Doctor on Trial for Wife's Murder Called ‘Total Jerk’ by His Own Lawyer

On paper, Martin MacNeill seemed like an upstanding member of the community. He was a clinical director at the Utah State Hospital, a bishop and tithe-paying member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he had eight children with his beauty queen wife.

Except for now the former Mormon doctor is on trial for killing his wife. MacNeill allegedly pushed his wife Michelle to get a facelift so he could kill her with a lethal amount of prescription painkillers.


During the opening statements on Thursday, Prosecutor Sam Pead said that in addition to “acting erratically the day she died,” MacNeill told fellow inmates after his arrest that she was a “bitch,” that he was glad she was dead, and that authorities would never be able to prove he killed her.

Michelle died in April 2007, but it’s taken this long for the case to go to trial because medical examiners couldn’t determine her cause of death. They initially reported natural causes, possibly a heart disorder, but changed the findings to undetermined.

Prosecutors are arguing that MacNeill murdered his wife in a scheme to carry on his affair with his mistress, a woman he moved into his home and proposed to just weeks after his wife's funeral.

The defense says he might be a jerk, but he’s not a killer.

"Martin has made poor choices in his life. He had affairs during his marriage," defense lawyer Susanne Gustin said in her opening statement. "Shortly after his wife passed away, he brought Gypsy Willis into his home … we may think he's a total jerk and disgusting. And that's natural. But decide this case on the facts rather than the emotion."

Surgeon Scott Thomson testified Thursday that he would not normally prescribe Valium or Oxycodone and other painkillers and sleeping pills for Michelle’s plastic surgery recovery, but did “because Martin was a physician and he asked me for these things.”

Michele MacNeill didn’t require more than antibiotics, and he advised her to use painkillers sparingly, Thomson said.

Ugh, whether this guy did it or not, he sounds like an ass. Don’t you love it when defense attorneys have to tell the jury, “Now I know my client’s a jerk, but …”? This whole situation is so sad, and no matter what happens, I hope Michelle’s loved ones get some peace.

Do you think it matters that his defense attorney called him a total jerk?


Image via Gaetano/Corbis

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