Image: Nancy Kissel
Ed Jones  /  AFP - Getty Images
Nancy Kissel leaves the High Court in Hong Kong on Thursday. Her first trial spawned two books and a TV special.
msnbc.com news services
updated 3/25/2011 4:42:49 AM ET 2011-03-25T08:42:49

A Hong Kong jury unanimously found an American woman guilty of murder Friday in her retrial over the death of her wealthy husband.

The verdict and automatic life sentence match the original outcome of the 2005 case against Nancy Kissel, who testified her husband, Robert, physically and sexually abused her as their marriage deteriorated.

She had denied murder but admitted to the lesser charge of manslaughter for his death. Prosecutors argued Robert Kissel's death was a carefully planned murder that Nancy Kissel tried to conceal.

The first trial grabbed worldwide attention as it detailed the breakdown of a wealthy expatriate marriage in this southern Chinese financial hub. The case spawned two books and a TV special.

Prosecutors say Kissel, a native of Adrian, Mich., drugged her husband with a sedative-laced milkshake and then bludgeoned him with a metal ornament in 2003. Kissel said during the first trial that she killed the Merrill Lynch investment banker in self-defense after he attacked her with a baseball bat and tried to rape her.

The original conviction and mandatory life sentence Nancy Kissel was issued in 2005. It was overturned last year and a judge ordered a retrial because prosecutors improperly cross-examined her and the original judge allowed hearsay evidence.

Kissel often appeared in a wheelchair over the course of the nearly 50-day retrial in Hong Kong's High Court.

Her trial riveted Hong Kong with tales of rough sex, marital violence and adultery.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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