(PROVO, Utah) — As the trial of Dr. Martin MacNeill comes to a close Friday, prosecutors told the jury the case was “dripping with motive” and urged them to find the Utah doctor guilty of drugging and drowning his wife.
MacNeill’s fate is now in the hands of an eight-member jury, who must decide whether the Utah doctor is guilty of first-degree murder and obstruction of justice.
The circumstantial evidence was damning and the Utah doctor used his medical knowledge as a “cover to hide from the almost perfect murder,” prosecutor Chad Grunander alleged during closing arguments.
But “along the way, he left a number of clues that all point to him as a murderer,” Grunander said. “Make no mistake, the defendant’s fingerprints are all over Michele MacNeill’s death.”
Prosecutors allege that MacNeill, 57, persuaded his wife, Michele MacNeill, 50, to have plastic surgery so he could dope her up during her recovery and then drown her — all so he could start a new life with Gypsy Willis, a woman he met online.
After Michele MacNeill confronted her husband about his affair, Grunander said the doctor faced a choice. “Martin’s secret life with Gypsy Willis was beginning to intersect with Michele,” Grunander said.
Randy Spencer, MacNeill’s defense attorney, told the jury that his client had extramarital affairs, but he wasn’t a murderer. “There is no evidence in this case that rises to the level of beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.
Family fireworks were on full display during the three-week trial, which included testimony from four of MacNeill’s daughters, as well as his purported mistress, who said she moved into the family’s home days after the doctor’s wife died.
MacNeill is charged with first-degree murder and obstruction of justice for his wife’s death on April 11, 2007. However the medical examiner has never been able to determine a cause of death.
The doctor’s defense attorneys said his wife died from heart problems and that the only thing MacNeill may be guilty of is being a “total jerk.”
Defense attorney Susanne Gustin acknowledged at the start of the trial that MacNeill “has made poor choices in his life. We’ve heard he had affairs during his marriage.”
“We may think he is a total jerk, that is absolutely disgusting and that’s natural. But it’s very critical that during this trial you set aside your emotion,” Gustin admonished the jury.
If convicted, MacNeill could face up to life in prison.
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