Martin MacNeill, a former doctor convicted of killing his wife in 2007, will appear in court next month as attorneys argue before a judge whether the case against him will be dismissed.
On Nov. 9, a jury convicted MacNeill, 57, of murder and obstruction of justice in the death of his wife, Michele MacNeill.
He was scheduled to be sentenced earlier this month, but the hearing was cancelled after his attorneys filed a motion asking 4th District Judge Derek Pullan to arrest judgment in the case or grant a new trial.
After a telephone conference on Thursday, Pullan set a Feb. 20 date for oral arguments related to the motion to arrest judgment.
MacNeill’s attorneys argue in their 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 federal inmate testified during Martin MacNeill’s four-week trial that the former doctor confessed to him that he drugged his wife and then drowned her a bathtub at their Pleasant Grove home on April 11, 2007.
Michele MacNeill was found unconscious in her bathtub by her 6-year-old daughter, Ada MacNeill, that day. 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. Fourth District Judge Samuel McVey denied the dismissal motion and also denied a motion to have prosecutors disqualified from the case.
Meanwhile, Martin MacNeill will be back in court Jan. 23 for oral arguments in an unrelated sexual abuse case from 2007. In that case, he is charged with forcible sexual abuse, after an adult female relative alleged 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 has also asked for that case to be dismissed, or to bar Utah County prosecutors from handling the case, arguing that the county attorney’s office released non-public information about his client to the media from 2009 through 2012 in order to generate leads in the investigation of Michele MacNeill’s death.
Defense attorney Randall Spencer said that stories published by various media outlets insinuated that Martin MacNeill was a "sexual predator" who raped multiple women and got away with it. The defense attorney alleges that Utah County Attorney’s Office investigators and prosecutors released this information and that it was an "extrajudicial statement" that prejudiced MacNeill’s due process rights. Because of this release of information, Spencer said any potential jury pool is now tainted.
The two-day sex abuse trial is set to begin on Feb. 4.
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.