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Martin MacNeill, the Pleasant Grove doctor accused of murdering his wife, can be tried on unrelated charges of sexual abuse stemming from a case that was initially dismissed in 2008, Utah Court Appeals ruled Thursday.
Utah County prosecutors filed felony charges of forcible sexual abuse and witness tampering against MacNeill in October 2007, after an adult female relative told Pleasant Grove he put his hand down her pants and asked her to sign a statement saying he did not touch her.
A 4th District Court judge dismissed the case six months later, finding prosecutors did not have a good faith basis to proceed. But the judge did not specify whether dismissal was with or without prejudice, meaning the judge did not say whether prosecutors could re-file the charges at a later date.
Utah County did re-file the sex case in January 2009, which prompted an appeal from MacNeill's attorneys, who argued it could not be refiled because the judge had not specified if it the dismissal was with or without prejudice.
On Thursday, the Utah Court of Appeals sided with prosecutors by ruling that it cannot be assumed that any time a case is dismissed that it is with prejudice.
Meanwhile, MacNeill, 56, was charged Aug. 28 with first-degree felony murder and obstructing justice, a second-degree felony, in the April 11, 2007, death of his wife.
He is accused in court papers of giving Michele MacNeill a deadly mixture of prescription drugs after she came home to recover from cosmetic surgery in April 2007. Martin MacNeill picked up one of his daughters from school on April 11. When they got home, the daughter found her mother in a bathtub that was a quarter full of reddish-brown water, the charges state.
MacNeill called 911. But he lied to the dispatcher about performing resuscitation and lied to police about events surrounding her death in an effort to hinder, delay or prevent any investigation, according to the charges.
MacNeill was having an affair at the time of his wife's death, according to court documents, and devised a plan to kill his wife in order to continue with his affair. A preliminary hearing is set for next month in the murder case.