Witnesses describe Martin MacNeill's 'odd' behavior at wife's death, pillow talk about killing

Published: Thursday, Oct. 4 2012 7:00 p.m. MDT

Walthall also said MacNeill told her he wrote an anonymous article in a medical journal that explained how to induce a heart attack and make it appear natural and that he talked about killing patients. He told her if he ever got caught, he wouldn't plead insane.

"I said, 'Why not?'' Walthall testified. "He said, 'Because I always know exactly what I'm doing.'"

Defense attorney Susanne Gustin asked Walthall numerous questions about her own diagnosis of dissociative identity disorder and the fact that the woman often wrote of her love for MacNeill without mentioning these alleged admissions. Walthall said she contacted police after Michele MacNeill died. She said she receives treatment for the disorder, but said it does not affect her memory or her ability to discern fact from fiction.

"I believed that Martin was a murderer and he could not stop," Walthall said of what she told police.

The MacNeills' then-6-year-old daughter testified Wednesday that she was the first to find her mother in the bathtub and remembers her being fully clothed in a jogging suit. Kristi Daniels, a neighbor who responded to the young girl's request for help, her husband, Doug Daniels, another neighbor who assisted and the two responding officers all testified that MacNeill was unclothed from the waist down when they arrived.

Ormond said Martin MacNeill was irritated when he and other officers arrived and took over CPR efforts, even though MacNeill had called 911.

"He was angry with us," Ormond said. "He was angry with what we were doing, but as paramedics arrived … he focused his anger on someone else. It was uncomfortable, honestly, having him come in and out of the room yelling at us. … It seemed that a lot of his rage was focused on Michele."

Pleasant Grove Fire Chief Marc Sanderson said MacNeill's unusual behavior "instantly" drew his attention as he arrived. He said the incident was unlike any other medical call he had responded to involving the death of a family member. He said MacNeill was shouting and trying to tell paramedics what to do.

"He was very angry, blaming, almost a rant," Sanderson said. "It was to the point where, responding as the fire chief, I had to remove Mr. MacNeill from where the resuscitation was happening, because it was distracting."

The night MacNeill died, her husband gave the couple's son an LDS blessing, neighbor Doug Daniels testified, and he seemed much more calm than he had been earlier in the day.

"He was not overly emotional," Daniels said of Martin MacNeill. "He was in control. He seemed emotionally very strong considering what was happening. I remember thinking that (he) was more in control than I would have been."

When Daniels and his wife tried to help MacNeill administer CPR earlier that day, he said the man's demeanor kept changing.

"He was very analytical sometimes, telling us what to do then telling us to stop," Daniels said. "Then he would be motionless, listening, then have an outburst over the situation. He'd stop and say, 'Why? All because of this stupid surgery! OK, continue.' I thought it was kind of strange how his mood would change."

About a month after the death, Martin MacNeill spoke in church on Mother's Day. Angela Aguilar, a neighbor who attended his LDS ward, said it was "heart-wrenching."

"I thought it took a lot of strength to speak that close after," she testified, adding that she later learned that MacNeill spoke at his own request.

Doug Daniels said MacNeill later told him that his wife had died of a heart irregularity and said "there was nothing anyone could do about it." Soon after, neighbors testified, a woman named Gillian arrived at the home to act as a nanny for his younger children. But she remained even after the children went away for a month, leading the Danielses and Aguilar to suspect that their relationship was romantic.

In the weeks before her death, prosecutors say Michele MacNeill and her daughters had become increasingly suspicious and aware of an affair he was having with Gypsy Willis, who Kristi Daniels said was another name for the woman she knew as Gillian.

A former roommate of Willis told investigators Willis made statements about killing Michele MacNeill "and even discussed specific methods of making it look like an accident," according to the charges against him.

Both MacNeill and Willis were later convicted of fraud-related crimes in federal and state court. MacNeill was released from a Texas federal prison July 6 after serving a three-year sentence for fraud, forgery and identity theft.

The preliminary hearing continues Friday morning.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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