Utah doctor seeks new trial in death of wife

Jan 2, 2014, 11:42 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A Utah doctor convicted of murder in the bathtub death of his wife wants a new trial, saying cellmates lied when they testified that he confessed to the killing to them.

Authorities said Martin MacNeill gave his wife drugs prescribed after cosmetic surgery and left her to drown in the bathtub of their home so he could begin a new life with his mistress. Experts said she had painkillers, Valium and sleeping pills in her system and likely drowned in the tub, while MacNeill’s attorneys tried to prove she could have died of natural causes.

The trial became national news with the testimony from jailhouse snitches, doctors who said MacNeill pressured his wife into plastic surgery and convinced them to prescribe her the drugs, and a mistress MacNeill introduced as a nanny soon after his wife’s death.

The only evidence of homicide came from the two inmates, attorney Randy Spencer said, and he contends that evidence shows they lied in exchange for lighter sentences.

Jurors, however, have said publicly they considered the inmates untrustworthy and disregarded their testimony.

MacNeill has maintained his innocence, and the court documents filed in his request for a new trial also reveal he left a suicide note and slit a major leg artery with a disposable razor on Dec. 5. Officials at Utah County jail intervened to save his life.

MacNeill faces 15 years to life in prison on charges of murder and obstruction of justice. His sentencing, which was set for Tuesday, will be delayed by the appeal.

Spencer said the evidence of perjury comes from emails and transcripts of phone conversations a key inmate traded with his mother and a Utah County investigator. They show Michael Buchanan embellished his accounts of what drugs MacNeill used to kill his wife, and that he hid the fact he expected to win an early release on a drug conviction, Spencer said.

Buchanan picked up facts from cable TV coverage, Spencer said in the Dec. 27 motion to strike MacNeill’s conviction.

MacNeill served time with Buchanan in a federal prison in Texas where the doctor was held for identity theft before his 2012 arrest on a murder charge.

Buchanan was identified only as Inmate No. 1 at the trial, but has since been released from prison and identified in court papers.

He testified that MacNeill confessed to drugging his wife and holding her head under water in the tub. He insisted under cross-examination he would not receive a deal or early release for his testimony.

Emails show Utah authorities were successful in getting Buchanan released two years early Dec. 13, little more than a month after MacNeill was convicted.

“Mr. Buchanan was a very important witness,” Utah County investigator Jeff Robinson wrote Nov. 15 to federal prosecutors in Knoxville, Tenn., where Buchan was convicted of a drug charge. “I highly recommend and encourage leniency.”

Prosecutors say they’re confident November’s conviction will stand.

“We’re looking forward to responding to these allegations,” Utah County prosecutor Chad Grunander said. “We’ve got truth on our side, the rule of law and the jury has spoken.”

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Associated Press

Jurors must decide how much Newtown families suffering worth

WATERBURY, Conn. (AP) — After watching days of testimony that included the parents of slain children breaking down on the witness stand, a Connecticut jury soon will have the difficult task of coming up with a dollar amount that conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should pay for promoting the idea that the Sandy Hook school shooting […]
15 hours ago
Associated Press

Bail for suspect in police station shooting set at $500,000

CHICAGO (AP) — A judge on Wednesday set bail at $500,000 for a man suspected of pointing guns at Chicago police officers after he climbed a fire escape and through an open fifth- floor door of a building where they were training. Donald Patrick’s appearance in bond court before Cook County Judge Maryam Ahmad came […]
15 hours ago
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks to reporters as the Senate works to pass a sto...
Associated Press

McConnell suggests better odds of Republicans taking Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Wednesday that he believes his party now has a “50-50 shot” of getting the chamber back less than six weeks away from the midterm elections. “We are in a bunch of close races,” McConnell told reporters during a press conference. “It’s going to be really, really […]
15 hours ago
FILE - Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles, right, talks to Las Vegas Review-Journal re...
Associated Press

Fight over dead reporter’s sources stalls before Vegas judge

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A fight to block government access to a slain investigative journalist’s sources and unpublished work stalled Wednesday, when a Las Vegas judge said she didn’t have jurisdiction to consider the question. However, a lawyer heading efforts by Nevada’s largest newspaper, 43 media organizations and The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the […]
15 hours ago
FILE - J.R. Majewski, Republican candidate for U.S. Representative for Ohio's 9th Congressional Dis...
Associated Press

Records contradict Majewski’s account of military punishment

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican J.R. Majewski has centered his campaign for a competitive Ohio congressional seat around his biography as an Air Force veteran. But one of the big questions that has surfaced is why Majewski was told he could not reenlist in the Air Force after his initial four years were up. Majewski’s campaign […]
15 hours ago
This image released by the Orange County District Attorney's Office shows Hannah Star Esser, who au...
Associated Press

California woman charged with killing man over cat dispute

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A California woman has been charged with killing a man by ramming her car into him after accusing him of trying to run over a cat in the street, authorities said Wednesday. Hannah Star Esser, 20, was charged with murder in the death of Luis Anthony Victor, 43, and detained […]
15 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
Utah doctor seeks new trial in death of wife