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Martin MacNeill competency hearing delayed another week

Published April 28, 2014 11:14 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Provo • Though one mental health evaluator has found Martin MacNeill competent to stand trial, the former doctor's sex abuse case isn't back on track yet.

MacNeill, the former doctor recently convicted of killing his wife, appeared in court Monday for a competency review in an unrelated sex abuse case. His attorney, Randall Spencer, told the judge that only one of two evaluations were complete.

"My client initially refused to meet with them," Spencer said of the mental health evaluators. "And then he changed his opinion."

Spencer said the completed report found MacNeill competent to stand trial and said that they would agree to that conclusion and move forward with scheduling a trial. However, prosecutors said they wanted the second evaluation done.

MacNeill will be back next Monday for another competency review.

MacNeill's daughter, Alexis Somers, said outside of court that she "knows" her father is competent.

"I think this is just another delay tactic by him and Randy Spencer," she said.

MacNeill is charged with one count of forcible sexual abuse, stemming from allegations that in 2007 he put his hands down an adult female relative's pants.

A competency evaluation was ordered in January after Spencer filed a motion saying he didn't think his client was competent to stand trial in the sex abuse case. He argued in the motion that MacNeill's mental and physical health have deteriorated while he has been on suicide watch at the Utah County jail.

On Nov. 9, a jury convicted MacNeill, 57, of first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony obstruction of justice in the death of his wife, Michele MacNeill.

But MacNeill has not yet been sentenced for the murder conviction because Spencer filed a motion to arrest judgment in the case. In the motion, Spencer argues that a federal inmate lied on the stand about a possible early release he received in exchange for his testimony, and that prosecutors did not disclose that a deal was in the works.

But 4th District Judge Derek Pullan has ruled that arguments on that motion can't go forward until the competency issue is resolved in the sex abuse case.

Prosecutors have said in court papers that no "secret deal" had been planned and implied that the inmate may have been released, in part, due to concerns for his safety after Spencer apparently addressed the inmate by name inadvertently during the trial — which was being broadcast live by CNN.

The federal inmate testified during MacNeill's four-week trial that the defendant confessed to him that he drugged his 50-year-old wife, then drowned her a bathtub at their Pleasant Grove home on April 11, 2007.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller