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Oct 122012
 

Hemera/Thinkstock(PROVO, Utah) — A Utah judge has decided that a once prominent doctor who was recently freed from prison for identity fraud will now stand trial for the murder of his wife, calling his actions surrounding her death “evidence of a guilty mind.”

Martin MacNeill, 57, a doctor and former Mormon Sunday school teacher, served three years in a Texas federal prison for fraud and was released in July.  Last month, MacNeill was arrested on murder charges — the warrant alleging that he “intentionally overdosed” his wife, Michele MacNeill, after she had plastic surgery, because she had approached him about his alleged affair.

In a Provo, Utah, courtroom on Wednesday, all eyes were on Gypsy Willis, the woman who moved into the family’s home as a nanny for his youngest daughter two weeks after Michele’s death.  Investigators say a year-long affair with Willis was Martin MacNeill’s motive in the murder of his wife.

Willis testified that she met MacNeil online in 2005 and started a sexual relationship one year later.  She also said he provided her with a credit card to help her get through nursing school.  She testified she never thought MacNeill would ever leave his wife for her.

After the death of his wife, MacNeill and Willis were both convicted of identity fraud and served years in prison for stealing the identity of MacNeill’s 16-year-old adopted daughter.

“In this case, the motive will sit well with a lot of jurors because it gives them a hook which that they can justify a conviction,” Attorney Ronald Richards told ABC News, noting that the state will need to show that there’s some conduct on behalf of the defendant that links him to the murder.

In court Thursday, the prosecutor referred to Willis as the “nanny with benefits.”

Shortly after her testimony, the judge ordered MacNeill to stand trial for first-degree murder, calling his actions surrounding his wife’s death “evidence of a guilty mind.”

An initial autopsy report stated Michele MacNeill died of natural causes.  However, authorities now believe Martin MacNeill drugged and drowned his wife, who was found unconscious in the bathtub.

MacNeill’s frantic 911 call five years ago seems to indicate that he tried to save his wife after she drowned.

Susanne Gustin, MacNeill’s defense attorney, says that he’s no killer.  “He’s done some bad things in his life, but does that mean he’s a murderer?  No,” she said.

MacNeill is expected to enter pleas to the murder charges on Oct. 22, at which time a trial date could be set.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Aug 282012
 

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Utah doctor accused of killing his wife made his first court appearance on Monday and came face-to-face with his daughters, who say they always believed their father had a plan to kill their mother.

Martin MacNeill, 56, was formally charged in the death of his wife, Michele, in April 2007.  MacNeill has been held on $1 million bond at Utah County jail since Friday, and is due to return on Sept. 4 to choose an arraignment or an evidentiary hearing.

He has denied the allegations.

Two of his daughters and other family members held up pictures of their mother as they glared at their shackled father in the courtroom.

“She [Michele MacNeill] means so much to so many people and this is who he took away from everyone, this is our mother,” MacNeill’s daughter, Alexis Somers, said outside court.  “I think he drugged my mother and drowned her.  It’s been horrifying, and horrifying that we had to wait for this day so long.”

An initial autopsy report stated that Michele MacNeill, 50, had died of natural causes eight days after having a facelift.  Authorities now believe Martin MacNeill drugged and drowned his wife, who was found unconscious in the bathtub.  Prosecutors believe MacNeill gave his wife a dangerous combination of valium, Percocet and Ambien in an elaborate plot to kill her.

It’s a twisted family tale that began when MacNeill, a father of seven, turned 50.  His daughters said he became obsessed with his looks and started to tan and exercise.  Their mother began to suspect an affair.  Then, MacNeill focused on his wife’s looks, insisting she get a facelift.

While caring for her mother after the surgery, Somers said, she heard a bombshell days before her mother died.

“A few days before her death, I was helping her wash her hair and she turned to me and said, ‘Alex, if anything happens to me, make sure it was not your father,’” Somers said.

On the day Michele MacNeill died, Martin MacNeill had arrived home after picking up his then 6-year-old daughter from school.  They found Michele in the bathtub.

In a series of screaming 911 calls, Martin McNeill hung up on the operator three times in five minutes.  During that time, prosecutors say, he removed his wife’s pants, lied to the dispatcher about performing CPR and gave the wrong address of his residence, further delaying emergency responders.

“We know he’s guilty,” daughter Rachel MacNeill said.  “We know he’ll harm again.  If he’s let out, he will come after us.”

MacNeill’s attorney, Randy Spencer, said, “He’s adamantly professed his innocence from the beginning and continues to do so.  I’m confident when all the evidence is heard that the jury will conclude he’s not guilty.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio