Former Utah doctor Martin MacNeill is accused of drugging his wife, Michele MacNeill, with a powerful cocktail of prescriptions and then drowning her as she recovered from face-lift surgery in 2007.
Prosecutors say Martin MacNeill murdered his wife so he could continue an affair with his mistress, Gypsy Willis. Defense attorneys admit Martin MacNeill had the affair, but says his wife died of natural causes.
Here's what happened in the second week of testimony and what is expected in the weeks to come:
Witness: MacNeill wore new wedding ring after wife’s death
A co-worker and close friend of Martin MacNeill testified inside the Provo, Utah, courtroom Tuesday that the former doctor was wearing a new wedding band on his left ring finger less than a week after his wife’s death.
“As I recall, he had a wedding band that was somewhat non-descript – it was gold, it was round – and the ring he was wearing that day had a distinctive black stripe,” said Steven Mickelson, a nurse practitioner who worked under Martin MacNeill at the Utah State Developmental Center.
On the day of Michele MacNeill’s death, Mickelson said he raced to the MacNeill home after a co-worker told him something was wrong. When Mickelson arrived at the scene, he said Martin MacNeill handed him the phone and asked him to tell his daughter Alexis what happened to her mother.
“I couldn't bring myself to tell her that her mom was dead so I just said, ‘You got to get up here and fast, you got to get up here now,’” Mickelson testified.
A few days later, Mickelson said he was surprised to see Martin MacNeill back at work so soon considering “he had bereavement days.”
Witnesses: MacNeill ‘agitated, angry’ day of wife’s death
A flurry of witnesses took the stand Tuesday, sharing more accounts of Martin MacNeill’s allegedly odd behavior immediately following his wife’s death.
Several first responders testified Martin MacNeill was so disruptive while they tried to resuscitate his wife, he had to be removed from the scene and security was called on him later at the emergency room.
“He was just loud. He was giving us orders as far as treatment things we needed to do for Michele,” testified Marc Sanderson, Chief of the Pleasant Grove Fire Department.
“He made a comment that she [Michele] overdosed on her pain medication and also a comment on slipping in the tub and hitting her head,” Sanderson added.
“He was blurting out things like, ‘Why did you have this surgery? Why are you on so many medications? Why God?’” police officer Dan Beckstrom told the jury.
Steven Brande, a former paramedic with the Pleasant Grove Police Department, described Martin MacNeill as “very agitated, very angry,” so much so that he was concerned for his own safety.
“MacNeill would scream, ‘I’ve given the church time and money and this is what I get…look at what the surgery did to her,’” Brande added.
An officer with the Lindon Police Department who arrived at the scene that day to take photographs testified Martin MacNeill was highly animated, pleading for Michele to come back and saying, “Why did you have this f***ing surgery?”
ER doctor: MacNeill offered me $10K to save wife
Wednesday marked the fourth day of testimony inside the Provo courtroom. The emergency room physician who tried to resuscitate Michele MacNeill once she arrived at the hospital testified her husband offered him $10,000 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,” Dr. Scott Van Wagoner testified.
Colleagues: MacNeill ‘seemed happy’ after wife’s death
Colleagues who worked with Martin MacNeill at the Utah State Developmental Center testified that his demeanor was “business as usual” when he returned to work less than a week later.
When Martin MacNeill returned to work, 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.
Witness: MacNeill made me flush wife’s pills
After Michele MacNeill’s death, an autopsy report revealed the mother of eight 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-light surgery she’d undergone days earlier.
Eileen Heng, who was dating MacNeill’s son at the time, said she arrived at the family’s home shortly after Michele MacNeill’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.
Daughter: Dad’s mistress moved in two weeks after funeral
“Growing up my dad was my best friend,” Martin MacNeill’s oldest daughter testified Thursday as she cried and visibly trembled for much of her testimony against him.
Rachel MacNeill told jurors that her father moved his mistress, Gypsy Willis, into the family’s home within two weeks of her mother’s funeral.
“I expected her to be focused on the children….The children were taking care of themselves…It was very, very different than when my mother was there,” Rachel MacNeill said.
Daughter: Dad ‘adamant’ about showing me how mom found
Rachel MacNeill also said that in the hours after her mother 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 as she hunched over a similar bathtub prosecutors brought into the courtroom.
The way Rachel MacNeill said her father described the position of her mother’s body in the bathtub conflicts with the testimony of other witnesses.
Daughter: Pile of mom’s ‘bloody’ clothing found in garage
Rachel MacNeill told jurors that she found a pile of her mother’s things in the family’s garage, including towels, sheets, the clothing she was wearing when found dead in the bathtub and the stuffed animals the younger children had given her for her surgery. She called it a “big bloody mess” and said she pulled her mother’s clothes out of the pile and show them to her father.
“He [MacNeill] told me, ‘How dare you show me those things, get rid of it,’” said Rachel MacNeill. “I washed them. I washed my mother’s things. Put them in a bag and kept them then turned them over [to investigators].”
Martin MacNeill also allegedly told his daughters that he wanted an autopsy done on his wife immediately.
“It didn’t make sense to me…he specifically said to me that he was concerned there would be a police investigation – he didn’t want anyone to think he murdered my mother,” Rachel MacNeill said.
Daughter: Dad joked after mom’s funeral
Rachel MacNeill also described her father’s seemingly jovial behavior during a luncheon after her mother’s funeral.
“He was making jokes about single and just laughing – made me sick. I left,” she said.
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, Rachel MacNeill admitted she had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Toxicologist: Powerful cocktails of drugs found in Michele’s system
Dr. Gary Dawson testified Friday about the powerful cocktail of prescriptions found in Michele MacNeill’s blood at after her death: Diazepam, Nordiazepam, Oxycodone, Promethazine and Zolpadem.
The defense tried to imply that Michele MacNeill’s prior prescription drug use in 2003 would have made her more tolerant to the drugs found in her system when she died in 2007.
However, Dawson testified that someone who builds up a tolerance for a drug can go back to being “drug naïve” again, which is how he classified Michele MacNeill at the time of her death.
“There was no evidence on an ongoing basis that she was being treated with any of the drugs that she'd taken at the time of the surgery,” said Dawson.
Dawson added that if the concentrations of drugs in Michele MacNeill’s toxicology report were present in a living person, that person would be “unable to respond constructively to their environment…cognitive impairment would be profound…motor skills would be affected…they would not be alert.”
Dr. MacNeill’s mistress takes the stand
Before court came to an end Friday, prosecutors called Martin MacNeill’s mistress Gypsy Willis to the stand to testify about their relationship in the months before and after the death of his wife.
"We would see each other about a couple times a month… it was a very casual thing, just whenever we had time and it could be arranged. We probably had sex about half the time. Sometimes it was just lunch," said Willis.
Willis denied that her relationship with Martin MacNeill was heating up in the spring of 2007. But she admits that she moved closer to him in March 2007, into a property that he paid for. She also said Martin MacNeill gave her a debit card and paid for her expenses.
The prosecutor had Willis read an e-mail she sent to a potential suitor, dated March 13, 2007, which they say talks about Martin MacNeill: “I met him online a year and a half ago. We’ve always been great together… and just recently his reasoning and views changed and we are together now.”
On meeting MacNeill's daughter, Rachel, at the temple: “I was supposed to walk up and introduce myself and maybe strike up a small conversation and leave. Just an introduction.” She says she told Rachel her name was Jillian. "He wanted me to meet his family on the best possible terms."
Court is dark on Mondays so testimony is scheduled to resume Tuesday morning at 10:30 a.m. ET. Gypsy Willis will return to the stand.
Friday morning, the judge ruled MacNeill’s 12-year-old daughter, Ada, will be allowed to take the stand in his murder trial, but only after a videotaped interview she gave in 2008 is played for jurors. Ada MacNeill was 6 years old when she found her mother's lifeless body in the bathtub after returning from school with her father.