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"Michele initially didn’t want the surgery because she was overweight," Robinson wrote in the search warrant. "However, she considered that Martin was attempting to make himself look better and she believed that cosmetic surgery may help their relationship and therefore consented to it."
Michele MacNeill had a full facelift procedure on April 3, 2007. At Martin MacNeill’s request, the surgeon, Scott Thompson, gave Michele more prescription pills than he normally would, including prescriptions for Lortab, Ambien, Valium and Percocet.
— Continuing coverage
Reporter Jessica Miller will be in the courtroom throughout the trial. Follow her tweets from the courthouse: @jm_miller.
"In this case, because of the fact that Martin was a physician, I was more willing to give more extra medications than I normally would have," Thompson testified at a preliminary hearing last year.
Foul play? » A little over a week after the surgery, Michele MacNeill was dead at age 50 — discovered unconscious in a bathtub by her 6-year-old daughter on April 11, 2007.
Martin MacNeill told his daughter to go to the neighbors to get help while he called 911.
But in a recording of the 911 call, Martin MacNeill’s words are nearly inaudible as he screamed at the dispatcher for help. He gave an incorrect address and hung up on the dispatcher twice.
Michele MacNeill was declared dead at a nearby hospital. An autopsy conducted shortly after ruled her manner of death as "natural," the result of "chronic hypertension and myocarditis, which are capable of causing acute unexpected arrhythmia and sudden death."
"As soon as I heard Michele died, I had no doubt that Martin had killed her," Cluff wrote in her blog. "My whole family felt the same way."
Within a week of her sister’s death, Cluff decided to go to police because she suspected foul play. But Pleasant Grove police officers were dismissive of her claims, especially after receiving the autopsy report that the woman’s death was natural.
"I informed [the officer] that the results didn’t shock me at all," Cluff wrote of the autopsy results. "I was expecting the results to be normal. Martin would know how to hide any sort of foul play. I absolutely knew the report would not reveal any foul play."
Meanwhile, within weeks of Michele MacNeill’s death, Martin MacNeill’s lover, 31-year-old Gypsy Willis, had moved into the family home, assuming the role of nanny, according to preliminary hearing testimony last year.
After local police closed their case, Cluff and other family members went to the Utah County Attorney’s Office, sending them information, letters, and emails, asking them to further investigate Michele MacNeill’s death. In January 2008, the case was finally picked up, and in August 2012, Martin MacNeill was charged with first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony obstruction of justice.
During their investigation, Utah County Attorney’s Office investigators asked the medical examiner to look again at the autopsy report. In 2010, Chief Medical Examiner Todd Grey changed the cause of Michele MacNeill’s death to the combined effects of heart disease and drug toxicity. The manner of death was changed to "undetermined."
In recent years, other experts have also reviewed the case. A University of Utah professor of pharmacology and toxicology said he believed Michele MacNeill had taken a potentially lethal dose of medication. A medical examiner in Florida determined the immediate cause of death was drowning and that, contrary to the Utah medical examiner’s findings, there was no evidence of acute or active myocarditis.
Investigators believe Martin MacNeill gave his wife a deadly combination of prescription drugs that killed her and devised the murderous plan to get rid of his wife so he could continue an affair with Willis.
Praying for justice » Now, Michele MacNeill’s family is preparing for the trial.
Cluff wrote in her blog that listening to previous court hearings has been difficult, in part because her brother-in-law has shown no emotion — "stone-faced and cold," as she described it — during testimony of Michele MacNeill’s last moments.
"I would have expected nothing different from Martin," she wrote. "This was not a surprise. This is precisely the Martin that I have always known."Next Page >
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