New trial date set for Pleasant Grove doctor's murder trial
Provo • A new trial date has been set for a Pleasant Grove doctor accused of killing his wife in 2007 to continue an extramarital affair.
A five-week trial is set to start Oct. 5 for Martin MacNeill, charged with first-degree felony murder and obstructing justice, a second-degree felony.
This is the second time a trial date has been set in the case. MacNeill's case was originally slated to go to trial last March, but that was sidetracked after his defense attorneys filed a motion in December asking 4th District Judge Samuel McVey to dismiss the murder case or disqualify the Utah County Attorney's Office from overseeing it based on their allegation that prosecutors intentionally withheld nearly 1,000 pages of documents, some of which they say could support MacNeill's innocence.
McVey denied their bid to dismiss the case, but allowed them to present evidence on Wednesday to argue that the county attorney's office should be disqualified from the case based on the accusation that prosecutors purposefully withheld information from them.
However, McVey did not rule on the motion on Wednesday, because prosecutors still needed time to file a response to the motion. A written rule is expected, prosecutors said.
Attorneys Randy Spencer and Susanne Gustin subpoenaed two investigators who worked on the case over the last four years, along with a paralegal who compiled information to give to the defense attorneys and MacNeill's daughter, Alexis Somers.
Investigators Doug Witney and Jeff Robinson both denied on the stand the they intentionally withheld evidence. Paralegal Chelsea Crawford, who compiled the discovery to give to Spencer and Gustin, testified that she had given all of the documents that she felt were proper, not realizing that a number of documents in a subfile were not handed over.
Robinson testified that had Spencer or Gustin gone through the case file in his office, as they had been invited to on several occasions, they could have easily found the missing files in question.
"I was more than happy to help you discover anything you felt like was missing," Robinson told Spencer from the stand. "And I really believed that had we taken the time, we would have found the information â¦ I felt that we had a good relationship and we could have worked through that."
During Wednesday's hearing, Spencer also brought up allegations that investigators tried to interview MacNeill without his attorney present, leaked information to the media and that both investigators and prosecutors became unusually and unprofessionally close to MacNeill's daughters during the course of the investigation.
"I think when you have a victim in a case like this, you try to help them along," Robinson testified. "You show kindness and you show love. Not in a sense of intimacy, but as far as friendship. I didn't see anything out of the ordinary, just being kind, friendly and warm."
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, the day his wife was found dead in her bathtub, MacNeill called 911, but allegedly lied to the dispatcher about performing resuscitation and lied to police about events surrounding her death in an effort to hinder, delay or prevent any investigation, according to the charges.
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.
MacNeill has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and obstruction of justice. He is due back in court on July 15, where his attorneys will ask the judge to lower his $1 million cash-only bail.
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