True-crime TV hit ends with Utah doctor's conviction 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 jailhouse snitches, forced plastic surgery, philandering and betrayal.
Martin MacNeill was accused of knocking out Michele MacNeill with drugs after cosmetic surgery, then leaving her to die in a tub like one that was displayed during the trial.
Prosecutors asserted that he may have held her under water for good measure and that he did it to take up a new life with another woman.
Michele MacNeill's daughters and other relatives let out a loud yelp before dissolving in tears as the jury delivered its verdict to the tense, packed courtroom.
“We're just so happy he can't hurt anyone else,” said Alexis Somers, one of his older daughters. “We miss our mom; we'll never see her again. But that courtroom was full of so many people who loved her.”
Martin MacNeill, 57, showed little emotion when the verdict was read. He hugged his lawyer afterward and said, “It's OK.”
He faces 15 years to life for first-degree murder when he is sentenced Jan. 7. He also was found guilty of obstruction of justice, which could add one to 15 years. MacNeill was led by deputies back to Utah County jail.
Randy Spencer, one of his lawyers, said he was disappointed and then declined further comment.
The chief prosecutor, Chad Grunander, said the largely circumstantial case is the most difficult he ever brought to trial and that many prosecutors wouldn't bother trying, especially with medical examiners unable to produce a finding of homicide.
“It was an almost perfect murder,” Grunander said in his closing argument, asserting 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 11 hours, the jury issued its guilty verdict to murder and obstruction of justice shortly after 1 a.m. Saturday.