Mental competency evaluation shuts down MacNeill cases

Posted at 2:00 PM, Mar 03, 2014

PROVO -- A mental competency evaluation for Dr. Martin MacNeill, convicted of killing his wife, has delayed his upcoming court proceedings.

At a brief hearing in 4th District Court on Monday, Judge Sam McVey announced that evaluators hadn't even looked at Dr. MacNeill. The judge set a new hearing in 45 days, in the hopes that the evaluation would be finished and he would know if MacNeill were competent to face trial on sex abuse charges.

"I'm just getting fed up with it," Michele MacNeill's sister, Linda Cluff, told FOX 13 outside court. "More delays, delays. I just want it to move forward."

Because he is undergoing an evaluation, it has stalled not only the upcoming sex abuse trial where Dr. MacNeill is accused of groping a woman, but his sentencing for the 2007 murder of his wife, Michele.

Dr. MacNeill's attorney, Randy Spencer, told FOX 13 that his client was competent at the time he went on trial for murder. It was after he was convicted and attempted suicide that competency questions were raised.

"I believe that based on is current state of mind he was not in such a state that he could reasonably assist me in preparing for the trial pending," Spencer said.

Spencer said Utah law is ambiguous about the reach of mental competency proceedings -- whether it affects the case pending, or all cases involving a defendant. Out of an abundance of caution, both Judge McVey and Judge Derek Pullan (who presided over the murder case), have agreed to halt all proceedings.

That includes Dr. MacNeill's upcoming sentencing for murder, and Spencer's request for a new trial.

"My opinion is I would like to proceed with an evaluation of the record in the homicide case, but Judge Pullan made that interpretation," he said. "It's certainly prudent and we're just following the judge's instructions."