PROVO, Utah — A former doctor accused of hounding his wife to get a face-lift so he could kill her with a lethal combination of prescription drugs acted erratically the day she died and claimed she had wanted the surgery, prosecutors said Thursday in opening statements at the murder trial.
In addition, Martin MacNeill told fellow inmates after his arrest that his wife was a "b----," he was glad she was dead; and authorities couldn't prove he killed her, prosecutor Sam Pead told jurors.
Prosecutors have said the killing was the climax of a twisted plot by MacNeill to carry on an affair with his mistress, who MacNeill invited to his wife's funeral and asked to marry him weeks later.
The case has shocked the Mormon community of Provo, 45 miles south of Salt Lake City, and captured national attention because the defendant was a doctor.
Pead depicted a scene of bizarre behavior that began when MacNeill discovered his listless wife in a bathtub and called authorities to his house in April 2007.
" 'Why did she have the surgery?' " Martin MacNeill yelled in front of police and paramedics, according to Pead. " 'Why did she take all of those medications? I told her not to do it. I'm a doctor. She's dead. I've been a bishop. I pay tithing, and this is the way you repay me?' "
MacNeill was referring to his former leadership position in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also had been clinical director at the Utah State Hospital but has surrendered his medical license.
Defense attorneys told jurors Michele MacNeill died from heart disease, not from anything Martin MacNeill had done.
MacNeill, 57, was charged in August 2012, nearly five years after his former beauty queen wife was found in the couple's Pleasant Grove home.
Prosecutors said they will try to prove MacNeill got a plastic surgeon to prescribe a powerful set of neurological drugs for her recovery.
The surgeon, Dr. Scott Thomson, testified Thursday that he would not normally prescribe Valium or Oxycodone, among other painkillers and sleeping pills, for recovery, but did so "because Martin was a physician and he asked me for these things."
Medical examiners couldn't determine how 50-year-old Michele MacNeill died. The uncertainty was one reason it took so long to prosecute Martin MacNeill on the murder charge.
The MacNeills had eight children, and their oldest daughters have been outspoken in their belief that their father killed their mother.
The trial before 4th District Court Judge Derek Pullan is expected to last six weeks.