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Sentencing delayed for Martin MacNeill in murder case

First Published Jan 08 2014 11:01AM      Last Updated Jan 08 2014 12:21 pm

Martin MacNeill is seen during his trial at the Fourth District Court in Provo on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2013. MacNeill, a Pleasant Grove physician, is charged with murder for allegedly killing his wife Michele MacNeill in 2007. SPENSER HEAPS/Daily Herald

Sentencing has been delayed for Martin MacNeill, the former Pleasant Grove doctor recently convicted of killing his wife in 2007.

On Nov. 9, a jury convicted MacNeill, 57, of first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony obstruction of justice in the death of his wife, Michele MacNeill.

He was scheduled to be sentenced Thursday, but after a telephone conference Tuesday, 4th District Judge Derek Pullan cancelled the sentencing and set another telephone conference for Jan. 16.

The delay comes after MacNeill’s attorneys filed a motion asking for Pullan to arrest judgment in the case or grant a new trial. They argue in the 30-page motion that a federal inmate lied on the stand about a possible early release he received in exchange for his testimony, and that prosecutors did not disclose that a deal was in the works.



That inmate testified that Martin MacNeill confessed to him that he drugged his wife and then drowned her in the bathroom at their Pleasant Grove home on April 11, 2007.

Michele MacNeill was found unconscious in her bathtub that day by her 6-year-old daughter, Ada MacNeill. The child was sent by her father to a neighbor’s house 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, 50, was pronounced dead at American Fork Hospital.

This isn’t the first time Martin MacNeill’s attorneys have accused prosecutors of misconduct and asked for the case to be dismissed. Before trial, they alleged prosecutors withheld more than 1,000 pages of documents from defense attorneys that may have aided in Martin MacNeill’s defense. Judge Samuel McVey denied the dismissal motion and also denied a motion to have prosecutors disqualified from the case.

MacNeill will be back in court on Jan. 23 for oral arguments in an unrelated forcible sex abuse case from 2007. In that case, he is charged with forcible sexual abuse, after an adult female relative alleged that MacNeill put his hands down her pants and then asked her to sign a statement saying he did not touch her, according to court documents.

MacNeill’s attorney also has asked for that case to be dismissed, or that Utah County prosecutors be barred from handling it, arguing that prosecutors released non-public information to the media that insinuated MacNeill was a "sexual predator" who raped multiple women and got away with it.

Defense attorney Randall Spencer alleges that the information release by Utah County Attorney’s Office investigators and prosecutors was an "extrajudicial statement" that prejudiced MacNeill’s due process rights. Because of this, Spencer said any potential jury pool is now tainted.

MacNeill has been housed in the Utah County jail since his 2012 arrest, though he was briefly hospitalized in early December after he attempted suicide.

jmiller@sltrib.com

 

 

 

 

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