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Testimony begins in murder trial against former Utah doctor Martin MacNeill

PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – The murder trial against former Pleasant Grove doctor Martin MacNeill began in a Provo courthouse Thursday. Opening statements were made and two doctors took the stand to testify what happened in the days leading up to Michele MacNeill’s death.
PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – The murder trial against former Pleasant Grove doctor Martin MacNeill began in a Provo courthouse Thursday. Opening statements were made and two doctors took the stand to testify what happened in the days leading up to Michele MacNeill’s death.

On April 11th, 2007 Martin MacNeill called 911. His wife, Michele MacNeill, was found partially clothed, laid out over the bathtub, with her face in the water.

The 911 calls were played in court.

911 Operator: "Your wife is unconscious?”
MacNeill: “She is unconscious. She's under the water.”
911 Operator: “Did you get her out of the water?”
MacNeill: “I can't. I let the water out."

MacNeill claims he could not lift his 180 pound wife Michele out of the tub; instead he drained the water and attempted CPR.

During opening statements the prosecution played the 911 clips and spoke about MacNeill's peculiar behavior once paramedics arrived.

Utah County Prosecutor Sam Pead said during his opening statement, "He also exclaimed, 'Why did she have the surgery? Why did she take all of those medications? I told her not to do it. I'm a doctor. She's dead. I've been a bishop, I pay tithing, and this is the way you repay me.’"

The prosecution claims MacNeill forced his wife to have the facelift and asked the doctor for medications he wouldn't normally prescribe.

The doctor who performed the surgery was the first witness to take the stand. He testified he prescribed several medications that he wouldn't normally, like stronger pain meds, valium and liquid pain medication because martin asked for them and martin was a doctor.

Doctor Scott Thompson testified, "Martin was really, he was the one that directed this discussion. He said 'I'm really concerned about my wife, she gets nauseated easily and she gets anxious and I just want to be sure I have everything I might need in the post-operative period to cover her for these issues."

The defense says it was heart disease that killed Michele MacNeill and, over the course of the trail, the evidence will prove that.

Defense Attorney Susanne Gustin said during the opening statement, "The prosecution’s perception in the case is wrong, ladies and gentlemen. Martin MacNeill is not guilty. Let's look at the actual facts in this case and the science in this case. The real culprit in Michele's death, the serpent if you will, was heart disease."

Michele's autopsy determined she died of natural causes due to cardiovascular disease, but three years later, at the urging of her children, another examination was done taking a closer look at the toxicology report.

The chief medical examiner of the Utah State Medical Examiner’s office concluded that although none of the medications in Michele’s system were at toxic levels, the combination of drugs could have lead to sedation and heart arrhythmia that resulted in cardiac death.

Stay with ABC 4 Utah for the latest in this case.
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