Former Utah doctor Martin MacNeill had to face his oldest daughter Thursday as she cried and visibly trembled for much of her testimony against him, the man she said she once called her best friend.
Rachel MacNeill told jurors that her father moved his mistress into the family’s home within two weeks of her mother’s funeral. She also said that, in the hours after her mother, Michele MacNeill, died, her father was adamant about showing her how he found the body.
“He said that my mother was under the water. He said that her head - that she was under the water, feet sticking out,” Rachel MacNeill said, stepping down from the witness stand and hunching over the bathtub prosecutors had hauled in the Provo, Utah, courtroom. It’s not the actual tub from the family’s home that Michele MacNeill was found in, but it's the same make and model.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Susanne Gustin pulled out a medical record stating that Rachel MacNeill suffered from "delusions and psychosis" in August 2012, and when questioned, MacNeill admitted she has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
The way Rachel MacNeill said her father described the position of her mother's body in the tub conflicts with the testimony of other witnesses. Several neighbors who saw Michele MacNeill the morning of her death said she was on her back and slumped down inside the tub, not slumped over the side with her head under water in the manner Rachel MacNeill said her father depicted.
Martin MacNeill has pleaded not guilty to murder and obstruction of justice in the death of his wife, who had a powerful cocktail of drugs in her system on April 11, 2007, following face-lift surgery. His attorneys say Michele MacNeill died of natural causes, but prosecutors accuse Martin MacNeill of murdering her in order to be with his mistress, Gypsy Willis.
Prosecutors say Martin MacNeill was having an affair when he drugged and drowned his wife, Michele, in 2007. He has pleaded not guilty to her murder. Get caught up on what you missed from week one of his trial.
Prosecutors dragged a bathtub into court for the first days of their case against Martin MacNeill and questioned whether the Utah doctor actually tried saving his wife after pulling her lifeless body onto the bathroom floor.
Martin MacNeill is accused of drugging his wife with a powerful cocktail of prescriptions and then drowning her as she recovered from face-lift surgery in 2007.
MacNeill, who has pleaded not guilty, could face life in prison if convicted. His defense attorneys say investigators were so intent on pointing the finger at MacNeill that they overlooked the simple fact that his wife died from natural causes.
In the days ahead, jurors may hear from the couple's daughter, Alexis, who now goes by her mother's maiden name, Somers. She was a medical student at the time of her mother's death and was by her mother's side during her recovery. Somers is expected to testify about her suspicions surrounding her father's behavior. She may also tell jurors that it was her father who pushed her mother to have the surgery.
Anna Osborne Walthall, a woman who claims to have been Martin MacNeill's lover for several months in 2005, is also expected to take the stand at some point. She claims MacNeill told her about how to administer heart-stopping drugs that can go undetected.
There's also MacNeill's alleged mistress, Gypsy Willis, who could be thrown in the mix. Prosecutors say the doctor and Willis were having an affair and she's the reason MacNeill was moved to kill his wife. The pair was convicted of fraud charges in 2009 after using the personal information from one of MacNeill's adopted daughters to create a new identity for Gypsy as "Jillian." MacNeill listed "Jillian" as his wife on at least one document, with their marriage date the same day as his late wife's funeral.
MacNeill's trial is expected to take place over five weeks. The jury who will decide his fate is comprised of six men and five women, which includes three alternates.
When EMS workers arrived at the Pleasant Grove, Utah, home of Michele and Dr. Martin MacNeill, they found a tragedy.
Michele MacNeill, a mother of eight children, was unresponsive in her bathtub, and Martin MacNeill, according to law enforcement at the scene, was hysterical and angry, cursing his wife for having had a recent face-lift.
Michele MacNeill was pronounced dead later on April 11, 2007. The autopsy report determined she died of natural causes due to cardiovascular disease. But three years later, at the urging of her children, there was a new analysis of a toxicology report that changed everything.
Combinations of medications found in Michele MacNeill's system were determined to have contributed to her death. Diazepam, Oxycodone, Promethazine and Zolpidem were all found in her system. Although none of the drugs alone was at toxic levels, Dr. Todd Grey, chief medical examiner of the Utah State Medical Examiner's Office, determined that, in combination, the drugs could have led to sedation and heart arrhythmia, resulting in cardiac death.
On October 6, 2010, Michele MacNeill's cause of death was changed to "combined effects of heart disease and drug toxicity." The manner of death was changed from natural to undetermined. As investigators began to reopen the case, they realized they had a suspect: Michele MacNeill's husband.