SALT LAKE CITY -- The trial began Monday in federal court with jury selection and the dismissal of exactly one-third of the charges against former Brigham City orthopedic surgeon-turned-pain doctor Dewey MacKay.
In an order signed Monday, U.S. District Judge for Utah Dee Benson dismissed 43 of the 129 charges against MacKay of dealing prescription painkillers.
Prosecutors sought the dismissals Sunday in a motion describing the move as trial efficiency that wouldn't affect MacKay's sentence if convicted, while the defense labeled it a sign of the weakness of the case against the popular doctor, a former Brigham City Rotary Club president.
The defense Sunday also filed an updated witness list, adding U.S. Congressman Rob Bishop.
The federal courts feature electronic filing online. The witness list now numbers 81 names, while the defense's first witness list filed July 13 numbered 74, including Box Elder County Attorney Steve Hadfield and former Weber County Attorney Reed Richards, also for eight years the chief criminal prosecutor for the Utah Attorney General's Office.
At the urging of prosecutors, Benson asked lead defense counsel Peter Stirba to detail what is expected in the testimony of some of the witnesses, particularly the congressman.
Stirba said he couldn't say if all on the list would actually be called to testify, but that Bishop would likely take the stand as a character witness.
Much of Monday's jury selection process involved asking prospective jurors if they'd had experiences, either positive or negative, with prescription narcotics that would influence their deliberations if selected.
Thirty-one members of the 72-member jury pool said they had and were interviewed by the lawyers in Benson's chambers.
The lead prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney for Utah Michael Kennedy, filed the prosecution witness list on Sunday also, numbering 74 witnesses.
They include records custodians for four banks and four phone companies as well DEA and FBI agents, a computer forensics expert, a certified public accountant and former patients of MacKay.
The trial could run as long as five weeks, Benson informed the 12-member jury with two alternates, noting trial would not be held Monday, July 25, the official day to commemorate the July 24 Pioneer Day holiday, which falls on a Sunday this year.
The summerlong trial reconvenes Wednesday morning with opening arguments.
The 64-year-old Mac!Kay was indicted in August with the 129 counts of distribution of a controlled substance, allegations from an FBI/DEA investigation that have him prescribing more than 1.9 million hydrocodone pills and nearly 1.6 million oxycodone pills between June 1, 2005, and October 30, 2009.
The first two counts are tied to the death of a patient in 2006, according to the indictment.
The grand jury indictment claims that, from March 2007 to October 2009, MacKay would see 40 to 59 patients during a three-hour workday. He remains licensed to practice medicine, although the DEA revoked his certification to prescribe painkillers a few days before the federal indictment was handed down.