Witness: MacNeill told me he never loved his wife

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 - 9:00pm

 Former Utah doctor Martin MacNeill made a startling confession about his love for his wife after popping the question to his mistress, according to his mistress' mother, who testified Tuesday.

"He said to me that he had never loved Michele. And then he amended that to say, 'Well I did, I loved her as a sister but I did not love her the way I love Gypsy,'" Vicki Willis testified.

Martin MacNeill's wife, Michele, had been found lifeless in the family bathtub a few months earlier, on April 11, 2007. MacNeill has pleaded not guilty and his attorneys say his wife died of natural causes.

Tuesday marked the seventh day of testimony in MacNeill's murder trial in Provo, Utah. Jurors also heard from MacNeill's youngest daughter, Ada. She did not take the stand but an interview she gave in 2008 was played for the jury.

Ada MacNeill was 7 at the time of the interview and answered many of the questions about her family's home in Utah with, "I don't want to talk about it." She finally opened up about the morning she found her mother's body in the bathtub, saying the water was almost "brown" and that her mother was "all the way" in the bathtub.

This story contradicts what MacNeill allegedly told investigators and his older daughters: That he found his wife slumped over the tub, with her head in the water and her feet sticking out.

Prosecutors said MacNeill was motivated to drug and drown his wife to continue his affair with Gypsy Willis. She got back on the stand again Tuesday, after testifying briefly on Friday, to talk about the couple's relationship, which she said started in November 2005 while he was married to Michele MacNeill.

Willis said she had never been a nanny but Martin MacNeill moved her into the family's basement to take care of his children in the weeks after his wife died. She also said Martin MacNeill gave her a 4.5 carat ring worth $7,000 in July 2007, three months after his wife's death.

Gypsy Willis couldn't recall many details from the day MacNeill popped the question, saying, "The relationship has been over a very long time." Her mother, however, seemed to remember the day well.

Vicki Willis testified that the family set off fireworks for the couple while they visited Cheyenne, Wyoming, on July 4, 2007. The next day, according to Willis, MacNeill threw a party at a local restaurant.

"They were both very, very happy and he made a speech about his love for her and made a very public show of dropping to one knee and asking her to marry him and she said, 'Yes,' and it was a happy event," said Vicki Willis. "Frankly, we were giddy about Martin joining the family. Martin MacNeill is a very impressive person. He's tall, he has a bright white smile. He holds the title of doctor and also attorney... we were pleased, of course. Who wouldn't be?"

The couple never married but Gypsy Willis said she still called herself "Jillian MacNeill." Prosecutors entered into evidence an application for an identification card that would allow Willis to have access to military bases. On the form, the couple's wedding date is listed as April 14, 2007, the day of Michele MacNeill's funeral. Gypsy Willis testified that Martin MacNeill filled out the form.

Several of Michele MacNeill's friends also took the stand on Tuesday, describing the speech Martin MacNeill gave at his wife's funeral.

"I just remember his first comment that he made was, something to the effect that he stood there looking at his wife, who was in a pine box," said Loreen Thompson. "That's really the only thing that I remember about him talking about Michele. The rest of the talk that he gave that day was more about his life."

Michele MacNeill's sister, Linda Cluff, also said she overheard comments MacNeill was making at a luncheon after the funeral.

"He was smiling, joking around with some gentlemen ... it was particularly disturbing to me, it caught my eye to listen more because he was joking, saying he's going to have to get used to living the life of a bachelor and hanging out with buddies and golfing something to that effect," Cluff said.

Prosecutors also called Roma Henrie, another one of MacNeill's former co-workers, to testify about the Safety Fair happening the morning Michele MacNeill died. Henrie said she snapped a group photo at an awards ceremony that included MacNeill.

"He said, 'Did you get me in that picture? Make sure you got me in that picture. ... You maybe better take a second one, make sure you got me in that picture,'" Henrie testified.

Three of MacNeill's daughters, Sabrina, Vanessa and Alexis, are expected to take the stand on Wednesday. Testimony resumes at 10:30 a.m. ET.

MacNeill's trial is expected to take place over about five weeks. He faces life in prison if convicted.


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