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'I thought he loved us,' daughter testifies against her father

Published: Friday, Oct. 5 2012 7:21 p.m. MDT

She spoke with her mother the next morning, the day she died.

"She was happy and pleasant. She said my father's being so sweet to her. I just remember feeling so relieved because I knew of their conflict," Somers testified.

Hours later, she got a "frantic" and "bizarre" voice message from her father.

"He said, 'You need to call your mother. She's not listening to me. She's getting out of bed, she's not resting.' It took me back a little bit, because it was strange. I saw her the day before. I talked to her earlier in the day and she was back to her routine. She was feeling fine."

Somers began calling her mother's cellphone and the home phone. Eventually, her dad answered.

"He said, 'Your mother's not breathing. She's in the tub. I've called police,'" Somers testified. "I dropped everything, all my bags, and ran to my car and started driving to the airport." She knew her mother was dead by the time she landed and drove straight home to look for the medication. She said she immediately asked her father where the medication was, and he told her: "I don't know. Maybe the police took it."

Where are the pills?

Eileen Heng told a different story Friday, saying MacNeill was very aware of the medication. Heng, who was dating Somers' brother, Damian MacNeill, testified that she went to the MacNeill home shortly after Michele MacNeill died. She asked what she could do to help and Martin MacNeill asked her to retrieve his wife's medication. Heng said Martin and Damian MacNeill counted the pills and Martin MacNeill made notes and then asked Heng to flush the medication down the toilet, which she did.

Somers said she could not find the medication, nor could she find the detailed notes she had taken about what her mother took, ate and drank during the week prior.

Not long after, Somers said she had several conversations with her father about his desire to hire a nanny for the younger children, which Somers said she didn't understand because of the help available within the family, friends and community. Within two or three weeks after her mother's death, she said he called her.

"He said, 'Alexis, I found the perfect nanny,'" Somers testified. "I said,' What's her name?' He said, 'I don't really know. I think it's Gillian?' I said, 'Dad. Gypsy Gillian Willis? I know that woman. … You are not to bring her into the home.' He was irate. 'How dare you? That's so vile.' It was crazy. Then he hung up on me."

By the time Somers moved home for the summer, Willis had moved into the home and was sleeping in Somers' bedroom. In early June, she said Martin MacNeill texted his adult daughters and chastised them for "being mean to Gypsy" and then "one by one started saying, ‘Get out of the house.'" She said he had them removed for trespassing.

She confronted her father about Willis multiple times and said he always denied they were romantically involved. But after she asked him about something a neighbor had reported seeing involving the two, he told her, "We're going to get married in the temple."

Case resumees Tuesday

MacNeill, 56, is accused of overmedicating his wife and administering a "dangerous combination" of drugs and drowning her in the bathtub of their home. Prosecutors say he used his knowledge as a doctor and lawyer "to commit the murder and frustrate the investigation in an attempt to cover it up."

Douglas E. Rollins, a retired professor of pharmacology and toxicology, testified about four drugs found in Michele MacNeill's body: Valium, oxycodone, Phenergan and Ambien.

"I believe potentially they could be fatal in combination," he said of the prescription drugs. If not fatal, he said most people "wouldn't be functional if they took these four drugs."

While the drugs were likely taken shortly before she died, Rollins admitted the levels in her system could also mean she took the drugs regularly over several days.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com, bwest@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam, misterwestt

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