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Judge won't dismiss sex abuse charges against former doctor

Published June 16, 2014 7:17 pm

Courts • Martin MacNeill, convicted of killing his wife, is accused of sexually abusing a family member.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Provo • A judge on Monday refused to dismiss a charge of forcible sex abuse against Martin MacNeill, the former doctor recently convicted of murdering his wife.

MacNeill's attorney, Randall Spencer, had asked 4th District Judge Samuel McVey to dismiss the sex abuse case, arguing that the charge should be dismissed because of loss of evidence. According to the motion, a 2007 audio recording of the police interview with the alleged victim was inadvertently deleted after the recorder was placed into another case file.

Spencer argued in court on Monday that the audio recording was needed to defend MacNeill in what he deemed a "he-said, she-said sort of case."

"There's much more on this recorded statement that we'll never have and we just won't get," Spencer argued.

But Deputy Utah County Attorney David Sturgill argued that while the recorded interview may have provided "useful information," there is no indication that the interview was a critical piece of evidence in the case.

"There's been no evidence that there was any bad faith on the state's part or even on the part of the Pleasant Grove police," Sturgill said. "It is truly unfortunate, but it does not rise to the level of bad faith."

McVey said before denying the motion that he felt that while there was some negligence in deleting the file, it was not "gross negligence" and it was not done in "bad faith."

In the sex abuse case, MacNeill is charged with one count of forcible sexual abuse, stemming from allegations that in 2007 he put his hands down a woman relative's pants. A two-day trial is set to begin in July.

Spencer said in court that MacNeill denies that the alleged sex abuse occurred, and said that his defense will be "that it did not happen."

The judge also denied a motion to change venue for the sex abuse trial on Monday, and denied a motion to disqualify Utah County prosecutors from handling the case.

On Nov. 9, a jury convicted MacNeill of first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony obstruction of justice in the 2007 death of his wife, Michele MacNeill.

His sentencing in the murder case has been delayed, after his attorney filed a motion to arrest judgment — arguing 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.

The federal inmate testified during MacNeill's four-week trial that the defendant confessed to him that he drugged his 50-year-old wife, then drowned her in a bathtub at their Pleasant Grove home on April 11, 2007.

A judge will hear arguments in the murder case on June 30.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller