The Salt Lake Tribune, Trent Nelson / AP
Friday, Nov. 1, 2013 | 1:47 p.m.
SALT LAKE CITY — A cardiologist testified Friday that the wife of a doctor charged with killing her wasn't at risk of a heart attack, refuting a defense theory on her cause of death.
Utah cardiologist David Cragun said 50-year-old Michele MacNeill had a mild form of heart disease that wouldn't have killed her.
Defense lawyers have argued that MacNeill had a heart attack and died after falling into a bathtub in 2007.
The testimony came during the murder trial of Martin MacNeill, 57, a former doctor who prosecutors say hounded his wife to get cosmetic surgery then knocked her out with painkillers, Valium and sleeping pills before leaving her to die in the tub.
On Thursday, Utah medical examiner Todd Grey testified that he could not determine her exact cause of death but said it could have come from a heart attack combined with drug toxicity.
Prosecutors called Cragun and another expert to suggest Michele MacNeill's death must have involved foul play.
"My opinion is that Michele died as a result of drowning," testified Joshua Perper, a forensic pathologist from Florida.
Anna Walthall, a mistress of Martin MacNeill, previously testified that he once described over "pillow talk" how he could induce a heart attack in someone that would appear natural.
One of Grey's subordinates initially ruled that Michele MacNeill's 2007 death was natural from heart disease, and that she had high blood pressure and was developing myocarditis, or inflamed heart tissue that could have interfered with a normal heart rate or rhythm.
Investigative findings prompted Grey to change the autopsy finding to undetermined — and to add that drug toxicity may have played a role. That opened the way for the murder charge against Martin MacNeill.