Martin MacNeill defense calls just 4 witnesses; jury to be handed murder case Friday
Deputy Utah County attorney Sam Pead tried to dissect a report from Besser, noting that many of the examples he cited were specifically tied to how one person could lift another without suffering an injury. The report notes that in some situations, an “ergonomic intervention” such as an electronic or mechanical device provides the safest means of lifting.
“Are you suggesting we should have waited with Michele until there was a mechanical or electrical device there to lift her?” Pead asked.
“I don’t think so,” Besser replied.
Prosecutors wrapped up their case by calling MacNeill’s former lover, Gypsy Willis, back to the stand to read aloud from letters the pair exchanged while both were in federal prison.
“You are worth everything I go through to get you back in my life,” MacNeill penned in one of dozens of letters he wrote to Willis in 2009. And in another: “Whatever I have is yours,” MacNeill wrote amid professions of his love.
Willis, now 37, returned MacNeill’s letters but not his feelings, she told jurors. The relationship was over, Willis said, but she welcomed the support.
“I was very lonely,” she testified. “I was thrilled out of my mind to get a letter.”
In one letter, MacNeill wrote that he had told people at his prison in Texas that she was his common law wife. “Why don’t we just get married for real?” he wrote her.
But by 2010, Willis told investigators who were considering bringing a murder charge against MacNeill that although she had once planned a life with him, that idea now frightened her.
“I found myself in prison for two years as a result of being with this guy,” said Willis, adding that previously her only criminal offenses were parking tickets. “That was terrifying to me.”
MacNeill, who has maintained a stoic expression throughout most of the four-week trial, lifted his glasses and appeared to wipe tears away with his finger as Willis testified.
Prosecutors believe MacNeill, 57, killed his wife in order to begin a new life with Willis, a then 30-year-old nursing student who met MacNeill online in 2005. Within weeks of his wife’s death, MacNeill hired Willis as a live-in nanny to his young children.
Under cross-examination, Willis said she hasn’t seen or spoken to MacNeill for nearly five years and stopped sending him letters after she was released from prison in February of 2011. Both she and MacNeill went to prison in 2009 after begin convicted of identity theft for using a passport belonging to his teen daughter to create a fake ID for Willis.
Prosecutors have called her a hostile witness, suggesting that she still harbors feelings for MacNeill. She denied that again on Thursday — answering a firm “no” when asked by prosecutors if she was protective of MacNeill — and said she is in a new relationship.
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