Anguish or acting? Emergency responders testify in MacNeill murder trial

Posted at 9:26 PM, Oct 22, 2013

PROVO -- As they tried frantically to save Michele MacNeill's life, emergency responders were distracted by her husband's rantings.

"He was kind of yelling at her, 'Why did you do this? Why did you do this?'" Pleasant Grove Police Officer Joshua Motsinger testified Tuesday.

Paramedic Steven Brande testified he was "concerned about my safety." Pleasant Grove Fire Chief Marc Sanderson said Martin MacNeill's rantings distracted from CPR efforts to save Michele. He escorted the doctor of the house.

"There was one comment, specifically," Sanderson testified Tuesday. "It kind of led to his behavior and why he was so angry. Based on his affiliation with the (LDS) church and the amount of money he's donated, this is how God's repaid him."

The outbursts continued to the emergency room, where Michele MacNeill was pronounced dead.

"I remember him yelling, 'I'll give you all that I have if you'll save her,'" Brande testified, adding he later saw Dr. MacNeill crying.

MacNeill is accused of killing his wife in 2007, so he could continue an affair with another woman. Emergency responders testified that Martin MacNeill told them his wife had likely overdosed on prescription painkillers as she recovered from plastic surgery, slipped in the tub, hit her head and drowned. Utah County prosecutors accuse him of overdosing her and drowning her.

In witness testimony last week, prosecutors insinuated that Dr. MacNeill faked CPR. On Tuesday, they used witness testimony to suggest to the jury that he was acting his response to his wife's death.

"When MacNeill was questioning the medics, that was the only time he wasn't completely random in his hysteria," Pleasant Grove Police Officer Dan Beckstrom testified.

MacNeill's former coworker, Steve Mickelson, acknowledged that his outbursts were "only in rare instances," but said he knew the doctor could be easily agitated.

Under cross-examination, defense attorneys attacked the recollections of the witnesses. They pressed them on what Michele MacNeill was wearing (none of the prosecution witnesses have been consistent about what she wore the day she died) and suggested some of them may have been exaggerating.

After Sanderson testified that hospital security had been called because of Dr. MacNeill's outbursts in the emergency room, defense attorney Randy Spencer suggested it was the first time he'd ever heard it.

Testimony is expected to continue for several more weeks. Dr. MacNeill's own daughters are scheduled to testify against him, as is his alleged mistress.

On Tuesday, Judge Derek Pullan ruled that MacNeill's 12-year-old daughter could testify, partially out of the presence of the jury. Defense attorneys have challenged her testimony and whether it is admissible before a jury: she was 6 at the time she found her mother's body in the bathtub.