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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 11:48 am

Doctor's mistress returns to stand in murder trial

By PAUL FOYAssociated Press

The mistress of a Utah doctor is back at his murder trial as prosecutors try to prove she was Martin MacNeill's motive for leaving his heavily drugged wife to die in a bathtub.

Gypsy Willis told jurors Tuesday she received a marriage proposal and $7,000 diamond ring from the doctor months after Michele Martin's 2007 death.

The judge allowed prosecutors to question Willis aggressively as a hostile witness after they argued she was trying to protect the doctor with less than truthful answers.

MacNeill is accused of hounding his wife, Michele, to get a face-lift, then administering a lethal combination of drugs for her recovery and helping her into a tub of water.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

The mistress of a Utah doctor was due back at his murder trial Tuesday as prosecutors try to prove she was Martin MacNeill's motive for leaving his heavily drugged wife to die in a bathtub.

Prosecutors say they will press Gypsy Willis on what she knows about Michele MacNeill's 2007 death. Willis traded text messages with the doctor 30 times that day, she acknowledged Friday before the trial broke for a long weekend.

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 to escape a debt-heavy credit history.

Willis said she had been having a sexual relationship with MacNeill for 15 months before his wife died. The doctor set her up in a duplex, gave her a debit card for expenses and helped pay for her schooling as a nursing student, she said.

"It was a very casual thing," Willis said Friday of the relationship. "Just when we had time and it could be arranged. We had sex half the time. Sometimes, it was just lunch."

When the trial broke Friday, she was being asked about her appearance at a family interview arranged by the doctor, who was looking for someone to care for his four youngest daughters.

"Was there any question you were going to be hired as a nanny?" prosecutor Chad Grunander asked.

Willis smiled before saying she understood she needed the approval of MacNeill's grown children. Two have already testified that they suspected she was a mistress and didn't want her in the house but that they were overruled by their father.

Prosecutors are trying to prove that Martin MacNeill hounded his wife to get a face-lift as a pretext for drugging her, then helped her into the tub.

A drug expert testified last week that Michele MacNeill had four nervous system depressants in her blood that would have had a powerful knockout effect. A cause of death was never established.

Defense lawyers argue she had a heart attack and fell into the tub.