Murder case: Woman testifies of affair with Martin MacNeill before, after his wife's death

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 10 2012 7:43 p.m. MDT

During her testimony, Rachel MacNeill was visibly emotional — a cross between sad and apparent anger — shaking her head several times as she recalled stories about her father and what happened in the months after her mother's death.

"(Willis) didn't seemed concerned about the children at all," MacNeill said before defense attorney Susanne Gustin objected.

During her testimony, Willis contended that she had walked into a "pretty well-oiled machine," where the children already knew how to take care of themselves, but she said she helped out where she could.

The first time Rachel MacNeill met Willis was three days after her mother's funeral at the LDS Mount Timpanogos Temple in American Fork. Rachel said her father had requested that she meet him there, something he had never done before.

Once there, Martin MacNeill told her he wanted the two of them to go inside the temple and pray for guidance about getting a new nanny. Afterward, she said a woman named Jyllian walked by them outside the temple. Her father, MacNeill said, acted as though he had forgotten her name and didn't know the woman very well.

Willis testified Wednesday that it was MacNeill's idea for her to meet Rachel for the first time at the temple. She said he didn't want them to know about their prior relationship.

"He wanted me to meet his family with the best foot forward," she said. "Martin thought (meeting at the temple) would be a conducive way to be introduced to Rachel. ... He thought it would be a nice place and a calming environment."

After court, defense attorney Randy Spencer said he does not believe Willis' testimony helped the prosecution's case.

"I don't think Gypsy's testimony made any difference in any of the scientific experts' testimonies," he said. "Mr. MacNeill has done a lot of bad things in his life. Just because you're a bad man, however, does not make you a murderer. And the scientific evidence is key in relation to that, and the scientific evidence does not support Mr. MacNeill being a murderer."

After her testimony, Willis sprinted to her car to avoid questions from the media. Family members have said they suspect she was involved in Michele MacNeill's death, but she has not been charged in the case.

Willis' testimony often contradicted the testimony of her former roommates, Michelle Savage and Brandy Smith. They claimed Willis liked dating men with money. They also said she came home one day upset that MacNeill wanted to "cool things down" with her because his wife was getting suspicious.

Savage said that's when Willis talked of possible ways to harm Martin MacNeill's wife.

"I was scared. I'm still scared of her," she testified. "I was scared to death of Gypsy when I moved out, that's why I moved."

Willis denied many of the allegations Savage made during her testimony. Savage conceded she never called police with her concerns because she doesn't trust law enforcers.

The testimonies of Willis and her former roommates weren't the only contradicting testimonies Wednesday.

Earlier, another in a string of doctors was called to the witness stand. Dr. Joshua Perper, who has 45 years of forensic pathology experience and recently retired as chief medical examiner in Broward County, Fla., testified that he believed drowning was the cause of MacNeill's death.

Perper, who was called to the witness stand by the state, disputed the findings of Utah State Medical Examiner Dr. Todd Grey — who was also called by the state to testify Tuesday — as well as one of Grey's former employees, Dr. Maureen Frikke.

Frikke, who died a couple of years ago, performed the initial autopsy on MacNeill after her death. She concluded the cause of death was myocarditis, or an inflammation of the heart.

Later, Grey made an addendum to the original autopsy, listing the cause of death as heart disease combined with drug toxicity.

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