Daughter says Martin MacNeill insisted on autopsy of mother's body, feared police investigation
On cross-examination, defense attorney Susanne Gustin picked through Rachel MacNeill’s testimony from past hearings, noting the discrepancies and noting when she offered information Thursday that she had not previously disclosed.
Gustin also tried to discredit Rachel MacNeill’s testimony by asking about her mental health history, including a 2012 medical report from an emergency room physician indicating she was suffering from delusions and psychosis.
“I don’t know,” Rachel MacNeill said, pausing before giving an answer. She also said didn’t remember telling a doctor that she had “altered reality testing” but did acknowledge that she had been diagnosed as suffering from bipolar disorder.
Earlier in the day, Judge Pullan held a two-hour hearing to consider whether the MacNeills' youngest adoptive daughter, Ada, will be allowed to testify in the case. She was the first to discover Michele in the tub. She was 6 at the time and is now 12.
Defense attorney Randall Spencer objects to Ada testifying and contends her memory may have been tainted over time by conversations with others, specifically her elder sisters, Somers and Rachel MacNeill, who pushed for their mother’s death to be investigated as a homicide.
Spencer has said he fears Ada’s memory has been so compromised that “there is a high probability of false memories.”
Prosecutors questioned investigators Doug Witney, now a Utah County Commissioner, and Jeff Robinson and Somers about their interactions with Ada over time.
All said investigators had asked Somers to query Ada about the details of what she saw that day, including her mother’s position in the tub, the water level and if she was clothed. Ada was also asked to diagram her mother’s position in the tub — an exercise that was supervised by Somers, who is now Ada's legal guardian.
Somers assured the court that she had not “tainted” her sister’s testimony by suggesting details to her about the alleged crime or letting her see any newspaper or television accounts about the case. She conceded, however, that Ada is familiar with Somers’ own conclusions about the case.
“I know she’s aware that I think my dad killed my mom,” Somers said.
Pullan said he will issue a ruling on the matter Friday.
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