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A former Utah physician serving up to life in prison for drugging and drowning his wife in a bathtub was found dead Sunday at the Utah State Prison in Draper, Department of Corrections officials said.
Correctional officers found Martin Joseph MacNeill unresponsive near a greenhouse in the outdoor yard of the Olympus facility, according to a DOC news release. The officers started CPR and called for emergency responders, who continued life-saving efforts, the release said.
MacNeill, 61, who was found at 11:23 a.m., could not be revived and was pronounced dead at the prison at 11:50 a.m.
"The death is being investigated to determine the exact cause, and there are no obvious signs of foul play," the release says.
The Olympus facility is designated for inmates with mental health needs, according to the DOC website. Those prisoners generally suffer from more severe mental illnesses that typically require psychotropic medications, the website says.
MacNeill was serving a 15-years-to-life term in prison for Michele MacNeill's April 11, 2007, death at their Pleasant Grove home. A Utah County jury found him guilty in 2013 of first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony obstructing justice.
Michele MacNeill, 50, was found unconscious in her bathtub by her then-6-year-old daughter and was taken to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
At trial, prosecutors presented a theory that Martin MacNeill gave his wife a fatal cocktail of prescription drugs and then drowned her so he could continue an affair. The defense countered that MacNeill was at work at the time of his wife's death and argued there was reasonable doubt of his guilt, pointing to circumstantial evidence and an inconclusive autopsy.
An eight-member jury returned a guilty verdict in November 2013. A month later, MacNeill survived a suicide attempt inside his Utah County jail cell, where he was being held pending sentencing.
Utah County Sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon confirmed at the time that deputies found MacNeill cutting his femoral artery with a disposable razor.
Attorney Randy Spencer, who defended MacNeill at his murder trial, said Sunday that he suspects his client committed suicide.
"It's something that I feared ever since he was convicted," Spencer said. "He's tried to take his life before, unsuccessfully."
The death, however, still was a shock because MacNeill was in good spirits when Spencer visited him in prison last week, he said. The two discussed a possible appeal to the Utah Supreme Court, Spencer said, but had not reached a decision on whether to take that route.
In addition to the murder sentence, 4th District Judge Derek Pullan had imposed a one- to 15-year prison term for obstructing justice at MacNeill's sentencing in September 2014. The two sentences were to run consecutive to a one- to-15 year prison sentence for sex abuse MacNeill received for inappropriately touching his adult daughter.
MacNeill's first bid at parole was scheduled for August 2052, when he would have been 96 years old.
His death came less than a month after the Utah Court of Appeals rejected his bid for a new murder trial.
His appellate attorneys contended that prosecutors tainted the testimony of an important witness and engaged in misconduct by withholding thousands of pages of evidence.
But on March 16, the court found no error that warranted a new trial and ruled ample evidence proved MacNeill committed the crimes.
Last August, the Utah Court of Appeals denied MacNeill's request for a new trial on the sex abuse conviction, rejecting arguments the high-profile murder trial tainted his chances for a fair trial in Utah County on the sex abuse allegations.