The Martin MacNeill trial continued today after a long weekend, with the State bringing on more witnesses to testify about the scene at the time of Michele’s death, as well as MacNeill’s behavior. Below are some highlights from Day 3’s testimony.
State’s Witness: Joshua Motsinger, Pleasant Grove Police Officer
The first witness called to the stand today was Josh Motsinger. He is a police officer with the Pleasant Grove Police Department. Below are the highlights from his testimony.
- On April 11, 2007, Motsinger was called to the MacNeill home for a medical emergency call. He was told a female in her 50s had slipped and fallen in the bathtub.
- He and Ray Ormond were partners at the time and arrived at the same time.
- He was greeted at the door by a male he believed to be Doug Daniels. He went into the master bathroom, and saw a female lying on the bathroom floor and MacNeill was over her, performing chest compressions. MacNeill was yelling at her, “Why did you do this?” and “he struck her in the chest with one of his hands.”
- Michele was unclothed from the waist down. Her upper body had a white garment top on, and her hair and upper body appeared to be wet.
- Ormond and Motsinger took over the CPR from MacNeill. Motsinger started with compressions and Ormond did mouth to mouth.
- Michele’s body was cold and her skin was wet. Her skin was pale white.
- He noticed a little bit of blood coming from cuts around her eyes and hairline. There was some bruising and it appeared she had surgery.
- Another medic arrived on scene, so they moved Michele to the bedroom to continue CPR.
- Motsinger points on a diagram where Michele’s body was when he arrived and where they moved her.
- As they continued CPR, they started to hear gurgling noises. He was now in charge of mouth to mouth and Ormond was doing chest compressions. They turned her to her side (whole body) and she expelled some liquid. The liquid got on his gloves, his arm, his leg, and went into his boot.
- He does not recall if he saw Michele’s chest rise.
- Normally, if the chest isn’t rising, they will re-position the body until they see it rise. He does not recall if they re-positioned her, but that’s what they would have done if it wasn’t rising.
- MacNeill was yelling and cursing Michele for having the surgery. “I told her not to do it.”
- MacNeill said he found her slumped over in the tub. He said Michele had facial surgery and told Motsinger that she was taking a lot of medications.
- Prosecutor asked, “Can CPR be done when someone is slumped over in a tub?” Motsinger answered, “No.”
- Motsinger filled out a police report on the same day. In the report, Motsinger says that when he walked into the room he observed two males performing CPR. Motsinger reads the report and agrees that is what it says.
- Defense asks if a woman possibly greeted him at the door and not Doug Daniels, and Motsinger says no, he remembers a male.
- Defense asks if Motsinger believes that his testimony today is based on what he actually heard or what he heard others say that MacNeill said. Motsinger says he heard it himself.
- The Defense asked about MacNeill thumping on Michele’s chest and asks him if he interpreted that as MacNeill trying to revive her. Motsinger says he isn’t sure what his interpretation was.
- On December 10, 2008, Motsinger was interviewed along with other officers about the incident. It was a group interview where Motsinger discussed MacNeill’s statement about finding Michele “slumped over” in the tub. Motsinger said in the interview that MacNeill had found her slumped over the tub, with her bottom half out of the tub. The Defense is pointing out inconsistencies in his report versus his testimony today.
- The Defense asks Motsinger how long they had been performing CPR before the liquid was expelled from Michele’s lungs. Motsinger said he isn’t sure, but it seemed like forever.
- Motsinger only remembers Michele throwing up once. (Last week, Ormond said it was twice)
- Motsinger says he recalls that Michele was wearing a white garment top and a bra.
- Motsinger was not looking for lividity.
- After Michele threw up once, Motsinger stopped doing CPR and someone else took over. Ormond may have continued on.
No jury questions for Motsinger.
State’s Witness: Mark Sanderson, Pleasant Grove Fire Chief
The State called Mark Sanderson, the Fire Chief in Pleasant Grove. Below are some highlights from his testimony.
- On April 11, 2007, Sanderson responded to the MacNeill home with Chief Thomas.
- Sanderson’s first encounter with MacNeill was at the entrance of the home. He was drawn to him because of the way he was acting. He was very excited and very loud.
- He continued on to the bathroom, but MacNeill’s behavior caused him to go back and remove MacNeill from the location so medical personnel could work on Michele. MacNeill was being loud and giving orders about treatment.
- MacNeill was “so disruptive” to the crew. It was concerning enough that Sanderson felt he needed to ask him to step away.
- Michele was pale, her hair was wet, there were incisions above both eyes that were bleeding. She was “obviously lifeless.”
- Typically, they would question the witness in front of everyone so the entire crew could hear what was going on, but MacNeill was so loud that he had to take him away. MacNeill made a comment that Michele had overdosed on her pain medication, and that she must have slipped and fallen and hit her head. MacNeill said he was only gone for a short period of time.
- Sanderson said there was no difficulty in MacNeill’s movement.
- MacNeill didn’t want to talk to Dr. Van Wagoner, an ER doctor, on the phone. He kept asking for a different doctor that he used to work with.
- No Valium, Percocet, Phernergen, or any other depressant drugs were given to Michele by the first responders.
- MacNeill commented that based on being an LDS member and all the money he has spent, this is how God had repaid him.
- At the emergency room, MacNeill’s behavior continued and the ER staff had to call security. He was “loud and disruptive.” He was “very mobile about the ER.”
- The Defense said that Sanderson never said previously that security was called in the ER, yet he had plenty of opportunities to.
- Sanderson recalled that Michele may have been wearing pink sweats at the time of his original interview, but doesn’t recall them now. He also said in the original interview that Michele’s hair was wet and her clothes were dry.
- Defense points out that Sanderson asked MacNeill what may have happened, and MacNeill was just responding with what may have happened.
- Sanderson specifically recalls that the amount of time MacNeill said he had been away gave Sanderson hope that she could possibly be revived. Sanderson can’t recall how long MacNeill said he had been gone for. In prior interviews, he had said it could be 10 minutes or 30 minutes. Sanderson now says he doesn’t recall saying 30 minutes.
- Sanderson only witnessed Michele and the resuscitation efforts for less than 60 seconds. His attention was drawn to MacNeill.
- The EMS report indicates a glucose check, but Sanderson testified previously that no glucose was given. Sanderson says he didn’t witness it being given, and that it wasn’t on the report, but there may have just not been enough space on the report to write it in. It may have been given, but it just isn’t on the report. It may have been given when Sanderson was talking to MacNeill.
Sanderson was about 4 feet above Michele, and 2 feet back when he saw her. He never touched her or her clothing.
Sanderson previously testified that Michele’s hair was wet, and her clothes were dry, which he recalls from his observations. The Defense asks if it’s fair to say that perhaps all of his observations weren’t correct. Sanderson said no, that’s not fair to say. The Defense says that Sanderson had previously said she may have been wearing pink sweats but said he may have been incorrect since no one else recalled it. Sanderson agrees.
The jury asked Sanderson three questions, which are paraphrased below:
- “Was a blood sugar test re-stocked?” Answer: Yes.
- “Was glucose or dextrose restocked?” Answer: I can’t tell you that it was physically restocked, but the form indicates that it was.
- “You testified that you don’t usually respond to these situations but under the circumstances of this one, you did. What made you respond?” Answer: Pleasant Grove was in the process of going from a volunteer to a staffed fire station. I wasn’t tied up in a meeting, and based on the unconscious, not breathing situation, you know they are going to be overwhelmed at the scene. It could have even been the tone of the dispatcher’s voice. There are a lot of circumstances that come into play that helps me decide whether or not to go.
State’s Witness: Steven Brande, Pleasant Grove Fire Department Captain Paramedic
Steven Brande is a captain paramedic at the Pleasant Grove Fire Department. Brande normally responds to fire and medical calls, ahead of an ambulance or fire truck. Below are the highlights from his testimony:
- On April 11, 2007, Brande was dispatched to a call where a female was reported to be under water in the bathtub.
- When he arrived, MacNeill was on the front doorstep yelling.
- He was yelling “What’s taking so long? Get inside!”
- He was very agitated and very angry.
- Brande went inside and observed two police officers doing CPR on Michele by the bathtub. He asked them to move her to the bedroom.
- They continued CPR and hooked up equipment to her. Michele had clothing on, but he isn’t sure what type. He thinks she had clothing on top and bottom.
- MacNeill was yelling and screaming about having given the Church so much money and time and this is what he gets for it. He was also screaming about how she may have taken some medication, and that she had to have that surgery and look what it did to her.
- Physically, MacNeill was darting in and out of the room. Brande was concerned about his own safety. There was so much agitation there, he felt like he couldn’t predict his behavior. He asked for him to be removed from the area. It was hard to concentrate.
- At the emergency room, MacNeill was still very agitated and was yelling and screaming. He yelled, “I’ll give you all that I have if you save her.”
- Michele was very pale, cold, and her hair was wet and her skin was wet. Her clothes were somewhat dry.
- Michele was given epinepheren, and some other medications, but no depressants.
- The heart monitor was showing that Michele was flat-lined, and they were unable to restore it.
- Brande was present in the group interview in December 2008. He said he could remember cutting off a white garment and another top and that he believes that she had garment bottoms on, but not sure about bottoms.
- The Defense says that he described MacNeill as being quite frantic. Brande says now that he was more agitated than frantic. In the group interview, however, he had said “pretty frantic,” which was closer to the event than today.
In the group interview transcript, Brande said MacNeill was frantic at the front porch.
He has no specific memory of who cut the clothing off.
MacNeill was crying when he found out Michele had died.
Glucose was possibly given to Michele. It wasn’t done on the scene but it could have been done en route to the hospital, but Brande wasn’t present.
No jury questions for Brande.
State’s Witness: David Thomas, Deputy Fire Chief
David Thomas was the Deputy Fire Chief at the Pleasant Grove Fire Department. Below are some highlights from his testimony:
- Thomas responded to the MacNeill home with Chief Sanderson. He found a female patient in full cardiac and pulmonary arrest.
- CPR was in progress when he arrived. He does not recall which position he took in the CPR efforts.
- MacNeill was moving about the house and would occasionally stop and make comments as they were doing CPR. He doesn’t remember specific comments but said MacNeill seemed to be “fairly excited.”
- MacNeill would occasionally give directions on what type of drugs the medics should use and what they should be doing. They were already doing those things, just not necessarily in the same order as MacNeill wanted.
- Thomas doesn’t recall how he knew that MacNeill was a doctor.
- MacNeill was cursing God. He said that he had been a bishop and wondered why God would do this to him.
- In the ER, MacNeill said he would given anything if they could save her.
There was no cross examination and no jury questions for this witness.
State’s Witness: Dan Beckstrom, Pleasant Grove Police Officer
Beckstrom has been a full-time police officer since 2006. Below are some highlights from his testimony:
- Beckstrom was dispatched to the MacNeill home on April 11, 2007. There were neighbors in the front yard. He stayed by the front door, since there were so many other people assisting Michele.
- Because MacNeill had to stay out of the bathroom, MacNeill was by the front door too. He was “hysterical” and pacing.
- Beckstrom was trying to calm him down. He was concerned that he was going to hyperventilate. MacNeill said, “I’m a doctor, I know I’m ok, don’t tell me what to do.”
- When paramedics brought Michele out on the gurney, MacNeill started questioning them about what they had done.
- Beckstrom had a discussion with another officer about MacNeill’s demeanor afterwards.
- Beckstrom never had to keep MacNeill from going into the room, but he was shouting and pacing.
- Beckstrom said he had only been a full-time officer for less than a year at the time he was dispatched to this call.
- Beckstrom was interviewed in a group setting as well and could hear the other officers’ answers about the incident.
The jury only had one question for this witness, which I paraphrased below:
- “After Michele was transported, did you notice any clothing in the bedroom or on the bathroom floors? If so, what color were the clothing items?” Answer: I don’t recall if there was any clothing in the bathroom.
State’s Witness: Marc Wright, Pleasant Grove Police Officer
Marc Wright was a detective at the Pleasant Grove Police Department in April 2007. Below are highlights from his testimony:
- Wright arrived at the MacNeill home on April 11, 2007, and observed officers performing CPR in the bathroom.
- MacNeill was dressed in doctor scrubs and a white lab coat. He was very animated and loud. He seemed to be “very very upset.”
- Wright recalled MacNeill saying, “Why did you have to have this f—— surgery?”
- Wright took photographs at the scene. The Prosecutor has him review them in court. They are admitted into evidence.
- Wright identified the pictures from the scene below.
On Re-cross, Wright said that he did learn all of those things over the course of the summer. In September 2007, they had received the autopsy results and were not going to proceed with any investigation.
- “In State’s exhibit 32, there is a dark object next to the shampoo and conditioner bottles. Can you identify that object?” Answer: I don’t know.
- “You testified that you took a photo of some clothing in the bathroom. Did you have an opportunity to observe that clothing? Do you know whether it was wet or dry?” Answer: It was extremely wet.
- “Did you see pants or LDS bottoms anywhere in the bedroom or bathroom?” Answer: Not that I can recall.
The photographs and diagram were then published to the jury.
State’s Witness: Steven Mickelson, Worked with MacNeill
Steven Mickelson was a nurse practitioner at the Utah Developmental Center in American Fork, where MacNeill was a medical director. He worked there from 1996 – 2007. Below are highlights from his testimony:
- MacNeill was Mickelson’s supervisor. Their relationship was strictly at work but occasionally they would attend benefits together.
- Mickelson says MacNeill had a “very strong personality.”
- Mickelson said that generally, any medical emergencies (“code scenes”) handled by MacNeill were handled well.
- On April 11, 2007, Mickelson was returning to his office when one of his coworkers said that something was wrong at the MacNeill home and asked him to go.
- Mickelson drove to the MacNeill home, which was about 2 – 3 minutes away. When he arrived, he saw multiple emergency vehicles.
- MacNeill was at the door and told Mickelson to go inside and help. He went to the bedroom and saw four EMTs who were working on Michele’s body.
- Michele looked pale, was completely unclothed, and she had a gash above one eye. He said that surprisingly the wound didn’t have a lot of blood coming down her face.
- Mickelson watched the EMTs perform CPR. He said Michele was hooked up to a machine at that point. The machine was showing that there wasn’t much of a heart beat.
- Mickelson could see into the bathroom and he said that the tub had no water in it.
- Mickelson went back to the front door, and MacNeill handed him a phone and told him to “tell Alexis what’s going on.” Mickelson spoke to Alexis and told her she had to get there fast. Alexis is the MacNeills’ daughter and Mickelson was familiar with her.
- Mickelson said MacNeill was pretty distraught.
- Mickelson said MacNeill normally wore a button-down shirt and pants, and didn’t wear a suit or scrubs to work very often.
- After Michele’s death, Mickelson said he was surprised to see MacNeill back at work just shy of a week after her death. He didn’t take his bereavement days off. MacNeill showed up to work early in the morning the next week.
- Mickelson went into MacNeill’s office and asked MacNeill what had happened and he said that he picked up Ada from school, took her home, and Ada ran into the room and ran out saying, “Something’s wrong with Mommy.” He said he then went into the room and saw her face down the wrong way in the tub. He said he pulled her out of the tub and started performing CPR on her. Then he called 911.
- MacNeill told Mickelson that she had been clothed, and there was a lot of blood in the water.
- MacNeill said, “You know Michele had surgery right?”
- MacNeill didn’t say what he thought happened, just let Mickelson draw his own conclusions.
- Mickelson was aware that MacNeill was using a cane, which had to do with his toe that had a medical problem. MacNeill had told him that it was potentially a genetic problem. He said he had sought treatment at the Mayo Clinic.
- Mickelson doesn’t recall cancer ever being brought up.
- After Michele’s death, Mickelson said MacNeill was wearing a different wedding ring on his ring finger. It had a distinctive black stripe on it that was different from his normal ring he wore.
- MacNeill seemed relatively calm about talking about Michele’s death. “He seemed to be taking it ok.”
- The Defense tries to establish that MacNeill was more on the administrative side, than on the practicing provider side of his job. Mickelson said no, MacNeill was a practicing physician also.
- Mickelson socialized with MacNeill on a limited basis.
- MacNeill’s toe started bothering him in 2005 or 2006. As time progressed, he ended up using a cane.
- The Defense goes over the preliminary trial script, in which Mickelson said that MacNeill started using a cane when the toe problem first came up.
- No code scenes that MacNeill and Mickelson had gone on together required lifting anyone out of a bath tub.
- Mickelson had only witnessed MacNeill perform CPR once.
- Mickelson said that MacNeill was animated, which is often how he displays anger. He didn’t take it as MacNeill being angry at police, he just had a high anxiety level.
- Mickelson says today that he was in the room with Michele for about 2 – 3 minutes but in the preliminary hearing, he had said only 1 – 2 minutes.
- Martin was a hard worker and got to work early and would leave late a lot. He worked weekends, and wasn’t the type that would lounge around. Martin often had a side job at a plasma center or med spa.
- In the convo he had with MacNeill after Michele’s death (just shy of a week after), MacNeill didn’t give Mickelson a lot of details, such as timing of the ambulances arriving, the fact that the neighbors had helped. etc. He didn’t go through details.
- MacNeill did specifically say that she was face down in the tub, the wrong way, and that the water was bloody.
- When MacNeill had handed the phone over to Mickelson to talk to Alexis, he was very distraught.
- Mickelson vaguely recalls writng a prescriptipn for Michele in 2002 for 30 pills of Valium and 30 pills of Lortab. He did it as a professional courtesy to MacNeill. Mickelson said he was uncomfortable with the quantities but he did it anyway as a one time thing.
- The Prosecutor shows Mickelson the preliminary hearing transcript again. Mickelson says in the hearing that he didn’t know the exact date of the toe injury.
- On April 11,2007, MacNeill was not the same way he was normally at work, only in rare instances. He has seen MacNeill act that way before in other code scenes, but it was rare.
- Regarding the prescriptions he wrote for Michele in 2002, Mickelson said he never saw or met with Michele about them. He did it for the MacNeill and only because he had asked him to.
The Defense goes back to the preliminary hearing transcript and points out that Mickelson said then that in either 2005 or 2006, MacNeill started using a cane.
The jury asked Mickelson two questions, which I have paraphrased below.
- “Since Martin was a supervisor, did you feel like you had to go to the work benefits in order to stay in good favor with the Defendant?” Answer: No, I didn’t feel obligated to go.
- “What was the reason MacNeill gave in 2002 for Michele needing Loritab and Valium?” Answer: It seems like he said she hit her head or had a hurt neck and needed something for pain and a stiff neck. I was a little uncomforrtable with the quanitities but I conceded.
Mickelson was the best witness for the State so far, in my opinion, maybe because no one has gone up to contradict anything he has said yet. I thought there were a few things that stood out in Mickelson’s testimony. The fact that MacNeill had asked him to write prescriptions for Michele in 2002 shows that MacNeill really was her primary care doctor and would get prescriptions for her. The other part of his testimony that I thought was interesting was the fact that MacNeill was wearing a different wedding ring and didn’t take his bereavement days after her death. The thing is, it’s definitely odd behavior, but it doesn’t necessarily make him a murderer. The main takeaway from his testimony, however, was the fact that MacNeill told him that he had found Michele face down in the tub. Everyone else claimed that she was face up when they saw her.
The other witnesses today continued to paint the scene as a chaotic one, with MacNeill acting erratically. The Defense often referred them back to the preliminary hearing, in which their testimony may have varied (even if slightly). The thing is, it’s very difficult for these witnesses to remember details from six years ago.
Testimony should get better for the State once the MacNeills’ daughters take the stand, as well as his mistresses.
Background of the case:
Dr. Martin MacNeill is on trial for allegedly drugging and drowning his wife Michele, who was found dead in their bathtub. The first medical examiner ruled that her death was an accident due to heart problems. The second medical examiner changed the manner of death to “undetermined,” which led the way for the murder charges against MacNeill. Within weeks of Michele’s death, MacNeill moved his mistress, Gypsy Willis, into the family home. Gypsy took on the identity of Jillian MacNeill, although she and Martin never officially married. This is mostly a circumstantial case, with no direct evidence proving that Michele died as the result of a murder, or that MacNeill killed her.