SALT LAKE CITY -- Now that the defense has begun of Brigham City doctor Dewey MacKay, accused of overprescribing narcotics, the gallery behind him has filled up with supporters.
Even during the presentation of the prosecution's case for the first three weeks of trial, family, friends and neighbors sat on MacKay's side of the courtroom.
The gallery in U.S. District Judge Dee Benson's courtroom is bisected by an aisle in the middle. The courtroom division also features the prosecution table on one side and the defense on the other. So, naturally, the DEA investigators and others assisting the U.S. Attorneys Office line up on one side of the room; the defense camp sets up on the other.
And now the jury can clearly see the growing crowd in the gallery behind MacKay. At least five rows are occupied every day now, compared to two or so on the other side.
When these supporters are asked about their friendship with MacKay, they almost invariably answer in the plural to include his wife of 41 years, Kathleen.
"We love the beloved MacKays," said Tonya Donaldson, of Brigham City, speaking in a courtroom hallway during a break in the trial.
How long has she known them? "Let's see, how old am I -- all my life."
She has attended virtually every day of MacKay's trial since it began with jury selection July 18.
"We've known them ever since they moved to Brigham (in 1981)," said another friend, who has been able to sit in support of the doctor virtually every day of the trial. "I skipped jury selection," he said.
MacKay, 64, is charged with 86 counts of felony drug distribution. The doctor is accused of prescribing more than 1.9 million pills of hydrocodone and nearly 1.6 million pills of oxycodone between June 1, 2005, and Oct. 30, 2009, from his Brigham City office.
From 2005 to February 2007, MacKay saw 100 to 120 patients every eight-hour workday, doing little but filling out prescriptions, according to a federal grand jury indictment handed down a year ago, which said that all those pills went out for no valid medical reason.
MacKay's son, John, and John's wife of six months have been on hand for every day of the trial, occasionally solo, but one is always there. He owns his own Internet marketing business in Provo, so he can excuse his own absence.
"But I work more hours than my employees do, so I worry about that," he said.
MacKay's sister has flown in from Dallas several times for the trial.
Other friends of the MacKays have come from as far as Idaho, Helper and South Ogden, not just his closest circle of friends in Brigham City, where MacKay has twice been president of the Rotary Club in the last five years.
It's been hard, they said, watching the prosecution witnesses describe MacKay in less-than-flattering terms.
"But I've definitely enjoyed the cross-examination," said MacKay's loyal friend and neighbor who declined to be identified, saying his ecclesiastical duties in Brigham City require that he remain publicly neutral.
"Their witnesses step up there, then the cross begins, and they start chipping away and chipping away, and then 'That's the guy I know.' You have to be patient waiting for the pendulum to swing back."
"I think God knows the truth, and the truth will come out," Donaldson said.