Martin MacNeill's attorneys want mistrial and double jeopardy protection

By Kimberly Nelson

Published 06/30 2014 05:23PM

Updated 07/02 2014 04:18PM

PROVO, Utah (ABC 4Utah) - Convicted killer Martin MacNeill was back in a Provo courtroom Monday. MacNeill was found guilty of killing is wife in April of 2007, but now his attorneys are arguing for a new trial. His defense team claims the prosecution was not truthful when it came to benefits given to federal inmates in exchange for their testimony.

Martin MacNeill’s attorneys have many reasons why they believe a mistrial should be declared.

Defense Attorney Randy Spencer told ABC 4 News, “We believe this case was entirely circumstantial."

Not only that the evidence was circumstantial, but that not all of it was disclosed. The defense claims the state failed to disclose what kind of deals or benefits would be given to inmates in exchange for their testimony, and that prosecutors lied when they told the judge, and later the jury, that nothing had been given to inmate #1 and that there were no promises outstanding.

During the trial inmate #1 testified that MacNeill confessed to him that he drugged his wife Michelle and then drowned her in a bathtub in their home on April 11th 2007. It turns out his attorney had asked the investigator in the case for a letter of recommendation which could be used to reduce his federal sentence. 

Spencer said, “Had this information been disclosed to us I believe the result would have been different. Inmate #1 was the only person who had any testimony about what allegedly happened April 11th leading to Michelle MacNeill’s death."

Even Fourth District Court Judge Derek Pullan agreed that it appeared the prosecution failed to disclose the federal inmate's request. “This seems to me a clear error of the prosecution, and it's the whole reason why I issued the order was to get this all out on the table,” said Pullan.

The prosecution claims they didn't know inmate #1's attorney had asked for a letter of recommendation, but that it shouldn't matter because they always said they'd write one if asked.

"It came out in the trial that he was hoping to benefit in some respect,” said Lead Prosecutor Chad Grunander. “It came out in trail that if he asked for a letter he would get a letter. That all came before the jury, so the fact that his attorney had asked for a letter, big deal."

The defense thinks it's a big enough deal to get the trial thrown out, and with it any possibility for Martin MacNeill to be tried for Michelle MacNeill’s death ever again. They're seeking double jeopardy protection, but both the prosecution and MacNeill’s daughter believe that will never happen.

Alexis Somers told ABC 4 Utah, “I believe we had a very fair jury trial and they found him guilty and he is guilty. He's a murderer and he murdered my mother."

It’s now up to the judge to decide if this new information would have changed the outcome of the trial. A decision is expected in 60 days. In the meantime, MacNeill and his lawyers will be back in court Wednesday for the start of his sex abuse trial.

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