Martin MacNeill was found guilty of killing his wife Michele in November. Two months later, jailers found him attempting to commit suicide in his cell. It was at that time that his lawyers ordered a competency evaluation to be done to determine if Martin MacNeill was competent enough to stand trial in a forcible sex abuse case. Because his competency was being questioned, the sentencing in his murder trial was put on hold.
Prosecutor Chad Grunander explained, "The reason why these cases are tied in some degree because of the competency is because you cannot be competent in one case and incompetent in another at the same time. Every defendant has a right to competently direct his or her defense."
Now that MacNeill was found competent, both cases can move forward. That's good news for MacNeill's daughter Alexis Somers. Somers was the state's key witness in the murder trial and has been to several hearings while she waited to for doctors to say what she already knew - that her father was sane enough to stand trial.
Somers told ABC 4 Utah, "This happened almost seven years ago so there's been delay, after delay, after delay and I think Judge McVey sees through some of Randy's stunts."
Randy Spencer is MacNeill's defense attorney who has seemingly been trying just about everything to delay the trial. Much to Judge McVey's dismay Spencer told the court Monday he planned on making several motions to dismiss the trial.
Spencer claims to have new evidence that the state withheld some evidence and that they lost an audio recording with the victim.
While Judge McVey was very skeptical of Spencer's pending requests he ruled the defense has 20 days to get all of the motions filed.
A trial date in the sex abuse case was set for July 2nd and 3rd.
A phone conference was scheduled for Tuesday, May 6th to decide how to move forward with the MacNeill murder trial.
Grunander told ABC 4 Utah that he expects the judge to lift the stay in the homicide case and set an oral argument date for the pending motion by Spencer to dismiss that case.
He says he understands that the family is frustrated with the delay, but feels confident the state's case will prevail.
"It's frustrating, I think the jury came back in early November so it's been a while," said Grunander. "It's also been frustrating for the family because it took years to investigate so I certainly understand where they're coming from although I think they want us to get it right, they want the system to get it right no one wants to do this over again."
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