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Martin MacNeill's attorney indicates one report found man competent, another not finished

Published: Monday, April 28 2014 3:39 p.m. MDT

Martin MacNeill, center, listens to his attorney, Randy Spencer, during a pretrial conference, for MacNeill's sex abuse case, in Judge Samuel McVey's courtroom at 4th District Court in Provo, Monday, January 6, 2014.

Steve Griffin,

PROVO — Months after a judge requested a competency evaluation for Martin MacNeill, the man's attorney indicated that one of two requested evaluations found his client is competent.

Fourth District Judge Samuel McVey ordered two evaluations into MacNeill's competency in January after attorneys for MacNeill — who was convicted of murder in the 2007 death of his wife — filed a motion stating that conditions at the Utah County Jail are "slowly killing" his client. Defense attorney Randall Spencer asked for a competency review, and the judge requested that two examinations be completed.

Spencer said Monday that one evaluation has been finished and that MacNeill was determined to be competent. He said the second report should be ready in the coming weeks.

McVey set a competency review for May 5.

The judge's decision to investigate MacNeill's mental competency in January halted a two-day trial slated to begin the following week in an unrelated sex abuse case. It has also stalled arguments that preclude sentencing in the pending murder case.

The evaluations were initially due in March, but the state requested more time to complete them during a scheduled competency review hearing March 3. During a telephone conference earlier this month, Spencer indicated that doctors visited MacNeill at the jail, "but MacNeill refused to meet with them," court records state.

MacNeill's daughter Alexis Somers said after Monday's hearing that she believes her father is competent and that the issues being raised are a "delay tactic." She said it is frustrating for family members, who are anxious to see the case resolved.

"We'll just do things the way they're supposed to be done and hopefully it gets resolved sometime soon," Somers said. "We're waiting until the process plays out and we can move on."

MacNeill, 58, was found guilty in November of murdering his wife, Michele MacNeill. The former Pleasant Grove doctor was scheduled to face trial Feb. 4 on an unrelated forcible sex abuse charge stemming from allegations that he groped one of his daughters in 2007.

MacNeill has been on suicide watch since Dec. 5, when he attempted to kill himself by cutting his femoral artery with a disposable razor.

Spencer has said in court filings that MacNeill continues to be held in an isolation cell where he must wear a suicide robe, and lights are shined on him 24 hours a day, preventing him from getting proper sleep. He said his client is also unable to receive nourishing vegetarian meals and is cuffed and chained every time he showers.

"It is my observation and belief that Mr. MacNeill’s condition is bad and worsening," Spencer wrote. "His face is drawn; his eyes are perpetually red. He is gaunt. He is isolated from personal interaction. He has been informed that as long as he is in the Utah County Jail, he will be on suicide watch with the same treatment as described above."

Spencer noted that his client has suffered from schizophrenia and bipolar disease since his late teens or early 20s.

Originally scheduled for Jan. 9, sentencing in the murder case was continued in light of a motion from defense attorneys asking that MacNeill's conviction be thrown out. They allege that one of the state's witnesses — a federal prison inmate who testified against MacNeill during the trial — lied on the stand.

A telephone conference in the murder case is set for Tuesday.

Email: emorgan@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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