Utah doctors accused of murdering women to appear in court today
Hearings • Both men face up to life in prison if convicted.
Published: August 12, 2013 09:43AM
Updated: August 12, 2013 05:18PM
image
Uta Von Schwedler, 49, was found dead in her Sugar House area home in 1400 block of Harrison Avenue (1365 South), on Sept. 27, 2011. Courtesy: Nils Abramson

Two doctors charged with killing women they once married will be in court on Monday.

That’s not the only similarities between the cases of Pleasant Grove doctor Martin MacNeill and Salt Lake City pediatrician John Brickman Wall, though the men are charged in separate cases in different counties. It took police and prosecutors a while to charge either man.

MacNeill, who will be in a Provo court for oral arguments on Monday, is charged with first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony obstructing justice in the 2007 death of his wife, Michele MacNeill.

According to court documents, MacNeill was having an affair at the time of his wife’s death and devised a plan to kill her in order to continue the affair.

On April 11, 2007, Michele MacNeill was found dead in her bathtub. Her husband called 911, prosecutors say, but allegedly lied about performing resuscitation and lied to police about events surrounding her death in an effort to hinder, delay or prevent any investigation.

After an autopsy in 2007, Michele MacNeill’s manner of death was ruled “natural,” the result of chronic hypertension and myocarditis. However, after a review in 2010, the manner of death was changed to “undetermined,” and attributed to heart disease and drug toxicity. Criminal charges were filed against him Aug. 24.

MacNeill’s defense attorneys have asked 4th District Judge Samuel McVey to dismiss the Utah County Attorney’s Office from the case, claiming they intentionally withheld evidence from the defense team. McVey is expected to hear further arguments about this topic on Monday, and he also will hear arguments relating to witness testimony and what will be allowed at MacNeill’s five-week trial, which is scheduled to start on Oct. 5.

Wall, 49, is charged with first-degree felony murder in the death of his ex-wife, Uta von Schwedler. He was arrested in April and is being held in the Salt Lake County jail in lieu of $1.5 million bail. He has a scheduling conference Monday in 3rd District Court. A preliminary hearing in the case is set for October.

Von Schwedler, 49, drowned in the bathtub of her Sugar House home on Sept. 27, 2011. For months, authorities struggled to determine whether the woman’s death was murder or suicide.

But expert analysis of the crime scene has revealed a violent struggle and Wall’s DNA in the home, which he did not share with his ex-wife, according to charging documents.

Wall’s attorney, Fred Metos, has denied his client killed von Schwedler. Wall also is charged with aggravated burglary.

Von Schwedler and John Wall had a contentious divorce in 2006 that led to years of custody battles over their four children, which prosecutors have cited as a motive for murder.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: jm_miller