PROVO — A 4th District Court judge allowed yet another delay Monday in the oft-delayed cases of Martin MacNeill.
The Utah doctor and lawyer was set to be sentenced for forcible sex abuse, a second-degree felony. A jury in July convicted MacNeill, 58, of abusing his adult daughter a month after he murdered his wife in 2007.
Defense attorney Randall Spencer filed a motion to dismiss or arrest judgment following MacNeill's July 3 conviction. He is basing his appeal on a recording of MacNeill's accuser that police apparently lost. On Friday, he filed a motion to "extend time to respond," according to court records.
Judge Samuel McVey on Monday postponed the sentencing and set another sentencing hearing for Sept. 15.
A separate jury also convicted MacNeill of murder in November 2013, but nine months later he has yet to be sentenced for that crime as another judge considers whether to grant a retrial. He was convicted of killing his wife, Michele, in April 2007 by overmedicating her and drowning her in a bathtub.
The death was initially ruled accidental, but suspicious family members gathered evidence against MacNeill and eventually convinced Utah County prosecutors to investigate the death as a homicide. A murder charge was filed in 2012.
The unrelated sex abuse charge was filed after MacNeill's adult daughter Alexis Somers reported that she was assaulted by her father. The Deseret News does not usually name victims in sexual abuse cases, but Somers has spoken publicly about the case.
She testified that MacNeill inappropriately touched her while she was sleeping in her parents' master bedroom on her mother's bed about a month after she died. MacNeill claimed that he thought she was his wife.
She originally filed a police report in September 2007 claiming two incidents of abuse in the three months following her mother's death. The second incident, which allegedly occurred during a family trip to Disneyland, was not allowed to be presented during the trial.
Spencer appealed the verdict after receiving an additional police report on the second day of trial which he believes contains a conflicting statement by MacNeill's daughter and "highlights the need for her recorded statement." Without the lost recording, "it makes it virtually impossible to impeach her" using her own words, he said.
“I believe that this new police report makes our prior motion to dismiss even more critical because the statement of the alleged victim is the most important piece of evidence for a defendant charged in a 'he said, she said' type of a case, which this one is,” Spencer said. "When we have police officers that lose the most critical piece of evidence in a case like this, my client is not receiving fundamental fairness in my opinion."
The abuse case against MacNeill lagged on for years for several reasons, including a defense motion that the Utah Court of Appeals took three years to decide and a four-year federal prison sentence MacNeill served for identity theft before he was charged and tried for murder.
Spencer sought another delay before the trial, in part because he said he needed time to recuperate both emotionally and physically from MacNeill's four-week murder trial. Then, after MacNeill was hospitalized after attempting to kill himself, McVey ordered competency evaluations for MacNeill. Months later, he determined that MacNeill was competent to stand trial.
Fourth District Judge Derek Pullan has not yet sentenced MacNeill for murder because he is considering Spencer's motion for a retrial. The defense attorney has argued that prosecutors did not disclose an agreement they made to write a letter of recommendation for a federal prison inmate who testified against MacNeill during the trial.Comment on this story
Pullan had previously indicated that he would rule on the motion by the end of August.
Somers expressed frustration Monday. She and other family members have repeatedly expressed discouragement because of the numerous delays in the two cases.