Dr. Martin MacNeill

Witnesses testify about death Scene and drugs in MacNeill hearing

The fourth day of the preliminary hearing for the Pleasant Grove doctor accused of killing his wife with a deadly cocktail of prescription drugs continued Tuesday. Several medical experts and co-workers took the stand to testify regarding the toxicology report for Michele MacNeill that, according to testimony, showed the presence of four potent prescription medications – Ambien, Valium, Oxycodone, and Phenergan.

A pharmacology/toxicology expert with more than 35 years of experience, Dr. Gary Dawson, testified that the levels of Ambien present in Michele MacNeill’s system at midday were surprising, indicating she took the sleep medication likely within two hours of her body being found. “That level would suggest there was still a substantial amount of drug present, more so than one would expect,” Dawson said.

He also testified that with the combination of drugs in her system it is very unlikely she was alert. The drugs present would have an additive effect that in combination with one another would have increased their effectiveness. He added that her inexperience with prescription drugs would also have increased their potency.

The defense team countered on cross-examination by noting that the actual levels of each drug found in Michele’s system would likely not have caused her death. They also suggested other conditions that may have contributed to her death.

Martin MacNeill, 56, is charged with murder and obstructing justice in connection with the April, 2007, death of his wife, Michele MacNeill, 50. Her body was found face down in a bathtub.

The hearing is scheduled to last until Wednesday unless another day is deemed necessary. Judge Samuel McVey will then determine if there is enough evidence to order MacNeill to stand trial. Most of the evidence through the first four days has been circumstantial, including testimony by law enforcement officers, various experts and even one of MacNeill’s daughters.

Steven Mickelson, a former co-worker of MacNeill for about seven years, and currently the director of nursing for the Utah County Health Department, testified that on the day Michele’s body was found he received a call to immediately go to the MacNeill house. When he arrived there were emergency personnel on the scene, the bathtub had already been drained, and Michele was lying on the bedroom floor with a gash on her head and several EMTs performing CPR. She never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead later that day.

Mickelson testified that several days later MacNeill told him “Maybe she had fallen into the tub, hit her head and drowned, or something around those lines.” He also said that when MacNeill returned to work he wore a different wedding band that was black instead of his usual gold band.

Gypsy Willis, 35, is expected to take the stand Wednesday. Prosecutors allege that MacNeill was having an affair with Gypsy before his wife’s death. MacNeill’s daughter Alexis Somers also testified that shortly after her mother’s death Martin MacNeill moved Gypsy into the house as the new nanny and announced his plans to marry her.

Willis was convicted last year of identity fraud after she and MacNeill tried to steal the identity of MacNeill’s 16-year-old daughter.

Ryan Kerns, Esq., Wild About Trial

Source: AP

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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