The daughter of a Utah doctor on trial for murder in his wife's death told jurors Wednesday about how her mother confronted her father about his affair before her death and how her father admitted to overmedicating her mother the night she returned home after face-lift surgery.
"I went to my father and I said, 'What happened? Obviously mom is overmedicated.' He said, 'Yeah, I think I gave her too much medicine. I must have given her too much medicine,'" said Martin MacNeill's daughter Alexis Somers. "I asked her what happened ... She said, 'Lexi, I don't know why, but your dad kept giving me medication. He kept giving me things, telling me to swallow.' She said, 'I even started to throw up...' She was upset. I knew my mom -- I could hear it in her voice."
Somers said she left her mom in her dad's care on the night of April 10, 2007, so she could return to medical school in Nevada. Less than 24 hours later, her mother, Michele MacNeill, was dead.
Martin MacNeill is now on trial in Provo, Utah, in his wife's death. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and obstruction of justice. His defense attorneys say Michele MacNeill died of natural causes, but prosecutors have accused Martin MacNeill of drugging and drowning his wife on April 11, 2007, to continue his affair with a woman named Gypsy Willis.
Somers said she knew about her father's lover and that her mother knew, too. The pair had accessed Martin MacNeill's phone records, according to Somers, and paid for an Intelius search to learn more about the phone number Martin MacNeill would call late at night. The name attached to that number was "Gypsy Jillian Willis," she said.
A couple of days before Michele MacNeill's death, Somers said she heard her parents arguing about Willis behind closed doors.
"My mom had confronted him previously, but she confronted him again at that time and said, 'I don't believe your story, I want the phone records, I'm not going to let this die' -- that's what she said... He told her that she was crazy. He said it's ridiculous, he's not having an affair. He said that she couldn't get his phone records," Somers said.
Shortly after the confrontation, Somers said she went with her parents to a preoperative consultation with her mother's plastic surgeon. In the car on the way there, Somers said her mother was showing some hesitation about having the face-lift and suggested delaying the surgery, which was scheduled for the next day, April 3, 2007.
"(Martin MacNeill) got really angry at my mom and said, 'No you cannot do that. If you don't have the surgery now, you're not getting it.' He was raising his voice and very animated and also said that he had already paid for the anesthesiologist and the operating suite," said Somers. "And he also said if we didn't go through with the surgery, Dr. Thompson (the plastic surgeon) would be out a lot of money."
Her mother had the surgery the next day, and Somers, who was a first-year medical student at the time, said she planned to stick by her mom's side during her recovery. On the night they got home from the hospital, however, she said her dad "insisted that I leave. He pretty much forced me out." She stayed in her sister's room that night, and the next morning -- April 5, 2007 -- Somers said she found her mom "overmedicated" and not responding to questions. Later that day, Somers said her mom became responsive again.
"She said that she didn't want my dad to give her any more medicine and she actually had me take out every single pill from the pill bottles and she wanted to feel what the pills felt like in her fingers so that if my dad tried to give her anything, she'd know what he was giving her," said Somers, who explained that her mom wasn't able to see because she had bandages over her eyes.
On cross-examination, the defense accused Somers of trying to keep her father from inheriting the house because she thought he killed her mother. Defense attorney Randy Spencer also said Somers never told the medical examiner that there was an overmedication issue before her mother's death.
Spencer also walked Somers through several apparent inconsistencies in her statements. For example, she told jurors she flew into Utah from Nevada and went home before going to the hospital the day her mother died, while she told investigators she went to the hospital before going home.
Two of Somers' sisters, Vanessa and Sabrina MacNeill, also took the stand Wednesday.
Vanessa MacNeill said she took possession of her mother's cell phone after her death. She said she heard a voice mail allegedly left by her father the morning her mother died. On the message, Vanessa MacNeill said her father told her mother to take it easy, to stay in bed, that he was worried about her and that they were going to "have a lovely lunch together" when he got home.
Sabrina MacNeill was adopted by the family around the time she turned 11. "It was exactly what I dreamed of," she said. After her mother's death, Sabrina MacNeill said, Gypsy Willis became the family's nanny.
"She didn't do much. She made spaghetti once and that was the only time she ever cooked. She didn't do anything. She lived downstairs," she said.
Anna Walthall also took the stand briefly Wednesday to talk about the affair she said she had with Martin MacNeill in 2005. Walthall said that during "pillow talk" conversations, MacNeill told her he knew how -- without being detected -- to make it look like someone had had a heart attack. On cross-examination, Walthall admitted to having dreams about the case and being diagnosed with associative personality disorder.
Somers is scheduled to take the stand again Thursday morning so the defense can finish its cross-examination. The prosecution has indicated it plans to call medical examiner Dr. Todd Grey to testify Thursday.
MacNeill's trial is expected to last about five weeks. He faces life in prison if convicted.