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Provo • A five-day preliminary hearing has been set to establish whether there is enough evidence for Martin MacNeill to stand trial for murdering his wife.
On Tuesday, 4th District Court Judge Samuel McVey set the hearing for Oct. 5 and Oct. 9-12. MacNeill's attorney, Randall Spencer, requested a preliminary hearing "as soon as reasonably possible," but prosecutors told McVey they needed at least a month to coordinate the 20 to 24 witnesses that could be called to testify in the case.
"We'll be ready to go [in October,]" said Utah County prosecutor Chad Grunander. "There's a lot of evidence in this case. A lot of witnesses."
MacNeill, a 56-year-old Pleasant Grove doctor, 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.
Alexis Somers, MacNeill's daughter, said Tuesday that her family has faith that prosecutors will be able to prove her mother was murdered at her father's hands.
"It's moving along quickly," she said. "I hope we can get the conviction quick."
But Spencer told reporters outside the courtroom Tuesday that MacNeill's daughters and prosecutors are wrong, that MacNeill's wife died tragically but was not murdered.
"They all want to make up a Hollywood script, it seems," he said.