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Trial begins for prominent Utah doctor accused of killing wife

By Derek P. Jensen

SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - Jury selection began on Tuesday in the murder trial of a prominent Utah doctor accused of killing his wife with a cocktail of drugs so he could continue an extramarital affair.

Martin MacNeill, 57, urged his wife to get a facelift then arranged for her to receive a deadly mix of prescription drugs while she recovered, so he could be with his alleged lover Gypsy Willis, according to a lengthy arrest affidavit.

On April 11, 2007, Michele MacNeill was found fully clothed but unresponsive in a bathtub by the couple's 6-year-old daughter in their home about 35 miles south of Salt Lake City.

The 50-year-old mother of eight was pronounced dead later that day. After an autopsy in 2007, a medical examiner ruled the death was natural, a result of "chronic hypertension and myocarditis," court documents show.

Three years later, a second look at Michele MacNeill's toxicology report - at her children's request - prompted the chief medical examiner to change the cause of death to the combined effects of heart disease and drug toxicity. The manner of death was then changed to "undetermined."

The Utah County attorney's office launched its investigation in 2008. MacNeill was charged with first-degree felony murder and second-degree felony obstruction of justice in 2012. He denies the charges.

Following Michele MacNeill's death, MacNeill named the alleged mistress Willis as his beneficiary. If convicted, MacNeill could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Testimony in the trial is expected to begin Thursday.

(Editing by Tim Gaynor and Stacey Joyce)

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