MacNeill seeks new trial after murder conviction

Posted at 6:20 PM, Jun 30, 2014

PROVO, Utah -- Dr. Martin MacNeill wants a new trial after he was convicted of murdering his wife last year.

His attorneys say the prosecution made a mistake that should result in MacNeill’s release.

“There is much to consider. I’m grateful for your arguments,” said Judge Derek Pullan.

In a Provo courtroom Monday, Pullan said he needed 60 days to decide whether to grant MacNeill’s new trial, which would throw out the murder conviction or sentence him for killing his wife, Michele.

“We believe this case was entirely circumstantial. It was a very close call as to what the jury would decide,” said defense attorney Randy Spencer.

MacNeill’s defense team says the guilty verdict should be thrown out because an inmate who testified against the former doctor was let out of jail early.

The attorneys say it was a deal, which the jury should have known about.

“The standard is whether or not the undisclosed evidence could have affected the jury’s decision-making process if it had been exposed,” Spencer said.

On Nov. 9, a jury convicted MacNeill of murder and obstruction of justice in the death of his wife, Michele.

"Inmate Number 1" testified MacNeill told him he drugged his wife and then drowned her in the bathtub at their Pleasant Grove home.

But the prosecution says that testimony didn’t make or break in the case.

“You’ve got to show that the outcome, is probable the outcome would have been different. Given the testimony from inmates 2,3 and 4 the local inmate – it’s a strong case,” said deputy county attorney Chad Grunander.

Pullan said to him this seems to be a clear error of the prosecution.

The prosecution claims in a four-week trial, errors are to be expected and it doesn’t change the verdict.

“The case law says that very thing, that no trial is a perfect trial, but as far as us not giving the defense exculpatory information, that’s false,” Grunander said.

The prosecution says they only wrote a letter for the inmate after the trial – something they were open about from the beginning.

MacNeill’s daughter, Alexis Somers, said the attack on the prosecution feels personal and she’s hopeful the murder conviction will stand.

“I believe we had a very fair jury trial and they found him guilty, and he is guilty – he’s a murderer, he murdered my mother and he needs to pay for that and we are just anxious for this to go forward,” Somers said.