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MacNeill Trial Day 8: Daughters testify against their father - CourtJunkie

MacNeill Trial Day 8: Daughters testify against their father

October 30, 2013

Today was a pretty emotional day in the courtroom for the Martin MacNeill trial. Three of his daughters took the stand today to testify against their father, as well as another one of MacNeill’s mistresses (Yep, there’s another one).

State’s Witness: Vanessa MacNeill, MacNeills’ Daughter


Vanessa MacNeill is another daughter of Martin and Michele’s. She is also Ada’s biological mother. Below are highlights from her testimony.

  • Vanessa says that she is currently on probation for heroin possession. She was convicted in 2011, but says she’s clean now.
  • Vanessa learned of her mother’s death after receiving a phone call from her brother Damian. She threw the phone against the wall and broke it.
  • Vanessa took her mother’s phone as a replacement after her mother died. There were two old voicemails still on the phone. They were from her dad, saying that he was worried and needed for Michele to stay in bed and not move around.
  • Vanessa says she offered to watch the kids after Michele’s death. MacNeill told her that everyone needed to get on with their lives and that he would be hiring a nanny.
  • Vanessa said she was supposed to help interview potential applicants but only one person showed up – “Jillian” Gypsy Willis.
  • Alexis asked Vanessa if the nanny that was coming to interview was named Gypsy. Vanessa assured her it was not.

State’s Witness: Sabrina MacNeill, MacNeills’ Daughter


Sabrina MacNeill is one of the four adopted daughters of Martin and Michele. Below are highlights from her testimony.

  • When Sabrina was 10, she was adopted by a woman in New York. The woman only wanted Sabrina’s younger sister, so the MacNeills ended up adopting her. She was originally from Ukraine.
  • Sabrina was 12 years old when Michele died. She heard ambulances go by her school that day.
  • Sabrina says growing up in the MacNeill home was wonderful and that her life was perfect. MacNeill worked a lot.
  • Living in the MacNeill home was a dream come true, Sabrina says.
  • Michele would take the kids to school every morning and pick them up every day.
  • Damian’s friend picked up Sabrina and the other girls from school the day of Michele’s death. Sabrina says she knew that something bad had happened.
  • She met Gypsy a few weeks after Michele’s death when she was introduced as the nanny. Sabrina says Gypsy “didn’t do anything. She lived downstairs.” She said Gypsy cooked spaghetti once.
  • Sabrina remembers that Gypsy would go into her father’s bedroom at night. She also said they would go on vacations at the same time.
  • Sabrina saw Michele the morning of her death. She said Michele looked fine to her.
Cross Examination
  • Sabrina says she doesn’t remember if Martin was crying when he told them Michele had died. The Defense shows her an interview transcript with investigators in which Sabrina had said then that he was.
  • MacNeill did say to Sabrina, “I’m glad that families can be together forever.”
  • The Defense points out that Sabrina has been living with Alexis since her mother’s death.
  • The Defense brings up Sabrina’s prior testimony where she said that Michele didn’t seem like herself on the day she died. Sabrina says now that she just meant that Michele was tired.
  • The Defense brings up more discrepancies in her prior testimony to which Sabrina says, “I don’t remember.”

On Re-Direct, the Prosecution points out that Sabrina had also told investigators that her mother “seemed fine.”

State’s Witness: Anna Osbourne Walthall, MacNeill’s other mistress


Anna Walthall had an affair with MacNeill in 2005. Below are highlights from her testimony.

  • Walthall had a laser hair removal clinic in Salt Lake City that she opened in 2004. MacNeill was the medical director of the clinic.
  • Walthall was going through a divorce and MacNeill offered to be a liaison.
  • She and MacNeill began a sexual relationship in March 2005 – October 2005. Walthall ended the affair when she moved.
  • During what she calls “pillow talk,” Walthall says she and Martin had long talks about life, religion, death.
  • MacNeill told her that there is something you can give someone so it’s not detectable after they have a heart attack.
  • He said he could cause someone to have a heart attack by using a drug that is already in the body.
Cross Examination

On Cross Examination, the Defense brings up that fact that Walthall had told investigators that she had dreams about the case. In one dream, she said evidence would be found in a computer that would have all the answers to Michele’s death. The Defense also points out that Walthall has been diagnosed with “multiple personality disorder.” Walthall says that is an incorrect diagnosis, and that it is actually dissociative identity disorder.


On Re-Direct, Walthall says that she did not dream up any of her prior testimony. She also says that she has two bachelor’s degrees, has held full time jobs, and has raised a family, despite her mental disorder.

State’s Witness: Alexis Somers (MacNeill), MacNeills’ Daughter


Alexis is another one of the MacNeill daughters, and she is the one said to have spear-headed the campaign to get her father arrested. Below are highlights from her testimony.

  • Alexis changed her name to Alexis Somers (Michele’s maiden name) in 2010.
  • Alexis is a physician. She says she wanted to be a doctor because of her father. He was someone she had always looked up to and she wanted him to be proud of her.
  • On the day of Michele’s death, Alexis called home and MacNeill said, “Your mother’s in the tub and not breathing” and then hung up the phone.
  • Alexis dropped everything and went to the airport. She had been in Nevada for school. She had just flown back to Nevada from Utah the night before her mother’s death. She had been taking care of her.
  • Damian called while Alexis was at the airport and told her that Michele had died.
  • Before Michele’s surgery, Alexis had gone to the pre-op appointment with her parents. She said her mom was hesitant to get the surgery.
  • Michele wanted to wait to get the surgery, so she could lose weight and get her blood pressure under control. MacNeill had a “strong reaction” to that. He wanted her to go through with it.
  • MacNeill gave the doctor a list of prescriptions he wanted the doctor to prescribe for Michele. Alexis said she was embarrassed that her father was doing that. “It’s not my dad’s place to do that.”
  • Alexis says MacNeill was the entire family’s primary care doctor. She doesn’t remember ever seeing another doctor aside from him.
  • Michele’s surgery was about 6 – 8 hours. Alexis stayed there all day; MacNeill left to go to work.
  • Michele wanted to stay overnight after the surgery. MacNeill got upset, and said he wanted for her to go home.
Cross Examination
  • The Defense asks, “It’s fair to say that your memory closer in time to events is better than it is today?” Alexis responds that for certain things, yes.
  • Alexis says she took MacNeill’s phone to get his password for phone records. She told him she was downloading a ringtone.
  • The Defense refers to Alexis’ version of events as a “story,” and says that her testimony today is different. Alexis says she was told to only answer questions that she was asked.
  • The Defense accuses Alexis of modifying her story so it makes sense. She says that is not correct.
  • The Defense plays in court an interview that Alexis gave to 20/20, in an attempt to point out inconsistencies. In the interview, Alexis states that she confronted her dad after Michele told her that he had given her too many meds. Today, Alexis testifies that she confronted her dad first.
  • The Defense says Alexis has new records about mom’s medications. They said the timing coincides with the civil lawsuit Alexis brought against MacNeill.
  • The Defense says that Alexis used to record her mother’s medications in a green book, and then switched to a black book. She never mentioned the green book until 2011.
  • There is a discrepancy in when Alexis says she spoke with her mother versus the phone records. Alexis says she spoke with her at 19:30 and her phone log shows the call at 10:50. Alexis says she must have put the times down wrong in her statement.

Cross-examination will continue tomorrow.

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.

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