PROVO, Utah - A verdict is in. The jury in the Martin MacNeil sex abuse trial have found Martin MacNeill guilty of second-degree felony sexual abuse. The jury deliberated about two and a half hours Thursday.
Closing arguments wrapped up around 4:15 Thursday afternoon. Martin MacNeill has already been convicted of killing his wife Michele, now he faces prison time for inappropriately touching his adult daughter Alexis Somers.
Alexis once again took the stand Thursday and testified that on May 23rd, 2007, just over a month after Michele MacNeill died, she went to Martin MacNeill's home to help clean up some of Michele's belongings. It got late and the alleged victim says MacNeill suggested that she go to sleep on the master bed and he would sleep on the couch.
On Wednesday she testified that she woke up suddenly to find Martin MacNeill with his hands down her pants. "I could feel [MacNeill’s] hand rubbing my buttocks," she testified. "He had one of my hands, my left hand, and he was licking it and kissing it."
Somers testified the incident only lasted a couple of seconds; that she slapped his hand away and asked him what he was doing. "I just said, ‘What are you doing? He just said, ‘Oh, oh I’m sorry, I’m sorry,’ " she said. "He said, I thought you were [Michele.]"
Much like Martin MacNeill's murder trial, his defense lawyer Randy Spencer attempted to impeach both Alexis Somers and her sister Rachel using their testimony they gave during the preliminary trial in 2008.
Spencer asked Alexis why when she was forcibly removed from the MacNeill home by police in 2007 didn't she tell them then that she had been sexually abused by her father. Somers testified at the time the abuse occurred she already believed Martin MacNeill killed his wife Michele. She said she wanted to stay to make sure the younger children in the house were safe.
"If I accused my father I knew he wouldn't let me have them," said Somers. "I was feeling panic, horror, fear that my sisters weren't safe, that they were in a home with someone who just murdered my mother."
When Spencer asked Rachel why in several emails, one to her sister and another to her teacher, where she talks about trouble in the MacNeill home didn't she mention the alleged abuse Alexis faced at the hands of her father. On the stand, Rachel replied, "I don't mention my mother being murdered, but that happened too!"
Spencer made the case that the girls had motive to falsely accuse their father. In an email Rachel sent to one of her friends it said, "I'm just praying my dad does something we can get him on."
In closing arguments Spencer told the jury there is "reasonable doubt" in this case. He asked them to consider the conflicting statements Alexis made; at the preliminary hearing in 2008 she said her father touched her "thigh and private area" but in 2014 she testified it was her buttocks. Spencer asked the jury, "Wouldn't a first year medical student know the difference between private parts and the buttocks?"
He also asked the jury to consider whether it was reasonable for Alexis to go on vacation to Cancun if she was so worried about her younger siblings in the MacNeill home.
After the verdict was read MacNeill's defense lawyer Randy Spencer told ABC 4 Utah, "Of course it's very disappointing. Not terribly surprised, the way he's been treated in the judicial system." He continued, "You heard my opinion in closing argument there was lots of reasonable doubt in this case. So whether somebody thinks that he committed the offense or not, this is a case where there was reasonable doubt. He should have been found not guilty in my opinion."
Spencer says there will be an appeal filed.
Alexis Somers said she was, "Relieved. It was the right verdict. He's a sexual predator and there's some justice." She continued, "They did a great job and the jury once again saw the truth."
MacNeill faces Asdup to 15 years in prison. He's expected to be sentenced on August 25th.
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