Woman denies coaching sister about finding mom

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Associated Press

Posted on October 24, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 24 at 11:34 AM

PROVO, Utah (AP) — A woman testified Thursday that she did not coach her then 6-year-old sister about what to tell police in Utah after she found their mother in a bathtub.

The testimony from Alexis Somers, one of the oldest daughters of a former Utah doctor accused of murder, came during a special hearing held by the trial judge to determine if he'll allow Ada MacNeill, now 12, to take the witness stand.

The judge heard from Somers and other family members as he tried to determine if the young girl has her own independent memory of what happened when she was the first to find her mother unresponsive in the bathtub in 2007. Jurors were not present during the hearing.

Somers said the account by her father, Martin MacNeill — a former doctor — about finding his wife unresponsive in the tub conflicts with other eyewitness accounts.

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.

More testimony was expected Thursday from MacNeill's older daughter, Rachel MacNeill.

The trial is in its second week. It's expected to last at least one month.

On Wednesday, an emergency room doctor testified that MacNeill offered him $10,000 to keep trying to save his wife even though he was already working furiously to revive Michele MacNeill. Scott Vanwagoner called the comment "off-the-wall" and the oddest experience of his medical career. Other witnesses have testified that MacNeill was acting erratically at the house, too, as paramedics worked to revive her before taking her to the emergency room.

The 2007 death shocked the Mormon community of Pleasant Grove, about 35 miles south of Salt Lake City, because the suspect was a doctor and had been a church leader. MacNeill has since surrendered his medical license.

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