5-week trial set for Pleasant Grove doctor Martin MacNeill after he pleads not guilty in wife's death

Published: Monday, Oct. 22 2012 4:00 p.m. MDT

Martin MacNeill was ordered Thursday to stand trial for murder in the 2007 death of his wife. The Pleasant Grove doctor appears in 4th District Court in Provo Wednesday Oct. 10, 2012.

Al Hartmann

PROVO — A five-week trial has been set for March in the case of a Pleasant Grove doctor charged with murder in his wife's 2007 death.

The trial of Martin MacNeill, 56, was scheduled to begin March 5 and continue through April 4 during a hearing Monday in 4th District Court. MacNeill also pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, a first-degree felony, and obstruction of justice, a second-degree felony, in connection with the April 11, 2007, death of Michele MacNeill, 50.

"We're happy it's going to be after the holidays, but we're anxious to get this to trial and see my dad go to jail permanently for my mother's murder," the couple's daughter, Alexis Somers, said after the hearing.

Prosecutors allege that MacNeill overmedicated his wife, administered a dangerous combination of drugs and drowned her in the bathtub of their home. This was just after he allegedly pressured his wife to undergo cosmetic surgery despite her concerns and, as a doctor, requested additional prescriptions the woman's surgeon testified at a prior hearing he normally wouldn't prescribe.

MacNeill had worked as a doctor and had a law degree, both of which police believe he used "to commit the murder and frustrate the investigation in an attempt to cover it up," court documents state.

Soon after his wife's death, MacNeill's longtime mistress, Gypsy Willis, moved into the MacNeill house as the children's new nanny. Prosecutors contend MacNeill killed his wife to be with Willis.

MacNeill was ordered to stand trial on the charges after a six-day preliminary hearing in which Judge Samuel McVey heard the evidence that makes up the largely circumstantial case. Still, MacNeill's behavior before and after his wife's death showed "evidence of a guilty mind," McVey said.

Defense attorneys for MacNeill said Monday they look forward to trial, where they say all of the evidence will come forward. They said the trial date will give them ample time to prepare.

"We will be putting on a vigorous defense," Susanne Gustin said. "Martin is looking forward to proving his innocence at trial."

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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