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Provo • It has been 2,718 days since Alexis Somers has heard her mother's voice, held her hand, smelled her perfume, or given her a hug.

Seven years, five months and eight days after Michele MacNeill's death, Somers stood before a judge and asked that the man convicted as her mother's murderer — Somer's own father, Martin MacNeill — spend the rest of his life in prison.

"She was taken from us and robbed of her life," Somers said. "We were all robbed of so much happiness and joy."

Fourth District Judge Derek Pullan sentenced Martin MacNeill, a former physician, to spend 15 years to life in prison for the murder charge plus another one to 15 years in prison for obstruction of justice.

Pullan also made the sentences in the murder case run consecutive to a one-to-15 year prison sentence ordered earlier this week for an unrelated sexual abuse conviction.

Whether Pullan would issue consecutive or concurrent sentences to Martin MacNeill, 58, was the only substantial legal question in Friday's hearing. State statutes dictated Martin MacNeill receive a 15-to-life sentence for the first-degree felony murder conviction.

"Mr. MacNeill, as you deprived Michele MacNeill of her life, the state of Utah exacts from you today the liberty that you otherwise might have enjoyed in your remaining years," Pullan said before handing down the sentence.

Martin MacNeill will receive credit for 748 days he spent in jail waiting for trial and sentencing.

Martin MacNeill did not speak to the judge during the hearing, but chatted with his lawyer, Randall Spencer, while two of his daughters — Somers and Rachel MacNeill — and Michele MacNeill's sister, Linda Cluff, made a statement in court and asked for the maximum sentence.

"He took the kindest, most caring person I've ever known, and he calculatingly took her from us all," a sobbing Rachel MacNeill told Pullan.

Cluff told the judge that several "painful" questions still remain: Did her sister suffer? What was she thinking? Was she scared? What were her last thoughts?

"I shatter thinking of my sister looking at her own husband as he was doing this to her," Cluff said.

Cluff took a moment during her statement to turn from the judge and look at her brother-in-law, telling him, "I can finally look into the eyes of my sister's murderer and say, 'Martin, you haven't gotten away with this.' "

After the sentencing, Cluff told reporters that Martin MacNeill looked directly at her — but his eyes were blank, conveying no emotion.

"He was up there laughing," she said. "He showed no remorse. I was not surprised, it was the Martin I've always known."

Deputy Utah County Attorney Chad Grunander said the fact that Martin MacNeill seemingly paid no attention and talked to his attorney as Cluff made her statement was "offensive."

"I think it demonstrates a lack of respect for the process," he said. "I think the defendant simply doesn't get it."

Grunander said that the judge's decision to order consecutive sentences was exactly what they were hoping for.

"Given his age … and the fact that he hasn't taken any responsibility for his crimes — if he continues to do that, there is absolutely no hope that he's going to be released," Grunander said. "I think he dies in prison."

Martin MacNeill's attorney did not recommend any sentence during the hearing, and did not comment to reporters after.

In November, a jury found Martin MacNeill guilty of first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony obstruction of justice, finding that Martin MacNeill drugged his 50-year-old wife, then drowned her in a bathtub in their Pleasant Grove home on April 11, 2007.

Michele MacNeill was found unconscious in her bathtub by her then-6-year-old daughter, Ada. The child was sent by her father to a neighbor's house to get help, and eventually Michele MacNeill was pulled from the bathtub by a neighbor and Martin MacNeill. The two attempted CPR before medical crews arrived.

Those medical crews also attempted to perform CPR and other life-saving efforts before Michele MacNeill was taken to American Fork Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

The state medical examiner's office has never ruled the death a homicide. After an autopsy in 2007, Michele MacNeill's manner of death was ruled "natural," the result of "chronic hypertension and myocarditis, which are capable of causing acute unexpected arrhythmia and sudden death."

But investigators said Martin MacNeill called the medical examiner multiple times and gave misleading information. In 2010, in a new investigative report, Chief Medical Examiner Todd Grey changed the cause of death to the combined effects of heart disease and drug toxicity. The manner of death was changed to "undetermined."

At trial, the jury heard from a number of witnesses, including Martin MacNeill's mistress, Gypsy Willis, several of Martin MacNeill's daughters and two inmates who claimed he confessed the murder to them.

Prosecutors weaved a narrative that focused on Martin MacNeill's bad or odd behavior — including the growing seriousness of his affair with Willis, his insistence that his wife have a face-lift, asking that extra medications be prescribed to her and his reaction to his wife's death — all added to murder.

Martin MacNeill used an alibi defense. His attorney argued he was at work at the time of his wife's death. Spencer also argued there was "reasonable doubt," pointing to the inconclusive autopsy and the circumstantial evidence.

Martin MacNeill was transferred from the Utah County Jail to the state prison earlier this week, after a judge sentenced him on Monday to spend up to 15 years in prison on a forcible sexual abuse conviction.

In that case, his adult daughter testified at trial that she fell asleep at her parent's house on May 23, 2007, — five weeks after Michele MacNeill's death — when she woke to find her father rubbing her buttocks and licking and kissing one of her hands.

The one-to-15 year sentence was the maximum penalty for the second-degree felony, but 4th District Judge Samuel McVey said before handing down the sentence that he had little choice in the sentencing because Martin MacNeill did not cooperate with the state employees who conduct the post-conviction evaluation, and was not eligible for probation.

For Michele MacNeill's family, Friday's sentence finally freed them after pushing for justice for over seven years. Now, Somers said, they will focus on celebrating her mother's life.

"We want to remember our mother for who she was and honor her," Somers said after the sentencing.

Twitter: @jm_miller

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