PROVO -- The former Utah doctor charged with murder in his wife's death told police and paramedics who arrived at the couple's house that she was to blame for taking too much pain medication following a face-lift and had fallen into a bathtub filled with water, witnesses testified Tuesday.
Prosecutors claim defendant Martin MacNeill had actually helped his wife, Michelle, into the tub. They say he hounded her to get the cosmetic surgery and administered the lethal combination of medicine so he could carry on an affair with a woman who was later introduced to his family as a nanny.
MacNeill returned to work the week after her death wearing a different wedding ring, one of his co-workers testified.
MacNeill said his wife had collapsed "face-down in a tub the wrong way," recalled Steve Mickelson, a nurse who worked at the Utah State Hospital where MacNeill was medical director.
Mickelson was the last of seven witnesses to testify Tuesday. The trial resumes Wednesday.
The 2007 case shocked the Mormon community of Pleasant Grove, about 35 miles south of Salt Lake City, because the suspect was a doctor and had been a church leader. MacNeill has since surrendered his medical license.
Several officers and paramedics testified that MacNeill was belligerent and threatening after summoning help to his house to aid his wife. They said they did not initially find his behavior suspicious or believe the death was a homicide, however, and authorities closed the case after an autopsy suggested Michelle MacNeill had died of a heart attack.
Prosecutors now contend that MacNeill was faking concern for his wife and deflecting blame for her death. They questioned witnesses who recalled that MacNeill was in a lab coat cursing his wife and God while ordering paramedics to inject his wife with drugs to jolt her alive.
"She was obviously lifeless," said Pleasant Grove Fire Chief Marc Sanderson, who was among a number of paramedics and officers who swarmed the couple's house in April 2007. He said resuscitation efforts "weren't working at all."
MacNeill's angry demeanor continued at a hospital, where he was kicked out of a trauma bay because of it, and he cried after his wife was declared dead, Sanderson said.
At one point, MacNeill thundered, "'I've given the church so much time and money, and this is what I get for it?'" recalled Steven Brande, a Pleasant Grove fire captain and paramedic.
Investigators have said Martin MacNeill, now 57, helped his wife into the bathtub where she may have drowned. No cause of death was established.
Defense lawyers maintain Michelle MacNeill died of a heart attack while filling the tub, not because of any actions of her husband.