By James Pomfret
HONG KONG (Reuters) - A Hong Kong jury on Friday unanimously found an American woman guilty of murdering her Merrill Lynch banker husband in 2003, ending the lengthy retrial of a case that riveted the territory with tales of rough sex, marital violence and adultery.
Nancy Kissel, who has often appeared in a wheelchair during nearly 10 weeks of proceedings at Hong Kong's High Court, had already been sentenced to life in prison in 2005 for murdering senior Merrill Lynch investment banker Robert Kissel by giving him a milkshake spiked with sedatives and then clubbing him to death with a metal statuette.
Kissel had pleaded guilty to murder. But in the retrial, she had pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter, with the defense arguing that she suffers from depression and had been provoked into the crime after years of sexual and physical abuse by her husband.
After the verdict was read out by the jury -- comprised of seven women and two men -- Kissel, looking pale and thin, rocked backwards and forwards slowly as members of her family broke down in tears and held one another.
Justice Andrew Macrae described the retrial as a "difficult and very serious one" while saying that his "hands were tied" in upholding Kissel's life sentence in accordance with Hong Kong punishment for murder, despite mitigating arguments put forward by Kissel's lawyers.
"I don't wish to say anything to add to your anguish," Macrae said simply to Kissel, who struggled to stay on her feet as prison wardens led her from the courtroom.
Kissel's elderly mother, Jean McGlothlin, said she was "shocked by the outcome." It was not immediately clear if Kissel would appeal.
The case, dubbed the "milkshake murder," had gripped many in Hong Kong and abroad, offering a glimpse of the darker side of high-flying expatriate life in the former British colony.
(Reporting by James Pomfret, editing by Miral Fahmy)