MacNeill Trial Day 9: Manner of death is “undetermined”

October 31, 2013

Today’s testimony in the Martin MacNeill trial began with the continued cross examination of Martin and Michele’s daughter, Alexis Somers (MacNeill). After her cross-examination ended, Dr. Todd Gray, the second medical examiner in the case, took the stand.

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


The cross examination of Alexis Somers continued today, with the Defense still trying to discredit her. Below are some more highlights from her cross.

  • The Defense recites some discrepancies in Alexis’ prior statements regarding her mother’s bathing routines. The Defense says that in one statement she said Michele would undress in the bathroom and in another, she said Michele would undress in the closet. Alexis responds that the closet is in the bathroom.
  • Alexis had a friend who was also a physician obtain her mother’s labs, which the Defense says is a HIPPA violation.
  • On her medical school application, Alexis wrote down Rachel as a reference, saying that she was a nanny for her, although Rachel has no children. Alexis says she wrote that in reference to her taking care of her younger sisters.

On Re-Direct, the Prosecutor asks Alexis to clarify a lot of what she said during cross-examination. Alexis says her mom was still in recovery from her surgery 8 days afterwards. She said she got her mom’s labs from her friend because she believed her father murdered her mother.

Jury Questions

The jury had four questions for Alexis, which are paraphrased below.

  • “Do you know what Michele’s pre-marriage name was?” Answer: Somers.
  • “Who appointed you as executor?” Answer: I believe my father drew my mom’s will up.
  • “When you left on the 10th, did you believe your parents were leaving on a cruise that Sunday?” Answer: No.
  • “Was your father present when your mother said she didn’t want him giving more medications?” Answer: No.

State’s Witness: Dr. Todd Gray, Medical Examiner


Dr. Todd Gray is the second medical examiner in this case. He changed the manner of death to “undetermined.” Below are highlights from his testimony.

  • Dr. Fricke’s report (first ME) didn’t include the toxicology report. Dr. Fricke concluded that Michele died of heart disease.
  • Dr. Gray says there can be differences in opinions of the existence of myocarditis, and that the manner of death can be debatable.
  • In his report, Dr. Gray changed the cause of death and added the drug toxicology report.
  • Dr. Gray says drowning is a possible of cause of death for Michele.
Cross Examination
  • Dr. Gray says he often worked with Dr. Fricke, and that he didn’t think she made any mistakes in her report.
  • Dr. Gray says he didn’t see enough evidence of drowning to include that in his report.
Jury Questions

The jury asked Dr. Gray three questions, which are paraphrased below.

  • “If Michele had been given Arnica would it show it?” Answer: I don’t know what Arnica is.
  • “How many samples of Michele’s were taken?” Answer: We usually take three.
  • “If drowning was a possibility; what was the possibility in Michele?” Answer: The weight of the lungs.

Dr. Gray’s testimony went on for a good part of the day, but I only posted what I thought were the highlights of the testimony – basically, the fact that he changed the manner of death to “undetermined” and added that drugs could have played a role.

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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