Utah doc's attys ask for mistrial in murder case

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.

AP Photo/The Salt Lake Tribune, Al Hartmann

SALT LAKE CITY - The attorneys for a Utah doctor convicted of killing his wife are requesting a mistrial because they say a key witness was given a deal for his testimony, reports CBS affiliate KUTV.

Martin MacNeill, 57, was convicted of murder and obstruction of justice in November. Prosecutors say he convinced his wife to have a face-lift, prescribed her heavy medication after the procedure, then drugged her and drowned her in the bathtub of their home on April 11, 2007.

MacNeill was scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 7, but this new motion may delay that sentencing.

According to KUTV, MacNeill’s attorneys say that the prosecution’s main witness, known as “Inmate #1,” testified that while they shared a cell, MacNeill confessed to killing his wife:"He said he gave her some oxy and gave her some sleeping pills and got her in the bath tub," said Inmate #1. "He held her head under water for a little while."

The witness testified that he did not receive a deal from prosecutors in exchange for his testimony, but according to MacNeill’s attorneys, the witness was recently released from federal prison.

"He was supposed to be released in January 2016.  And on the stand he said I don't expect to get out until 2016," said attorney Suzanne Gustin.  "And he's out right now."

KUTV reports that Utah County prosecutor Chad Grunander says he is “confident” the conviction will hold, and that the fact that the witness was released early does not indicate a deal.

"There was no deal before hand," said Utah County prosecutor Chad Grunander.  "Absolutely not…We have no ability to control the federal government in what they do [in releasing inmates]."