The Herald Bulletin

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November 9, 2013

Jury finds Utah doctor guilty in wife's death

PROVO, Utah — A jury convicted a doctor of murder early Saturday in the death of his wife six years ago, bringing an end to a trial that became the nation's latest true-crime cable TV obsession with its tales of plastic surgery and philandering, betrayal and family feuding, jailhouse snitches and a courtroom prop: a jetted bathtub.

Martin MacNeill was accused of knocking out Michele MacNeill with drugs after cosmetic surgery, then leaving her to die in a tub like the one displayed in court.

Prosecutors asserted that he may have held her underwater for good measure and that he did it to take up a new life with another woman.

"It was an almost perfect murder," said prosecutor Chad Grunander, who asserted that MacNeill "pumped her full of drugs" that he knew would be difficult to detect once she was dead.

An early mistress of MacNeill's testified he once confided he could induce a heart attack in someone that would appear natural.

After deliberating for several hours, the jury issued its guilty verdict to murder and obstruction of justice shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday.

The case shocked the Mormon community of Pleasant Grove, 35 miles south of Salt Lake City, and captured national attention because the defendant was a wealthy doctor and a lawyer, a father of eight in a picture-perfect family and former bishop in his local congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Defense lawyers contend Michele MacNeill died of natural causes. They believe she had a heart attack and fell headfirst into the tub and noted the autopsy showed she had an enlarged heart, a narrowing of the heart arteries and liver and kidney deterioration.

"There's simply no proof" of a homicide, lawyer Randy Spencer said. "The prosecution has presented to you their cherry-picked portion of the evidence."

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