Utah doctor gets up to life in wife's murder

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Utah doctor gets up to life in wife's murder
Martin MacNeill listens as he is sentenced by Judge Samuel D. McVey in Fourth District Court, Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, in Provo, Utah. The Utah doctor convicted of killing his wife was sentenced to one to 15 years in prison in a separate sexual abuse case. (AP Photo/Deseret News, Tom Smart, Pool)
Martin MacNeill enters the courtroom before his sentencing Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, in Provo, Utah. MacNeill, a Utah doctor convicted of killing his wife in a trial that became a national true-crime cable TV obsession has been sentenced to 17 years to life in prison. MacNeill was found guilty of giving his wife drugs prescribed after cosmetic surgery and leaving her to drown in the bathtub of their home in 2007 so he could begin a new life with his mistress. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
From left, Linda Cluff, sister of Michelle MacNeill, Alexis MacNeill Somers and Rachael MacNeill, listen as their father (and former brother-in-law) Martin MacNeill is sentenced in a forcible sex abuse case by Judge Samuel D. McVey in Fourth District Court, Monday, Sept. 15, 2014, in Provo, Utah. The Utah doctor convicted of killing his wife was sentenced to one to 15 years in prison in a separate sexual abuse case. (AP Photo/Deseret News, Tom Smart, Pool)
Defense attorney Randy Spencer, center, speaks with Martin MacNeill as he is removed from the courtroom following his sentencing Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, in Provo, Utah. MacNeill, a Utah doctor convicted of killing his wife, has been sentenced to 17 years to life in prison. MacNeill was found guilty of giving his wife drugs prescribed after cosmetic surgery and leaving her to drown in the bathtub of their home in 2007 so he could begin a new life with his mistress. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Linda Cluff, sister of Michelle MacNeill, speaks to Martin MacNeill during his sentencing Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, in Provo, Utah. MacNeill, a Utah doctor convicted of killing his wife, has been sentenced to 17 years to life in prison. MacNeill was found guilty of giving his wife drugs prescribed after cosmetic surgery and leaving her to drown in the bathtub of their home in 2007 so he could begin a new life with his mistress. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Martin MacNeill's daughter Rachel MacNeill stares at him after speaking during his sentencing Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, in Provo, Utah. MacNeill, a Utah doctor convicted of killing his wife, has been sentenced to 17 years to life in prison. MacNeill was found guilty of giving his wife drugs prescribed after cosmetic surgery and leaving her to drown in the bathtub of their home in 2007 so he could begin a new life with his mistress. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Martin MacNeill's daughter Alexis Somers, left, receives a hug from her aunt, Susan Hare following the Martin MacNeill sentencing Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, in Provo, Utah. MacNeill, a Utah doctor convicted of killing his wife, has been sentenced to 17 years to life in prison. MacNeill was found guilty of giving his wife drugs prescribed after cosmetic surgery and leaving her to drown in the bathtub of their home in 2007 so he could begin a new life with his mistress. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Martin MacNeill's daughter Alexis Somers wipes a tear from her face after speaking to the court during her father's sentencing Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, in Provo, Utah. MacNeill, a Utah doctor convicted of killing his wife, was sentenced to 17 years to life in prison. MacNeill was found guilty of giving his wife drugs prescribed after cosmetic surgery and leaving her to drown in the bathtub of their home in 2007 so he could begin a new life with his mistress. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Defense lawyer Randy Spencer left, talks to his client, Martin MacNeill, at the conclusion of his three week murder trial in Provo, Utah, 4th District Court on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013. MacNeill is charged with murder for allegedly killing his wife, Michele MacNeill, in 2007. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Al Hartmann, Pool)
Defense lawyer Randy Spencer gives closing arguments before jury on the final day of the murder trial for Pleasant Grove physician Martin MacNeill in Provo, Utah, 4th District Court on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013. MacNeill is charged with murder for allegedly killing his wife, Michele MacNeill, in 2007. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Al Hartmann, Pool)
Ergonomics expert Brett Besser testifies at Martin MacNeill's murder trial in 4th District Court in Provo, Utah, Thursday Nov. 7, 2013. He testified about the stress to lower back and difficulty in lifting a heavy weight from a bathtub. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Al Hartmann, Pool)
Alexis Somers, right, her sister Rachel MacNeill, upper right, and family members rise for the jury to take their place for closing arguments on the final day of the murder trial for Martin MacNeill in Provo, Utah, 4th District Court on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013. MacNeill is charged with murder for allegedly killing his wife, Michele MacNeill, in 2007. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Al Hartmann, Pool)
Defense lawyer Randy Spencer gives closing arguments before jury on the final day of the murder trial for Pleasant Grove physician Martin MacNeill in Provo, Utah, 4th District Court on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013. MacNeill is charged with murder for allegedly killing his wife, Michele MacNeill, in 2007. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Al Hartmann, Pool)
Utah County Prosecutor Chad Grunader points towards defendant Martin MacNeill as he gives closing arguments before the jury on the final day of the murder trial for MacNeill in Provo, Utah, 4th District Court on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013. MacNeill is charged with murder for allegedly killing his wife, Michele MacNeill, in 2007. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Al Hartmann, Pool)
Martin MacNeill arrives for closing arguments on the final day of his murder trial in Provo, Utah, 4th District Court on Friday, Nov. 8, 2013. MacNeill is charged with murder for allegedly killing his wife, Michele MacNeill, in 2007. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Al Hartmann, Pool)
Judge Derek Pullan presides over the trial of Martin MacNeill at the Fourth District Court in Provo Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. MacNeill is charged with murder for allegedly killing his wife Michele MacNeill in 2007. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Mark Johnston, Pool)
FILE - In this Aug. 27, 2012 file photo, family members hold up photos of Michele MacNeill facing Martin MacNeill as he enters the court room in Provo, Utah. Utah prosecution are trying to persuade jurors in Provo that MacNeill knocked out his wife with painkillers and other drugs after insisting that she get a face-lift, then left her to die in a bathtub in 2007. The death of Michele MacNeill, who raised eight children, shocked the Mormon community of Pleasant Grove, about 35 miles south of Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/The Deseret News, Scott G Winterton, Pool, File)
Martin MacNeill speaks to his attorney Randy Spencer, left, before proceedings at the Fourth District Court in Provo Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. MacNeill is charged with murder for allegedly killing his wife Michele MacNeill in 2007. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Mark Johnston, Pool)
Martin MacNeill rubs his eyes during his trial at the Fourth District Court in Provo Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013. MacNeill is charged with murder for allegedly killing his wife Michele MacNeill in 2007. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Mark Johnston, Pool)
Vanessa MacNeill testifies at the trial of her father Martin MacNeill at the Fourth District Court in Provo Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. Martin MacNeill is charged with murder for allegedly killing his wife Michele MacNeill in 2007. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Mark Johnston, Pool)
Alexis Somers, daughter of Martin MacNeill, testifies in his trial in 4th District Court in Provo, Utah, Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013. MacNeill is charged with murder in the death of his wife, Michele MacNeill, in 2007. (AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Al Hartmann,pool )
Vanessa MacNeill, second from left, receives a hug after testifying at her father Martin MacNeill's trial at the Fourth District Court in Provo Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. Martin MacNeill is charged with murder for allegedly killing his wife Michele MacNeill in 2007. (AP Photo/Daily Herald, Mark Johnston, Pool)
Sabrina MacNeill testifies at the trial of her adoptive father Martin MacNeill at the Fourth District Court in Provo Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. Martin MacNeill is charged with murder for allegedly killing his wife Michele MacNeill in 2007. MARK JOHNSTON/Daily Herald
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By LINDSAY WHITEHURST

PROVO, Utah (AP) -- A Utah doctor found guilty of killing his wife in a trial that became a national true-crime cable TV obsession will serve 17 years to life in prison, a state judge decided Friday.

The long-awaited sentence comes seven years after prosecutors say Martin MacNeill knocked out his wife with drugs prescribed following cosmetic surgery and left her to die in a bathtub so he could begin a new life with his mistress.

MacNeill, 58, was sentenced to at least 15 years and up to life in prison on a murder charge, plus one to 15 years on an obstruction of justice charge. A third sentence in a separate sexual abuse case will add another one to 15 years.

Judge Derek Pullan ruled Friday the sentences will run one after the other. The Utah parole board will decide later whether MacNeill can be released after 17 years or must serve a longer term.

The one-time doctor and lawyer with a family of eight did not address the court during the sentencing. He appeared gaunt, with gray hair and glasses.

"My father's facade has now crumbled. My father is a monster. He has never shown remorse for any of his crimes. He must be held accountable for his actions," said his daughter, Alexis Somers.

Michele MacNeill initially was ruled to have died of natural causes, possibly heart disease, but her family hounded authorities until charges were filed five years after her death.

"He thought nothing more of her than something to throw away and get rid of," said her sister, Linda Cluff, who said she thinks of her sister dying at her husband's hands and wonders whether she cried out for help.

Pullan cited the careful planning of the crime as he handed down the maximum sentence.

"Mr. MacNeill, as you deprived Michele MacNeill of her life, the state of Utah exacts from you today the liberty you might have enjoyed in your remaining years," Pullan said.

The case against Martin MacNeill shocked the Mormon community of Pleasant Grove, about 35 miles south of Salt Lake City.

Martin MacNeill has maintained his innocence. His attorney argued at trial that Michele MacNeill had a heart attack and fell into the tub, and has said an appeal is likely.

Prosecutors conceded the largely circumstantial case wasn't an easy one. Prosecutor Chad Grunander said the trail had gone cold by the time he came onto the case in 2010, and the judge excluded some evidence of the contention roiling under the family's picture-perfect exterior.

"You have a doctor and lawyer, beautiful wife, beautiful children, well-educated, successful people, and this happens in the background. It is shocking to some degree, certainly," Grunander said.

Last year's three-week trial peeled back that facade with testimony from jailhouse snitches and Martin MacNeill's former mistress, Gypsy Willis.

Martin MacNeill introduced her as a nanny within weeks of his wife's death, but his older daughters said they quickly recognized the woman as his secret lover and the subject of arguments between their parents.

Prosecutors said Martin MacNeill insisted his 50-year-old wife get a face-lift and faked his own medical condition to throw off suspicion in the weeks before her death. They pointed to erratic behavior and what they called phony grief the day she died.

Another daughter, Rachel MacNeill, said her father cut ties with remaining family after her mother's death.

Prosecutors also introduced testimony from former MacNeill cellmates who said he confessed to his wife's death. Spencer said the jailhouse snitches lied and MacNeill should get a new trial, but the judge denied that motion late last month.

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