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Testimony: Martin MacNeill was loud, disruptive to crews treating his wife

Published October 22, 2013 8:58 pm

Courts • Officer says doctor was "hysterical" while medics were performing CPR.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In the moments after his wife was pulled unconscious from their bathtub, Martin MacNeill's demeanor was so irregular, several police officers and responding paramedics feared for their safety as they performed CPR on 50-year-old Michele MacNeill on April 11, 2007.

"I was concerned about my safety, actually," testified Pleasant Grove police Officer Steven Brande, who sat outside the MacNeill's Pleasant Grove home with Martin MacNeill after MacNeill was asked to leave the bedroom where medics were performing CPR on his wife. "Part of that was the fact there was so much agitation there. I couldn't predict what his actions were going to be."

Pleasant Grove Fire Chief Marc Sanderson said that while his crew was working on trying to save Michele MacNeill that day, Martin MacNeill was so distracting — "He was just loud, he was giving us orders as far as treatment care," he testified Tuesday — that he had to escort the physician out of the room.

"He was very excited, very loud," Sanderson testified. "…He was disruptive to the crew."

Tuesday marked the third day of testimony in a five-week trial for Martin MacNeill, 57, who is accused of giving his wife a fatal dose of prescription pills after she came home to recover from cosmetic surgery in 2007.

Jessica Miller tweets from courthouse

The testimony Tuesday centered around the law enforcement and paramedics who responded to the MacNeill home after Martin MacNeill called 911, exclaiming that his wife had fallen into the tub. All six police and fire officials who testified Tuesday described Martin MacNeill as being loud, disruptive and angry while they were at the home.

"He was hysterical," Pleasant Grove police officer Dan Beckstrom testified of Martin MacNeill's demeanor after officers arrived at his home. "He was blurting out things like, 'Why did you have to have this surgery, why are you on so many medications, why God?' He was pacing about in and out of the home."

Michele MacNeill was found unconscious in the bathtub by her 6-year-old daughter, fully clothed and face-up, according to the girl's preliminary hearing testimony. The child went to a neighbor to get help, and eventually Michele MacNeill was pulled from the bathtub by a neighbor and Martin MacNeill. The two attempted CPR before medical crews arrived.

Michele MacNeill was taken to a nearby hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

Prosecutors allege that Martin MacNeill killed his wife in order to continue an affair with a woman named Gypsy Willis. Though the Utah County Attorney's Office began investigating the case in 2008, Martin MacNeill was not charged with murder and obstruction of justice until 2012.

In other testimony Tuesday, Steve Mickelson, a co-worker of Martin MacNeill's at the Utah State Developmental Center, said MacNeill returned to work sooner than would be expected after his wife's death, taking only a few days away from his job.

He seemed calm, Mickelson testified.

And he was wearing a new wedding band.

Instead of the gold band that Mickelson, a nurse practioner, usually saw on MacNeill's left hand, the physician was now wearing a new, mostly black band.

Mickelson testified that when he asked Martin MacNeill about his wife's death, MacNeill told him his wife was found face-down, the "wrong way" in the tub.

The state medical examiner has never ruled Michele MacNeill's death a homicide. After an autopsy in 2007, her manner of death was ruled "natural," the result of "chronic hypertension and myocarditis, which are capable of causing acute unexpected arrhythmia and sudden death.

But investigations say Martin MacNeill called the medical examiner multiple times and gave misleading information. In 2010, in a new investigative report, Chief Medical Examiner Todd Grey changed the cause of death to the combined effects of heart disease and drug toxicity. The manner of death was changed to "undetermined."

Testimony is expected to resume Wednesday in the trial.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller