Provo • Vicki Willis was "giddy" at the idea of her daughter dating Martin MacNeill.
After all, he was a doctor and a lawyer. He was tall, had a bright, white smile, and was a very impressive person in her mind.
"We were pleased," Willis testified in Provo’s 4th District Court on Tuesday. "Who wouldn’t be?"
And in July 2007 — just three months after MacNeill’s wife was found dead in her bathtub — Vicki Willis witnessed Martin MacNeill get down on one knee and propose to her daughter, Gypsy Jyll Willis.
"They were both very happy," Vicki Willis testified. "He made a speech about his love for her and made a very public show of dropping to one knee and asking her to marry him."
Martin MacNeill, 57, is accused of giving his 50-year-old wife, Michele MacNeill, a fatal combination of prescription drugs after she came home to recover from cosmetic surgery in April 2007. Prosecutors allege the former doctor devised the deadly plan as a way to get rid of his wife to continue his relationship with Gypsy Willis, with whom he started an affair with a year and a half before his wife’s death.
Vicki Willis testified on Tuesday that Martin MacNeill once told her he never loved his wife of nearly 30 years, with whom he raised eight children.
"He said, ‘Well, I did love her as a sister, but I did not love her the way I love Gypsy,’" Vicki Willis testified.
Gypsy Willis, 37, testified on Tuesday that the day after Michele MacNeill died, she sent several photo text messages to Martin MacNeill, including one of her partially nude back and buttocks.
"There is one picture that is a little bit suggestive," Willis acknowledged.
Willis said Martin MacNeill gave her a 4.5-carat diamond engagement ring, worth about $7,000. Though the couple were never officially married, she said they presented themselves as husband and wife, and she assumed the identity of "Jillian MacNeill."
However, their marriage never happened, perhaps because they both ended up serving time in federal prison on fraud convictions in 2009. In August 2007, the couple had applied for a military identification card for Gypsy Willis, she testified Tuesday. In that application, the couple represented their marriage date as April 14, 2007 — the same day as Michele MacNeill’s funeral.
At that funeral, Michele MacNeill’s friends and family members observed Martin MacNeill acting like anything but a grieving husband.
"He was smiling, joking around," testified Linda Cluff, Michele MacNeill’s younger sister. "He was joking, saying that he was going to have to get used to living the life of a bachelor and hanging out with his buddies and golfing."
Michele MacNeill’s friend, Loreen Thompson, testified that Martin MacNeill’s speech at the woman’s funeral seemed odd to her.
"It was very different," Thompson testified. "I just remember his first comment that he made was something to the effect of, he stood there looking at his wife in a pine box. The rest of the talk he gave that day was more about his life and the hard life he’s had."
Lani Swallow, Michele MacNeill’s friend, testified that she approached Martin MacNeill on the day of the funeral — held three days after the woman’s death — and said she was out of work and could nanny the younger MacNeill children to help out. But Martin MacNeill refused.
"He said that he had already hired a nanny," Swallow testified. "That it was a nurse that he worked with."
Gypsy Willis would move into the MacNeill home eight days later as the "nanny." Though she insisted that she cared for the four young children, Gypsy Willis testified Tuesday that her sexual relationship with Martin MacNeill also continued.
"When the adult children were home, I would defer to them and go back to studying my nursing," she testified. "I did actually help with the children."
Deputy Utah County Attorney Sam Pead ended his line of questioning with Gypsy Willis on Tuesday by asking, "Are you telling us you don’t know any more about Michele’s death?"Next Page >
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