Former Utah doctor Martin MacNeill was in a hurry the morning his wife died, told an emergency room physician he’d pay him $10,000 to save her and asked his son’s girlfriend to flush her meds, according to witnesses who testified in his trial Wednesday.
MacNeill has pleaded not guilty to murder and obstruction of justice charges in the death of his wife, Michele. Prosecutors say he drugged and drowned his wife so he could continue an affair with his mistress, Gypsy Willis. Defense attorneys say Michele wasn’t murdered and that she died of natural causes.
Wednesday marked the fourth day of testimony inside the Provo, Utah, courtroom. The emergency room physician who tried to resuscitate Michele MacNeill once she arrived at the hospital on April 11, 2007, said her husband offered him big bucks to continue life-saving efforts on his wife.
“I think as a physician he already knew his wife was dead. I’m not sure why he made that comment, just struck me as very odd and still remains odd as I think about it,” said Dr. Scott VanWagoner, who called the request “off the wall” and “completely unusual.”
Colleagues who worked with Martin MacNeill at the Developmental Center said he was rushed the morning of his wife’s death and that his demeanor was “business as usual” when he returned to work less than a week later.
“He told me he needed his picture taken. I asked him what for and he said, 'I’ve received some type of award at the safety fair,'” said David Laycock of MacNeill's actions the day of his wife's death. “He was adamant … he seemed determined."
Melissa Frost, the person in charge of the fair, said Martin MacNeill usually showed little interest in the annual event. On the morning of April 11, 2007, however, she said he was intent on showing up to receive an award. She said she even had to move the ceremony up 30 minutes to accommodate his schedule.
When MacNeill returned to work just a few days after his wife’s death, Gayla Moore, another former co-worker, asked him how he was.
“He said, ‘Everything will be fine, everything’s just fine.’ He seemed happy to me. He was just fine, he seemed happy,” said Moore.
When her lifeless body was found in a bathtub by the couple’s 6-year-old daughter, Michele MacNeill had a powerful cocktail of drugs in her system, including Valium, Percocet, Phenergan and Ambien. She had been prescribed the medications as part of her recovery from the face-lift surgery she'd undergone days earlier.
Eileen Heng, who was dating Martin MacNeill’s son at the time, said she arrived at the family’s home shortly after Michele’s death. She testified about watching Martin MacNeill count his wife’s pills while his son, Damian MacNeill, wrote them down on a list.
“Martin seemed frustrated and he’s like, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’ and he asked me to flush the pills down the toilet,” said Heng. It took one flush; There were between five and 10 bottles’ worth of pills, according to Heng.
MacNeill's murder trial is expected to take place over about five weeks. If convicted, he could face life behind bars.