Doctor accused of killing his wife to face trial in October

Posted at 12:04 PM, Aug 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-12 20:50:41-04

PROVO, Utah -- A judge here refused to dismiss prosecutors from a high-profile murder case of a Pleasant Grove doctor accused of killing his wife.

After hearing arguments Monday morning, Fourth District Court Judge Samuel McVey declined to disqualify the Utah County Attorney's Office from prosecuting Dr. Martin MacNeill on murder and obstruction of justice charges.

Defense attorneys had accused prosecutors of misconduct, saying they withheld thousands of pages of potential evidence from them. Prosecutors insisted the files were available at their office at any time.

"It's not a reason to disqualify," Judge McVey said Monday.

Outside of court, MacNeill's attorney, Randy Spencer, declined to comment. MacNeill's daughter said she was pleased with the decision because it meant the case would move forward to trial.

"I think the judge acknowledged there was no bad faith on our part," deputy Utah County Attorney Chad Grunander told FOX 13. "To the extent that there were issues, we resolved those as quickly as we could and we look forward to trying the case."

The judge did chastise police who sought to question Dr. MacNeill without his attorney present, but he noted that the defendant "lawyered up" and refused to speak to them.

MacNeill is accused of killing his wife, Michelle, 50, back in 2007. She was found dead in a bathtub inside their Pleasant Grove home. Prosecutors contend she was killed so that MacNeill could continue an affair with a woman.

On Monday, prosecutors and defense attorneys fought over whether witnesses could testify at trial. The judge allowed the Utah State Medical Examiner to testify about injuries to Michelle MacNeill, but he will be prohibited from stating whether the case should be prosecuted.

Two women who knew MacNeill's mistress will also be allowed to testify. Prosecutors have argued their testimony speaks to motive by the mistress to have Michelle MacNeill killed.

"They were in bed together both figuratively and literally," the prosecutor told the judge during arguments.

But defense attorneys countered that any statements the mistress may have made could not be tied to their client.

"Martin never told her he wanted to kill Michelle, Martin never told her he would leave Michelle," Spencer told the judge.

The judge allowed limited testimony from the woman's former friends, leaving it up to the trial to decide what the jury will ultimately hear.