Friday, October 25, 2013 6:21 pm
Doctor's mistress testifies at murder trial
By PAUL FOYAssociated Press
Gypsy Willis said Martin MacNeill put her up in a duplex, gave her a debit card for expenses, and helped pay for her schooling as a nursing student.
Willis, 37, insisted the relationship with a man 20 years older was mostly casual and is over. Prosecutors have argued it was his motive for killing his wife in 2007. Michele MacNeill was found in a bathtub in her home.
Willis said she met MacNeill online by trading messages and was soon getting together with him at random times.
"We had sex half the time," Willis said. "Sometimes, it was just lunch."
Her testimony was interrupted when the judge called a break in the trial for a long weekend. She'll return to the stand Tuesday.
Willis is testifying under a deal with prosecutors on identity-theft charges that kept her out of jail. She was accused of taking the identity of one of MacNeill's adopted daughters.
The doctor invited Willis to his wife's funeral, hired her as a nanny and asked her to marry him weeks later, at her parent's house in Wyoming. It isn't clear if they ever got a marriage certificate. Willis' parents are set to testify next week.
Willis said she traded about 22 text messages with MacNeill on the day of the funeral, including several during the service.
MacNeill, 57, is accused of hounding his wife, Michele MacNeill, to have a face-lift, then mixing a lethal combination of drugs for her recovery and helping her into the tub.
Defense attorneys counter that she died from a heart condition. MacNeill has said he found her slumped face-down in bath water.
Earlier Friday, 4th District Judge Derek Pullan ruled that MacNeill's youngest daughter will be allowed to offer limited courtroom testimony about how she found her mother's body submerged in the tub. Pullan said many of the girl's memories were tainted by an older sister who strongly believes Martin MacNeill killed his wife.
Pullan ruled 12-year-old Ada MacNeill can be questioned only about statements she gave a professional counselor several years ago. The girl was 6 years old when she found her mom in the tub.
"Ada is highly susceptible to suggestion by Alexis (MacNeill) and has been influenced by adults in her life who are biased" and serve as her caretakers, Pullan said from the bench. The jury was not present for his ruling.
A forensic toxicologist took the stand first Friday, saying Michele MacNeill's blood had four central nervous system depressants in it that would have had a powerful knock-out effect because she wasn't used to taking any of them - she was "drug-naive," said Gary Dawson, the witness.
On Thursday, Alexis and another sibling testified their father was eager to demonstrate how their mother ended up dead in the tub, and about how quickly he introduced a nanny who, according to the sisters, didn't cook, clean or take care of the youngest children in the family of eight.
The oldest sibling, Rachel MacNeill, said while growing up, her father was her best friend and that she was closer to him than to her mother. When she learned of her mother's death, she didn't suspect her father and wanted to comfort him, she said.
But her suspicions quickly grew at a family lunch after their mother's funeral that turned sour.
Her father was "commenting on how he's a single man now, and he kept it very casual," Rachel MacNeill said. "He was making jokes about being single, and he was laughing. It made me sick. I left."