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(Al Hartmann | Tribune file photo) Martin MacNeill, a doctor accused of murdering his wife, appears in 4th District Court in Provo in October. A judge on Monday ruled that for the first time in Utah, TV cameras will be allowed to live broadcast a criminal court trial when MacNeill faces a jury in mid-October.
Murder hearing: Daughter claims dad overmedicated mom
Court » Woman testifies pills vanished the day her mom died.
First Published Oct 05 2012 10:53 am • Last Updated Jan 14 2013 11:31 pm

Provo »On the day of her mother’s death, the first thing Alexis Somers did after her plane touched down in Utah was rush to her family’s home and into her mother’s bedroom, searching for bottles of medication and a notebook in which she had kept meticulous notes of how her mother had been medicated.

Somers, a medical student, had been taking care of her mother, Michele MacNeill, after her mother had a facelift.

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"[There was] nothing," she testified in 4th District Court on Friday. "No pills. The hospital bed was gone. … Everything that was in there the day before was gone, including her medication, which I went specifically looking for."

She said she immediately confronted her father, Martin MacNeill — who is accused of killing his wife in order to free himself to have a relationship with a mistress. Her father said he thought the police might have taken the items while they were investigating the death of Michele MacNeill , who was found in a bathtub in the family’s Pleasant Grove home on April 11, 2007.

But Eileen Heng, an ex-girlfriend of MacNeill’s son, Dameon, testified during MacNeill’s preliminary hearing Friday that her boyfriend’s father instructed her to flush the medication down the toilet that same April day, after Dameon and his father took a count of all of the pills left in the prescription bottles.

Somers said she never found those bottles or the black notebook logging how her mother was medicated.

Somers was concerned because the day after her mother’s facelift, on April 5, 2007, she felt her father had overmedicated her mother.

Somers had flown in from Nevada during her spring break to care for her mother after the surgery. She had kept a journal of exactly how much medication her mother was taking, and what she ate, down to the last drop of water that her mother drank.

"I was just trying to take really good care of her," she said. "My mom was kind of like my patient. I was giving her her medication, helping her go to the bathroom, things like that."

That evening, Somers said her father sent her from the bedroom, saying that he would care for his wife that night. Somers stayed in a bedroom nearby with her little sister, Ada. When she woke up in the morning, she found her mother unresponsive.

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"She was completely out of it," Somers testified. "She was very sedated. I tried to wake her up and she wouldn’t wake up."

When she asked her father why her mother wouldn’t wake up, he admitted that he may have overmedicated her.

"I said, ‘I am going to be in charge of her medication now,’ " Somers said she told her father. "You are not to give her any more."

He didn’t argue with her, Somers said.

Somers said when her mother woke up in the early evening that night, she was fearful.

"She said, ‘Alexis, I don’t know why, but your dad kept giving me pills, giving me medication,’ " she said. " ‘I started to throw up and he kept giving me pills, saying take this, take this.’ "

In August of this year, MacNeill, a 56-year-old doctor, was charged with first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony obstruction of justice.

MacNeill allegedly gave his 50-year-old wife a deadly mixture of prescription drugs so he could continue an affair with a woman named Gypsy Jillian Willis.

After the hearing ends next week, Judge Samuel McVey will decide if there is enough evidence to order MacNeill to stand trial on the charges.

During Friday’s hearing, Somers and her father never acknowledged one another, or even so much as locked eyes. She looked in his direction only when asked to identify him inside the courtroom.

Somers also testified that her father told her on the day of her mother’s death that he had found his wife face-down in the tub, with her legs sticking out, as if she had slipped and fallen head first into the tub. But a number of people, including neighbors and the young daughter who found Michele MacNeill that day, testified this week that the woman was lying on her back, her body fully inside the bathtub, when they first saw her.

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