Martin MacNeill's attorney asking for specifics in murder case
Courts • Defense wants prosecutors to provide precise times and cause of death.
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An defense attorney for Pleasant Grove doctor Martin MacNeill — who last month was ordered to stand trial for the 2007 murder of his wife — is asking prosecutors for a detailed list of the alleged criminal acts leading to Michele MacNeill's death.

In a motion filed in 4th District Court requesting a "bill of particulars," attorney Randy Spencer claims charging documents are not specific enough.

Spencer wants prosecutors to provide the precise time MacNeill allegedly administered drugs to his wife and the precise time of her death. He also requests the precise cause of death.

According to Spencer, prosecutors claim MacNeill gave his wife a dangerous combination of prescription drugs, after which "she was drowned at home in her bathtub or died of the combined effects of heart disease and drug toxicity," Spencer notes.

And during an October preliminary hearing, medical experts testified it was possible Michelle MacNeill died from natural causes related to heart arrhythmia, Spencer notes. Utah medical examiners have never ruled the woman's death a homicide.

In addition, Judge Samuel McVey said following the preliminary hearing that there wasn't any single piece of evidence that convinced him to advance the case to trial. The judge rehashed a number of details of the case that he said seemed suspicious or showed MacNeill may have had a guilty mind.

"Without the requested bill of particulars, [MacNeill] is left to speculate about what alleged acts he is accused of doing to cause the death of Mrs. MacNeill," Spencer wrote in his motion.

Deputy Utah County Attorney Chad Grunander has responded to Spencer's request, saying that the information requested goes "well beyond" a bill of particulars, and that the probable cause statement and information from the preliminary hearing should suffice.

In April 2007, Michele MacNeill , 50, was found dead in her bathtub.

This summer, 56-year-old Martin MacNeill was charged with first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony obstruction of justice.

According to court documents, 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 the affair.

MacNeill picked up one of his daughters from school on April 11, and when they returned home, the girl found her mother in a bathtub that was a quarter full of reddish-brown water, charges state. MacNeill called 911, but allegedly 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.

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 say 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."

In recent years, other experts have also reviewed the case. A University of Utah professor of pharmacology and toxicology said he believed Michele MacNeill had taken a potentially lethal dose of medication. A medical examiner in Florida determined the immediate cause of death was drowning and that, contrary to the Utah medical examiner's findings, there was no evidence of acute or active myocarditis.

A five-week trial is set to begin in March.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller