Court to allow cameras in trial for Utah doctor accused of killing wife
PROVO, Utah (AP) — Prosecutors can’t refer to the late wife of a Utah doctor charged with her murder as a victim because of uncertainty over the cause of her death, a judge ruled Monday.
The trial of Dr. Martin MacNeill is scheduled to start Oct. 15 for five weeks and is certain to draw television coverage. Fourth District Judge Derek Pullan overruled objections Monday from prosecutors and defense lawyers by authorizing videotaped coverage. Utah welcomed cameras in state courts April 1.
Prosecutors opposed televised coverage. It could open to retaliation two inmates who plan to testify that MacNeill incriminated himself in jail by talking about how and why he killed his wife, prosecutor Chad Grunander said.
A defense lawyer, Randy Spencer, raised concerns about the safety of jurors if the proceedings are videotaped. Court orders routinely prohibit cameras from turning to jurors.
The judge said he would prohibit any video or photography of the inmates but not audio of their testimony.
Michelle MacNeill was found face-down in a bathtub in 2007 at the couple’s Pleasant Grove home, about 35 miles south of Salt Lake City.
Prosecutors claim her husband gave her a lethal dose of medicine at a time when he was carrying on an affair with another woman.
MacNeill hounded his wife to get a facelift and got the plastic surgeon to prescribe a “potent cocktail” of pills for her recovery, prosecutors have said.
Medical examiners haven’t been able to determine the cause of death. Initially ruled a natural death, the cause was later changed to “undetermined.” The state coroner’s office has never ruled it a homicide.
Michelle MacNeill had chronic high blood pressure, kidney and liver problems and cardiac arrhythmias, an expert for the defense said in a recent court filing.
Matthew C. Lee, a forensic pathologist from Richmond, Va., filed a report Aug. 14 ruling out homicide as a cause of death. Lee examined the woman’s medical and hospital records and a toxicology report.
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