Mistress says she moved in days after wife died

  • Article by: PAUL FOY
  • Associated Press
  • October 29, 2013 - 4:10 PM

PROVO, Utah — The mistress of a Utah doctor accused of killing his wife testified Tuesday that she moved into his house nine days after the death and received a marriage proposal and a $7,000 diamond ring from the defendant within months.

The judge allowed prosecutors to aggressively question Gypsy Willis as a hostile witness after they argued she was trying to protect Martin MacNeill with less than truthful answers as he stands trial for murder in the death of his wife Michele MacNeill.

"Are you telling us you don't know anything more about Michele's death?" prosecutor Sam Pead asked.

"That is correct," Willis replied.

MacNeill is accused of hounding his wife to get a face-lift, then administering a lethal combination of drugs for her recovery and helping her into a tub of water in April 2007.

In previous testimony, Willis said she traded text messages with the doctor 30 times that day. On Tuesday, she said she texted suggestive photos of herself to him on the day after the funeral.

Other testimony on Tuesday featured a 2008 videotaped police interview with the family's youngest daughter, Ada MacNeill, who was 6 when she found her mother in the bathtub after returning from school with her father.

She said her strongest memory was finding the bath water had turned brown.

"We found her in the tub," Ada MacNeill told the investigator about 18 months after the death. "She was still in clothes."

Several times on the tape, she said she didn't want to talk about the day her mother died. She later expanded on her memories after investigators asked one of her sisters to question her. The judge, however, ruled those accounts were tainted.

Defense lawyers declined to call the now-12-year-old girl into the courtroom for cross-examination.

"She doesn't have a credible memory to question," Randy Spencer, one of Martin MacNeill's defense lawyers, later told reporters outside court. "It's pointless to try."

Willis said she had been having a sexual relationship with MacNeill for 15 months before his wife died. The doctor set her up in a duplex, gave her a debit card for expenses, and helped pay for her schooling as a nursing student, she said.

Willis said the doctor hired her as a nanny about a week after the funeral of his wife, even though two of his older daughters have testified they suspected Willis was their father's mistress and didn't want her in the house.

Willis' mother testified that the doctor tried to win over her family on visits to their home.

At a lavish engagement party in early July 2007 at a Cheyenne restaurant, MacNeill "made a public show of dropping to a knee and asking her to marry him," Vicki Willis said.

"It was one of those relationships you could say was mutually respectful" with little affection shown, the mother testified.

A drug expert testified last week that Michele MacNeill had four nervous system depressants in her blood that would have had a powerful knockout effect. A cause of death was never established.

Defense lawyers argue she had a heart attack and fell into the tub.

On Wednesday, prosecutors plan to question three of MacNeill's oldest daughters, all estranged from their father. They believe he killed their mother but haven't offered any proof.

Prosecutors also plan to call someone they say was one of the doctor's previous mistresses to the stand.

© 2018 Star Tribune