Murder hearing: Doctor gave extra meds to Martin MacNeill's wife at MacNeill's request

Witnesses testify of day Michele MacNeill died in her Pleasant Grove home

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 3 2012 6:00 p.m. MDT

Martin MacNeill, 56, who is charged with murdering his wife, appears in 4th District Court in Provo Wednesday Oct. 3, 2012, for the first day of a preliminary hearing.

Al Hartmann,

PROVO — Martin MacNeill was the "stronger" personality, the "dominant" personality, the one who neighbors talked to and the one who commanded conversations with the doctors who worked with his wife, Michele, witnesses testified Wednesday.

He taught Sunday School classes. She wrote on the board for him in her beautiful calligraphy. He answered questions about her medical history for her as she deferred to him. Neighbors who often talked to Martin MacNeill, 56, said they don't remember doing much more than exchanging casual pleasantries with his wife.

But the man was largely quiet Wednesday as he sat in 4th District Court while Judge Samuel McVey heard evidence in the case against him. The Pleasant Grove doctor sat with his face tight and his lips terse as multiple witnesses took the stand to testify about the day Michele MacNeill, 50, died in her home.

Prosecutors say MacNeill murdered his wife by over-medicating her with a "dangerous combination" of drugs and drowned her in the bathtub of their home.

The couple's 11-year-old daughter took the stand Wednesday and recalled how her dad picked her up from kindergarten on April 11, 2007, and how she immediately went in the house to see her mother. She found her lying in the bathtub and immediately went to get her father.

He asked the then 6-year-old to call 911.

"I didn't know how to dial it," Ada MacNeill testified. "He told me to get the neighbors or someone to help."

As she ran next door, Martin MacNeill called 911. In the brief, truncated recordings, he is shouting his responses to dispatchers' questions. He yelled that his wife was unconscious and under water and that she'd had surgery about a week before.

Kristi Daniels answered the door when Ada came by asking for help. She said she ran over to the MacNeill house and then ran back for a friend and her phone in order to call  her husband to help. She performed chest compressions as MacNeill performed mouth-to-mouth.

"He seemed calm to me — not frantic, but under control," she said.

Angela Aguilar, who ran to the home with Daniels, said MacNeill was talking to his wife as they tried to resuscitate her.

"He told her not to do this," she testified. "That she shouldn't have done this or something like that."

He later reported to Daniels that his wife had died of a heart problem and that it was "nobody's fault."

Dr. Von Welch, a physician in internal medicine, said he was asked by Martin MacNeill to perform an examination on his wife, Michele, in advance of a planned cosmetic surgery. He said there was an urgency on MacNeill's part to get the exam completed, which he did on March 29, 2007.

"My assessment was that she was in good health and had two problems," Welch testified. "One was high blood pressure, the other was depression."

He said he recommended high blood pressure medication and a test to check the woman's heart. He said she appeared emotional, was difficult to engage, and let her husband speak for her. He asked Martin MacNeill to leave at one point so he could talk to the wife alone.

"She said she had been sad in 2007," Welch said. "She expressed she was stressed and sad. She teared up briefly and had difficulty expressing why."

But Dr. Scott Thompson met with the couple for a consultation on a facial reconstruction surgery on March 22 and said they appeared to be "very happy together." He said Martin MacNeill was more "dominant," but both quickly made the decision to proceed with all of the procedures Thompson discussed with them.

Thompson said MacNeill seemed like a "protective" husband who described his wife as an anxious person with a low pain tolerance, prompting him to request stronger medications than Thompson normally prescribed.  

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