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January 13, 2010

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US expat starts final appeal of murder sentence

AN American expatriate jailed in Hong Kong for more than four years for killing her investment banker husband by drugging him with a sedative-laced milkshake and bashing his head launched her final appeal of a life sentence yesterday.

Michigan native Nancy Kissel was convicted of murder and sentenced in Hong Kong's High Court in September 2005. An appeals court upheld the ruling in October 2008.

On Tuesday, the 45-year-old American sought her last legal recourse as her lawyers pleaded her case before the Court of Final Appeal.

Kicking off a scheduled three-day hearing, Kissel's lawyer Gerard McCoy argued that prosecutors improperly used bail proceedings to back their case that she was mentally sound at the time of the murder.

Kissel attended yesterday's hearing. Dressed in a dark suit jacket and wearing an upright hairdo, she appeared frail, clutching to the bars that enclosed the defendant's holding area when she stood as the justices entered the courtroom. She smiled at her supporters, who included her parents, relatives and a priest.

"She's weak. She can't walk very well. She needs a good medical work-up but she's got great spirits," Kissel's mother, Jean McGlothlin, told reporters.

Kissel's sensational trial has made headlines worldwide.

Kissel admitted killing her husband, Robert, a 40-year-old investment banker for Merrill Lynch, in self-defense as he was threatening her with a baseball bat in a quarrel. She described the native of New York state as an erratic, whiskey-swilling workaholic who also snorted cocaine and forced her to have painful anal sex.


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