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Prescription for murder? MacNeill trial begins

NEED TO KNOW
  • Thursday marked the opening day in the trial of the Utah doctor accused of drugging and drowning his wife
  • Martin MacNeill could face life in prison if convicted
Prescription for murder? MacNeill trial begins

Martin MacNeill case: Background on the key players

Martin MacNeill case: Background on the key players

Deadly remedy: Notorious doctors accused of murder

Deadly remedy: Notorious doctors accused of murder

HLN is live-blogging the Martin MacNeill murder trial. Minute-by-minute updates can be found under this story.

Former Utah doctor Martin MacNeill was a coldhearted husband who moved his mistress into the family’s house not long after his wife’s funeral, alleged a prosecuting attorney Thursday in the first day of MacNeill's murder trial.

Prosecutor Sam Pead also accused Martin MacNeill of being all smiles at his wife Michele’s burial, and said he talked about "how odd it was to be a bachelor again.”

Watch: The prosecution in 60 seconds

The scene in the Provo, Utah, courtroom came more than six years after MacNeill’s wife was found dead in the bathtub of the family’s home with a cocktail of drugs in her system.

MacNeill is charged with murder and faces an additional charge of obstructing justice. He has pleaded not guilty.

Watch: The defense in 60 seconds

The plastic surgeon who operated on Michele MacNeill just days before her death was the first witness called to the stand Thursday. He testified that it was Michele’s domineering husband who asked him to prescribe more medications than he normally would have, including the Valium, Percocet, Phenergan, and Ambien that were found in her system.

"Martin indicated to me that he was very concerned about his wife, that she didn’t handle pain well, that she got very anxious and he was just concerned that she wouldn’t do well without having these other options available,” Dr. Scott Thompson said. 

"Would you have entrusted Michele with these drugs on her own?" asked Deputy County Attorney Jared Perkins.

Photos: Nancy Grace behind the scenes at the MacNeill trial

"Not the ones I had prescribed," replied Thompson, who said he only agreed to do it for Martin MacNeill because he was also a physician. Thompson recalls warning Michele about combining the drugs and her expressing a desire to take as little medication as possible following her surgery.

The doctor tasked with clearing Michele MacNeill for her face-lift surgery also took the stand on Thursday. He described the mother of eight as quiet, with little to say during their examination. At one point, he said, he asked to speak with her alone.

"I asked the defendant [Martin MacNeill] to leave the examining room because he was answering all the questions for her," Von Welch said. That’s when, he said, she told him that “she was very depressed and stressed... she did not provide details." 

Read more: Martin MacNeill trial begins

Welch was concerned about Michele MacNeill’s blood pressure and advised the couple to hold off on the surgery.

"[Martin MacNeill] was a little bit animated, a little bit excited to try and get things going,” Welch said. “At the point where I suggested things wait, there was a little bit of disappointment.”

He told the prosecutors that this reaction felt abnormal to him.

Michele MacNeill’s lifeless body was found in the family’s bathtub by her 6-year-old daughter, Ada, on April 11, 2007. Prosecutors allege that Martin MacNeill gave his wife the strong mix of prescriptions to render her helpless against him as he drowned her.

Photos: Who is Martin MacNeill?

The jury of six men and five women, which includes three alternates, listened to both sides make their cases during opening statements Thursday morning.

Defense attorney Susanne Gustin said investigators were so determined to incriminate Martin MacNeill that they turned a blind eye to the scientific evidence, which she said shows Michele died from natural causes.

The original medical examiner working the case ruled that Michele MacNeill died of cardiovascular disease. The case was reopened about a year-and-a-half later on the insistence of some of Michele’s family members. This second medical examiner determined that Michele died from “combined effects of heart disease and drug toxicity,” but could not determine if it was a homicide.

Photos: Martin MacNeill case: The key players

A third doctor who reviewed the case said Michele MacNeill died from drowning, but also couldn’t say for sure if it was an accident or homicide.

One of the couple’s daughters, Alexis, who now goes by her mother’s maiden name of Somers, is expected to testify about her suspicions surrounding her father’s behavior. The defense, however, told jurors that Somers will "take something with a morsel of truth and she’ll exaggerate it.”

The prosecution also promised that several inmates, men they admitted have “checkered pasts,” will testify about what happened to Michele -- in Martin MacNeill’s own words. He allegedly told the inmates that he was responsible for his wife’s death and that cops wouldn’t be able to pin it on him.

Photos: Notorious doctors accused of murder

After Judge Derek Pullan recessed court for the day, he joined Martin MacNeill and the attorneys for a field trip to see a bathtub that prosecutors want to bring into the courtroom. They will likely use it to show how Michele MacNeill’s body was found. They say Martin MacNeill told investigators he discovered her slumped over the side, with her head under water, while other witnesses say she was in the tub with her feet sticking out.

MacNeill’s trial is expected to last around five weeks. If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison. Testimony will resume Friday at 10:30 a.m. ET.

HLN is live-blogging opening statements. Read below for minute-by-minute updates from the trial (best read from the bottom up):

5:14 p.m. ET: The judge is going with the attorneys and MacNeill to see the bathtub that prosecutors want to bring into the courtroom. This meeting will be off the record. Court is in recess for the rest of the day. 

5:08 p.m. ET: The attorneys are at a sidebar.

5:06 p.m. ET: Welch has stepped down from the witness stand. The judge has recessed jurors for the day. He tells them court will be back in session at 10:30 a.m. ET Friday. 

5:04 p.m. ET: Welch is asked one jury question: "What kind of facility was it that Dr. MacNeill worked at and what were the patients there for?"

Welch explains that the patients had severe mental disabilities. 

5:02 p.m. ET: Attorneys are reviewing jury questions with the judge. Several of Michele's sisters are in the courtroom listening to testimony.

5:01 p.m. ET: The defense has finished its questions for Welch. The prosecution address him briefly. 

"Is it fun to testify today here, Mr. Welch?" asked prosecutor Pead.

"No, it’s not," said Welch.

5:00 p.m. ET: "These kinds of medications carry risk and carry danger and they should be used carefully," said Welch.

4:59 p.m. ET: Welch says Percocet and Phenergan are prescribed together frequently. He says Michele's health was good and there were no contraindications for her to take the two medicines together. 

4:54 p.m. ET: In 2010, Welch told investigators he believed Michele called to report her blood pressure and he would have given her the go-ahead for surgery if her blood pressure was okay. Welch now says he has no record of her calling and just believes she might have called in. 

4:51 p.m. ET: Welch says he sent Michele a message after getting her lab results, which is why he may have told investigators earlier that he had seen her twice. 

4:50 p.m. ET: Spencer has approached the witness with transcripts to help him refresh his recollection. 

4:47 p.m. ET: The prosecution has finished its direct examination. Welch tells the defense MacNeill was usually animated in his day-to-day life. 

4:45 p.m. ET: "She was quiet, she didn’t have very much to say. She’d answer a question and be quiet. It was very difficult to get much history or information from her," said Welch. "I recommended that she put it off until the blood pressure was controlled... He seemed disappointed but seemed to agree with it."

On MacNeil's demeanor:

"He was a little bit animated, a little bit excited to try and get things going. At the point where I suggested things wait, there was a little bit of disappointment," said Welch.

"Did this feel abnormal to you?" asked Pead.

"A little bit, yeah," said Welch. 

4:42 p.m. ET: Welch performed an EKG as a precaution because Michele said she had heart palpitations in the past. "There was no evidence of heart disease," said Welch. 

4:40 p.m. ET: "She was in excellent health with two exceptions: She had elevated blood pressure and she had depression," said Welch. 

"I asked the defendant to leave the examining room because he was answering all the questions for her," said Welch. "She said that she was very depressed and stressed... she did not provide details." 

4:38 p.m. ET: Welch performed an EKG and blood tests on Michele during her examination. He reviewed her medical history and briefly discussed the face-lift surgery. Michele's blood pressure read high and he told her it would be good to get that under control before the surgery. 

4:36 p.m. ET: "I liked his focus on reducing medications when they weren’t necessary," Welch said in reference to how MacNeill treated the patients at the center where he worked. Welch says many of the patients were over-medicated before MacNeill became the director.  

4:35 p.m. ET: MacNeill and Welch were associated through their jobs. The attorneys are at a sidebar. 

4:34 p.m. ET: Welch performed a preoperative exam on Michele. He says Martin MacNeill asked him to do it and he points MacNeill out in the courtroom. 

4:33 p.m. ET: Welch was employed as an internal medicine physician in 2007. He is describing his qualifications. 

4:31 p.m. ET: The prosecution has called its second witness, Dr. Von Welch.

4:29 p.m. ET: Jurors have two questions for Thompson:

"Did it concern you that Martin was acting as the primary care physician for Michele?"

"Yeah, I thought that was a little bit unusual," responded Thompson.

And also: "Did you raise any objections or concerns with Martin or Michele about that?"

"No, and also he consulted with another physician so that made me feel better," said Thompson. 

4:27 p.m. ET: The prosecution has finished its redirect examination. The jurors are now writing down their questions for Thompson. 

4:23 p.m. ET: Pain medication should also cause someone's anxiety to go down, according to Thompson. 

4:22 p.m. ET: Thompson believes Michele was using the medications he prescribed less and less after the surgery based on their post-operative exams. He says there's no reason Michele should have taken Ambien, a sleep medication, in the morning. 

4:20 p.m. ET: The defense has finished its cross-examination of Thompson. The prosecutor is asking more questions. 

4:12 p.m. ET: Thompson says you probably could give all the medications together but that it's not normally done that way, you should give each medication individually and then assess before giving another one. 

4:10 p.m. ET: It's not common for a powerful combination of drugs to be given to a patient simultaneously, according to Thompson. The defense attorney approaches him with a transcript of his testimony from a preliminary hearing where he says doctors do it all the time. 

4:01 p.m. ET: Thompson says it’s common for Phenergan and Percocet to be prescribed together. 

3:52 p.m. ET: "You considered Martin very protective of Michele, didn't you?" asked Spencer. "Yes, I did," testified Thompson.

3:48 p.m. ET: Thompson testified that nothing caused him any concern about going forward with Michele's surgery. He also observed Martin and Michele "going back and forth" playfully.

3:45 p.m. ET: Cross-examination of Thompson has begun by defense attorney Randy Spencer.

3:41 p.m. ET: Thompson attended Michele's funeral. 

3:38 p.m. ET: On April 11, the following day, he received an urgent phone call from Martin telling him Michele had been found unresponsive and died. "I just don't like to have complications with my patients," said Thompson. "I wondered how this could have happened."  He first thought it could have been a pulmonary embolus. He later asked Michele's family about the medications she had been taking.

3:35 p.m. ET: Seven days after surgery, Thompson saw Michele again. They were both happy with how the results were coming along.  

3:31 p.m. ET: The next time I saw her was on April 6. Michele was not able to open her eyes due to swelling and, according to Thompson, “That’s quite normal."

3:26 p.m. ET: The next morning Michele was “quite swollen in the face,” said Thompson. Her drains were removed and “she was talking to me.” he said.

3:20 p.m. ET: Deputy County Attorney Jared Perkins asked Thompson about Michele’s surgery. Thompson recalls it taking about 8 hours. Michele stayed overnight. Thompson does not recall if anyone requested she be discharged early.

3:10 p.m. ET: The jury is being seated. The prosecution will continue its direct examination of Thompson.

2:05 p.m. ET: The judge has dismissed jurors for lunch. Court will resume at 3:05 p.m. ET.

2:02 p.m. ET: Thompson describes the procedures he performed on Michele: A lower face lift, which involves an incision in front of the ear going behind the ear.  A mid-face lift, where the incisions are in the hair line – “That’s a deeper access surgery were I go down next to the bone,” said Thompson. Using that same incision he did a forehead lift. He also did surgery on the upper and lower eyelids. 

1:59 p.m. ET: "She did indicate that she didn’t like to take medication in general and she was going to try and minimize the medication she took," said Thompson. Michele's surgery took place on April 3, 2007. Martin MacNeill was there and Thompson can't remember if anyone else was present. 

1:58 p.m. ET: Thompson said he wouldn't trust a lay person with the medications he prescribed for Michele.

"I just don’t trust their ability to be able to use the medications properly. And, they just don’t need it," said Thompson.

The reason he did it is because "Martin was a physician and he asked me for these things and he mentioned all the concerns he had. He said, 'I just want to have all the options available to me.' And I felt like because he was a physician I was willing to do that," said Thompson.

"Would you have entrusted Michele with these drugs on her own?" asked the prosecutor.

"Not the ones I had prescribed," said Thompson.

1:55 p.m. ET: If someone has pain and nausea, Thompson advises them to only take the pain medication, which can help them not feel the nausea. 

"Typically we just recommend one thing at a time," said Thompson. 

1:53 p.m. ET: Thompson describes the therapeutic dose as the amount prescribed to achieve the desired effect.

"So is it safe to say this combination could be dangerous?" asked the prosecutor. 

"Yes," said Thompson.

1:49 p.m. ET: Someone would have to be in liver failure in order for them to not be able to handle the medications, according to Thomson. Michele didn't show any signs of being in liver failure. 

1:47 p.m. ET: "I'm very careful about instructions I give to people pre-operatively about the medications and their reactions," said Thompson. 

1:42 p.m. ET: Thompson also prescribed Valium and Percocet for Michele.

"That was because Martin indicated to me that he was very concerned about his wife, that she didn’t handle pain well, that she got very anxious and he was just concerned that she wouldn’t do well without having these other options available,” Thompson said. 

1:38 p.m. ET: These are the medications Thompson normally prescribes patients: Vicodin or a hydrocodone/acetaminophen mix, an antibiotic, a sleeping medication called Ambien, a steroid, an eye ointment and occasionally something for nausea.

Thompson says MacNeill really wanted the nausea medication -- Phenergan -- for his wife.

"I’m really concerned about my wife, she gets nauseated easily, she gets anxious, I want to make sure I have everything I need," MacNeill allgedly told him.

1:34 p.m. ET: "I think with regard to some of the – more of the medical side – Michele always deferred to Martin on those issues," said Thompson.

1:30 p.m. ET: "I know she was nervous about surgery… I want to make sure that someone is comfortable before we do something like this," said Thompson. "I feel like she was comfortable, ready to go, but nervous." Michele was scheduled to have surgery on her forehead, mid-face and lower-face. 

1:28 p.m. ET: Michele, Martin and their daughter Alexis, who was going to medical school, all attended the preoperative visit on April 1, 2007.

1:27 p.m. ET: "Martin mentioned to me that he thought she had some high blood pressure and he actually had her seeing another physician for that," said Thompson. MacNeill allegedly told Thompson the other doctor was putting her on blood pressure medications. Thompson never followed up with that other physician. 

1:21 p.m. ET: Thompson says MacNeill told him he was a psychiatrist. Michele was concerned about the recovery, the downtime, and the risks of the surgery, according to Thompson who also added that most patients have concerns. 

1:20 p.m. ET: The MacNeills wanted Michele to have enough time to recover from her surgery so the couple could go on a cruise.

1:17 p.m. ET: "Martin was always the dominant one in the visits and discussions," said Thompson.

1:15 p.m. ET: "It was kind of a back and forth between Martin and Michele. In the initial consultation she approached concerns she was starting to see some changes she was interested in correcting or preventing from progressing further," said Thompson. Regarding MacNeill, Thompson said "he kind of took the lead from a medical stand point with the things we talked about." The consultation took place March 22, 2007.

1:13 p.m. ET: The MacNeills responded to an ad that Thompson placed in the newspaper for Botox. He believes that it was Martin MacNeill who called the office. 

1:11 p.m. ET: Thompson says he's an ear, nose and throat doctor who decided to take additional training in facial plastic surgery.

1:09 p.m. ET: Thompson says where he works and gives his educational background.

1:07 p.m. ET: The prosecution has called it's first witness, Dr. Scott Thompson. He is Michele's plastic surgeon. 

1:05 p.m. ET: The jury is being seated.

12:43 p.m. ET: The judge tells attorneys no witnesses are allowed to be in the courtroom before they testify. Court is in recess. 

12:40 p.m. ET: The jurors have been dismissed for a 15 minute recess. 

12:39 p.m. ET: "The prosecution's perception is not supported by proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Martin MacNeill is innocent ladies and gentlemen," said Gustin as she wrapped up. She asked jurors to find MacNeill not guilty. 

12:37 p.m. ET: Gustin tells jurors to listen to the evidence: MacNeill had Michele's pills counted and recorded before being destroyed. The wet spot in the bedroom that his son's girlfriend noticed was where rescuers were working on Michele, according to Gustin. She also says Martin found Michele in the tub with her feet sticking out, not draped over the tub with her head in the water. 

12:35 p.m. ET: MacNeill was receiving a safety award and talking to people at the safety fair when Michele likely died in the tub at around 11:30 a.m. 

12:30 p.m. ET: Gustin says the inmates who will testify have checkered pasts and motives -- they have been given certain things to testify against MacNeill. 

12:27 p.m. ET: Prosecutors suggested MacNeill faked a limp at Michele's funeral to prove he was unable to lift her body. Gustin says MacNeill has HNPP and that he had three surgeries on his toe in the months before his wife's death.

Regarding the couple's daughter, Alexis: "She’ll take something with a morsel of truth and she’ll exaggerate it," said Gustin. 

12:23 p.m. ET: The memory of many witnesses has been tainted by time, according to Gustin. Many can't remember what Michele was wearing that morning. 

12:21 p.m. ET: Gustin also says there's no evidence to suggest there was a struggle, no needle marks on Michele's body and Michele's daughter, Alexis, said her mom wasn't taking medications from Martin MacNeill anymore.

"Investigators cherry-picked certain parts of Martin’s life… the investigators engaged in practices that were not aimed at finding the truth," said Gustin. Many witnesses were improperly interviewed together, were told what other witnesses said and were told about police theories, according to Gustin. 

12:18 p.m. ET: Prosecutors hired another expert, Dr. Joshua Perper, to counter the opinion of the medical examiner, according to Gustin. Perper said he believes she drowned but agrees there's evidence to support her heart disease may have caused the arrhythmia that led to her drowning, according to Gustin. 

12:12 p.m. ET: The manner of Michele's death was later switched to undetermined, according to Gustin, never homicide. She is now going through the medications found in Michele's system and giving the different names for them.

12:08 p.m. ET: The drugs found in Michele's system were low and within therapeutic range, according to Gustin. She also says Michele had fatty liver disease.

"The investigators didn't like the science in this case so they tried to get around it," said Gustin. 

12:06 p.m. ET: "The damage to Michele's heart couldn't have been caused by Martin MacNeill and it couldn't have been known by Martin MacNeill," said Gustin. "None of the medical examiners believe Michele's death was due to a homicide."

12:03 p.m. ET: The real culprit in Michele's death is heart disease, according to Gustin. 

12:02 p.m. ET: Defense attorney Susanne Gustin begins her opening statement with one of Aesop's fables. She says we shouldn't jump to conclusions or let emotions cloud judgment. She says it's natural to believe MacNeill is a jerk after hearing about his affair but tells jurors to look at the evidence. 

11:59 a.m. ET: The prosecutor concludes by telling the jurors to find MacNeill guilty.

11:56 a.m. ET: Five people "with checkered pasts" will testify about what happened to Michele the day she died, in MacNeill's own words, according to Pead. He allegedly told some inmates that the cops couldn't prove a case against him and that his late wife was the b-word. MacNeill shakes his dead as Pead speaks. 

11:53 a.m. ET: A doctor has determined that Michele drowned because she was found in a tub, expelled fluid and made gurgling sounds when rescuers were performing CPR, according to Pead. He also says a doctor will testify that the drugs found in her system would have severely depressed her nervous system and made her unable to respond to threats to her safety. 

11:50 a.m. ET: Gypsy Willis moved into the family's basement. MacNeill and Gypsy would leave the house together for days at a time, according to Pead. A few weeks after Michele's death, Gypsy began looking for engagement rings. MacNeill proposed in July 2007 and told his family he was planning to marry Gypsy, who he called "Jillian." 

11:48 a.m. ET: MacNeill brought his daughter, Rachel, to church one day to pray for a nanny. Gypsy Willis was there and introduced herself as "Jillian," a nurse. Pead said MacNeill asked for her number even though he had already called and texted her hundreds of times before. When the family went to find a nanny, four women applied but only Gypsy Willis was interviewed. The family had become suspicious MacNeill was having an affair with her, according to Pead. When they expressed their doubts, MacNeill told them he was tired of having his children rule his life. 

11:45 a.m. ET: At Michele's funeral, MacNeill remarked about "how odd it was to be a bachelor again." He was also "jovial" and smiling, according to Pead. Gypsy Willis, MacNeill's alleged mistress, was present at the funeral. 

When MacNeill went back to work later that week wearing a different wedding ring, he told questioning co-workers "it was an old ring that he hadn’t worn in awhile," according to Pead. 

11:42 a.m. ET: When one of MacNeill's daughters said she was going to quit her job to take care of the younger children, MacNeill said he was planning to hire a nanny.

11:40 a.m. ET: The afternoon of Michele's death, MacNeill told his son and his son's girlfriend that he wanted her pills disposed of because "the defendant could not bear to look at them anymore," according to Pead. MacNeill told his daughter, who arrived later that day, that the police must have taken the medications. 

MacNeill showed his children how he found Michele, with her body draped over the tub and her head face-down in the tub. No other witness saw her body in that position, according to Pead. 

11:38 a.m. ET: At the hospital, MacNeill continued to pace, kicked in anger and said he told Michele not to get the surgery. He also told the doctor he'd pay him $10,000 if he'd continue to resuscitate his wife. 

"At 1:03 p.m., Michele MacNeill was officially pronounced dead," said Pead.

11:36 a.m. ET: Rescuers said MacNeill was pacing and saying peculiar things like: "Why did she have the surgery? Why did she take all those medications? I told her not to do it. I’m a doctor – she’s dead. I’ve been a bishop. I pay tithing and this is the way you repay me." At one point he was asked to leave. He told investigators that he left to run an errand and found Michele slumped over the side of the bathtub. No other witnesses saw Michele's body in this position. 

11:33 a.m. ET: "The bathtub was drained, but wet... she was only partially dressed," said Pead. He says Michele had a mucous-like substance around her face and Martin MacNeill was wearing a white lab coat. 

A female neighbor was summoned by the couple's 6-year-old daughter. She offered to help pull Michele out but MacNeill said he needed a "man's help," according to Pead.

"Why would you do such a thing? All this for a stupid surgery? I told her not to do it. Why did you have to have this surgery?" witnesses heard MacNeill say as they performed CPR. They never saw Michele's chest rise as MacNeill did mouth-to-mouth. They also say the mucous was not transferred from her mouth to MacNeill's mouth. 

Rescuers who worked on Michele in the home said she expelled water from her stomach. 

11:27 a.m. ET: Pead is playing the 911 call MacNeill made the morning Michele died. The dispatcher tells MacNeill to calm down. MacNeill hangs up at one point and the dispatcher calls him back. Click here to listen to MacNeill's 911 call.

When the call reconnects, MacNeill tells the dispatcher he's a physician and is doing CPR. The line goes dead again. 

11:35 a.m. ET: The morning Michele died, MacNeill "appeared to be in a rush, which was uncharacteristic for him," according to Pead. MacNeill normally didn't care about the annual Safety Fair, which was going on that day, and told someone he needed to have his picture taken, according to Pead. 

11:23 a.m. ET: Michele's daughter was by her mom's side after the surgery. One night, "Alexis did not want to leave her mom, but the defendant insisted," said Pead.

The next morning, Alexis found her mom "very sedated, she would not wake up." Martin MacNeill allegedly told her he probably overmedicated her mother. Alexis insisted on taking care of her mom from there. Michele allegedly asked Alexis to "help her feel the pills, so she would know which is which."

Alexis also overheard her parents fighting about Gypsy, with her mom saying she wasn't going to let it go. 

11:18 a.m. ET: The doctor who gave Michele her preoperative examine said he was having a tough time because "the defendant was butting in, answering for her," said Pead. When the doctor suggested the face-life be delayed because of Michele's high blood pressure, "the defendant was disappointed with this recommendation." Pead says Michele wanted to delay the surgery but Martin MacNeill pushed her forward, saying it was already paid for.

Martin MacNeill pushed Michele's surgeon to prescribe additional medications for her, according to Pead. He agreed to do so because he trusted MacNeill, who is a family physician. 

11:14 a.m. ET: MacNeill is wearing glasses during Pead's opening statement.

11:12 a.m. ET: The surgeon who performed Michele's face-life will testify that "the defendant was the dominant spouse," according to Pead. The defense has made an objection and the attorneys are at a sidebar. 

11:10 a.m. ET: Prosecutor Sam Pead begins his opening statement. He describes how the couple's 6-year-old daughter, Ada, found her mother's body in the bathtub.

He then goes right into his affair with Gypsy Willis.

"This case starts a year and half before April 11, 2007, when the defendant met this person, Gypsy Willis," said Pead.

11:07 a.m. ET: The judge has finished his instructions and the attorneys are at a sidebar. 

11:05 a.m. ET: Jurors will write down any questions and hand them to the bailiff. The judge will review questions with both sides to make sure they're appropriate before having a witness answer them. 

11:03 a.m. ET: The judge has continued with the instructions. "Let me be clear," Pullan said as he told jurors they shouldn't post on social media about the trial or Google anyone involved.

11:01 a.m. ET: MacNeill is wearing a gray suit, white shirt and light blue tie. The judge is taking a few minutes to find and distribute some missing instructions to the jurors.

10:55 a.m. ET: The judge explains how witnesses will testify and answer questions from attorneys on both sides. The jury will have a chance to ask their own questions of the witnesses, much like jurors did in the Jodi Arias trial. 

10:51 a.m. ET: "The defendant has entered a plea of not guilty and denies committing these crimes," said the judge. He also tells jurors they must presume MacNeill is not guilty and that the prosecution has the burden of proof. They must prove MacNeill is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. 

10:49 a.m. ET: The judge reads and explains the charges again Martin MacNeill: Count 1 -- murder. Count 2 -- obstructing justice. 

10:46 a.m. ET: Judge Derek Pullan is giving instructions to the jury. He says the trial is expected to last five weeks, beginning at 8:30 a.m. and going until 3 p.m. local time.

10:44 a.m. ET: The jury is being seated. Prosecutors want to bring a bathtub into the courtroom. The defense says it has seen a picture of the demonstration. The prosecution doesn't plan to use it during opening statements so the judge will decide on the matter later today. 

10:42 a.m. ET: The judge is on the bench. Prosecutor Sam Pead will give the opening for the prosecution while Susanne Gustin opens for the defense.

10:37 a.m. ET: Three of Michele MacNeill's sisters and one of her nieces are present in court today.

10:33 a.m. ET: All parties are present so court should begin at any minute. The second row of the courtroom is reserved for Michele MacNeill's family members.

10:28 a.m. ET: The judge is expected to begin the morning by giving some preliminary instructions to the jurors. Opening statements will follow.

10:23 a.m. ET: Get to know the key players from this case before opening statements begin. 

10:19 a.m. ET: Some facts about jury service: Jurors will be paid $18.50 for the first day of service and $49 for each subsequent day of service. If a juror has to drive more than 50 miles to the courthouse, the court will pay $1 for each four-mile increment over 50 miles, one-way.

9:45 a.m. ET: Opening statements are scheduled to being at 10:30 a.m. ET.

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