Natural death or murder plot? Jurors hear 2 views as Martin MacNeill trial begins
Pead also painted a picture of an erratic and sometimes explosive MacNeill, who gave differing accounts of finding his wife in the tub, hung up on 911 operators and destroyed or tampered with evidence in his home, including asking his son’s girlfriend to toss out his wife's leftover painkillers.
Prosecutors played a recording of MacNeill’s frantic 911 call. In it, MacNeill screams at dispatchers for help. Pead told jurors MacNeill lied to dispatchers about performing CPR on his wife before several neighbors came to his aid.
Gustin encouraged jurors to rely on the facts, not their emotions, in deciding the case — even if they think MacNeill is a “total jerk.” Prosecutors, she said, conducted a backward investigation and “cherry-picked” details from MacNeill’s life which they perceive demonstrate his guilt. That process that has skewed the truth, she said.
“They started with the premise that Martin killed Michele,” Gustin said.
Jurors heard from the prosecution’s first two witnesses Thursday afternoon. Scott Thompson was the plastic surgeon who gave MacNeill her face lift and Von Welch, a physician who gave her a pre-operative exam.
Welch said the woman was healthy, but suffered from high blood pressure and depression. He testified to recommending that she begin taking anti-depressants and delay the surgery until after she got her blood pressure under control.
Martin MacNeill was present when the advice was offered and seemed disappointed at the proposition of a delay, but didn’t disagree, Welch said.
Thompson told the court he deviated from his normal prescriptions of antibiotics, steroids, eyedrops, sleep medication and post-surgery painkillers at Martin MacNeill’s behest.
“Martin indicated to me that he was very concerned about his wife,” Thompson told the jury. “That she didn’t handle pain well, and was anxious.”
Thompson said he normally would not trust a patient to use the medications correctly, but agreed because MacNeill was a physician and his wife’s primary care doctor. In check-up appointments about a week after the surgery, Michele MacNeill appeared to be doing well and using fewer pain medications, he said.
“I think she was starting to get excited,” Thompson said. “She was beginning to see the results. She was positive and I was very happy with her progress.”
Both men were troubled by the news of her death.
“I was shocked,” Welch testified. “Because at the time that I examined her, she was healthy and it was just unexpected that she would have a bad outcome from surgery.”
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