the Senior Counsel for the accused at the time, John Griffiths; ``she is visited monthly by a psychiatrist and there has been no suggestion by himthat she is in need of any help.''
``So, a person with dissociative amnesia doesn't need help?'' asked Chapman. Kissel replied she was not in a position to comment on psychiatric terms.
``I suggest to you Mrs Kissel, that the reason for that (not allowing Yuen to testify), as disclosed in the transcript by your counsel, Mr Griffiths, is there is absolutely no psychiatric problem with you. Do you agree?'' asked Chapman.
``Yes,'' replied the accused, but she said the psychiatrist's report was given in the context of whether she was psychiatrically fit enough to be granted bail, and that indeed, she did not suffer from schizophrenia or any other disorders covered by the Mental Health Ordinance that would prohibit bail.
Since the accused has said she spoke to Yuen about her memory loss, his testimony should in fact help her defence, not hamper it, said Chapman. ``Did you tell Dr Yuen about the cocaine, the sodomy, the suicide attempt?'' asked the prosecutor.
``No, he was mostly interested in my medication and my day to day life in Siu Lam (psychiatric center),'' she said, at which point she grew emotionally excited.
``They have no idea, they have no idea of what you've been through in your life and you just can't go in there and say, `hey this is what happened to me','' said Kissel, choking on her words. She said there were many factors that affected her such as the language barrier between her and others at Siu Lam, the isolation, the loss of her children, but she was only asked specific questions about medication.
``There's nothing psychiatrically wrong with me. I'm not suffering from a mental illness. Depression _ yes. Feeling sad, feeling remorseful _ yes. Suffering from something tragic _ yes,'' she said.
Chapman also noted that in Yuen's first report, made on her first day in Siu Lam, November 19, 2003, he said that she was conscious and alert, spoke relevantly and coherently and that she had denied she had suicidal ideas. Kissel said she could not be sure what she said on the very first day of admission into Siu Lam.
Pointing out that she herself has said she was a prominent figure in the Hong Kong International School community and was frequently exposed to public occasions as an ``ambassador'' for the school, Chapman asked why she did not tell, and why no-one noticed her injuries allegedly inflicted during forceful sex.
``I didn't think about approaching anyone,'' she said. ``Because it wasn't happening, Mrs Kissel,'' interrupted Chapman. Finishing her sentence, she said it was something she was ashamed of and not something you talked about at the dinner table or during social occasions.
When Chapman began his questioning on her husband's alleged ``abusive behaviour'' towards the children, Kissel replied in her most emotional state yet; ``I'm not trying to paint a bad picture of him, because I loved him and he was not a bad husband, and I still love him. He was my husband, he was my husband,'' she repeated. She said it was during the isolated instances of violence that scared her.
In relation to one such incident, during a holiday in Phuket ``your evidence was that Robert Kissel treated her (younger of two daughters) so forcefully that he broke her arm.''
But according to her domestic helper also present at the time, ``her version of events is whole different from yourswho's making up the story, you or Connie?'' asked Chapman.
``Connie'' _ Conchita Pee Macaraeg, had testified that the arm was broken when the two daughters were playing on the floor and the elder daughter jumped onto the elbow of the younger. Kissel said she believed the arm was broken because her husband was irritated by their playing around while he was making a business call.
She replied that it wasn't about someone making things up, ``we both recall the girls running around anywhere,'' but Connie had said it happened during the day, and Kissel did not think they would remain in the villa in the day during a holiday.
Chapman said that by this time, 2001, ``Robert Kissel's behaviour around the children, unsettled and scared'' the accused, yet she allowed him to take the two daughters skiing by himself over Christmas 2001, and then returned early in Christmas 2002, again leaving him alone with the daughters.
Kissel replied that on those occasions, it was not her choice to leave him alone with the daughters.
Earlier, the accused said she only realised, ``putting it together now,'' that her husband ``had a fascination for gay sex.''
``This shocking and horrific revelation,'' said Chapman, ``has that triggered you to seek medical advice _ Aids test, have you had one (now)?''
``No,'' she replied. ``Because you don't believe it yourself do you Mrs Kissel,'' suggested Chapman.
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