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Court upholds sex abuse conviction for doctor found guilty of killing wife

(File photo)



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SALT LAKE CITY — The Court of Appeals has upheld a sexual abuse conviction for Martin MacNeill, a Utah County doctor made infamous when he was found guilty of murdering his wife.

Convicted in November 2013 of killing his beauty queen wife in 2007, MacNeill, 60, was found guilty again less than a year later of sexually abusing his daughter shortly after his wife's death.

The appellate court denied MacNeill's appeal on Friday, which claimed delays in the case violated his speedy trial rights, faulted his attorney for not objecting at trial when his daughter testified she believed McNeill had killed her mother, and disputed the trial court's decision not to move the high-profile case to a different venue.

The 15-page decision authored by Judge J. Frederic Voros denied all of MacNeill's claims.

The trial over 50-year-old Michelle MacNeill's death became a national true-crime sensation as prosecutors argued MacNeill, a lawyer and doctor, murdered his wife by overmedicating her after a face-lift surgery and drowning her in a bathtub. MacNeill forced her to continuously take prescription medication after the surgery, prosecutors said, then killed his wife to begin a new life with his mistress, Gypsy Willis.

MacNeill, who is also appealing the murder conviction, has maintained he is innocent in both cases. He has been sentenced to up to life in prison for his wife's death and one to 15 years in the sexual abuse case, with the two sentences running consecutively. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole decided last year that he likely won't get his first parole hearing until he is 96 years old.

MacNeill's daughter, who had moved back into her father's home to help care for her younger siblings after her mother's death, said MacNeill touched her inappropriately while she was sleeping in her parents' master bedroom on her mother's bed. She said her father later claimed he thought that she was his wife.

MacNeill's attorney argued at trial that the woman's belief MacNeill was responsible for her mother's death gave her an "ulterior motive" to falsely accuse her father of sexual abuse.

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McKenzie Romero

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