Utah's Chief Medical Examiner testifies why he changed Michele MacNeill's cause of death

By Kimberly Nelson

Published 10/31 2013 05:47PM

Updated 11/12 2013 04:38PM

PROVO, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - There has been a lot of talk and testimony over motive, but Thursday the jury in the Martin MacNeill murder trial finally got to hear about how Michele may have died.

Doctor Todd Grey is the second medical examiner to take a look at Michele MacNeill’s autopsy report. The doctor who originally did the autopsy passed away in 2008, so when the investigation into Michele’s death began Doctor Grey was asked to take a second look at the findings and what he found was a different cause of death.

Michele MacNeill’s autopsy was done April 12th 2007 one day after she was found slumped over her bathtub.

Dr. Grey testified, "Dr. Frikke certified that Michele died as a result of cardio vascular disease, with hypertension or high blood pressure and myocarditis or inflammation of the heart."

Dr. Grey explained how he looked Frikke’s report with the new information that was gathered through the investigation and found that the manner and cause of death should be changed.

“I amended the cause of death in this case and added, in addition to cardiovascular disease, the possibility that blood toxicity may have played a role as well,” testified Dr. Grey.

The toxicology report showed Michele had oxymoron, valium, the ant-nausea drug promethazine and ambien in her system when she died; the majority of which are all central nervous system depressants.

The prosecution asked Dr. Grey hypothetically, "If you were to learn that the defendant here had told somebody or others that he had drugged up Michele MacNeill and convinced her to get into the tub and held her down for a little bit and it caused her death, would that scenario be consistent with how Michele MacNeill died?”

Dr. Grey answered, “Yes, certainly it's possible."

But just because that is possible doesn't necessarily mean it happened. Dr. Grey classified Michele’s manner of death as undetermined.

He testified, "I didn't feel I had enough to justify a certification of homicide."

The jury asked the question why Dr. Grey couldn't diagnose the cause of Michele’s death as drowning. He explained that while the autopsy reports did show her lungs were heavy, about twice the weight of normal lungs, meaning there could be fluid or blood in the lung. Dr. Grey explained that's not uncommon in cases of prolonged resuscitation; something that was definitely done to Michele if not by martin certainly by first responders and crews at the emergency room.

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