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Utah doctor Martin MacNeill likely to appeal life sentence for wife's murder

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Michele MacNeill may have been killed by a powerful combination of pain killers, followed by having her head held underwater until she stopped breathing. The 50-year-old woman was found by her six-year-old daughter, as the mother laid dead in the household bathtub.

Martin MacNeill, a doctor from Utah convicted of murdering his wife, is likely to appeal his sentence of 15 years to life in jail for the crime.

The murder took place in 2007, in the home located 35 miles south of Salt Lake City. During the trial, Martin MacNeill's daughter, Alexis Somers, asked the judge to hand down the maximum possible sentence in the case.

"My father is a monster. He has never shown remorse for any of his crimes. He must be held accountable for his actions," Somers told the court.

Sisters and adult daughters of the victim have spent seven years pursuing a case against Martin MacNeill. In November 2013, the defendant was found guilty of first-degree murder and second-degree obstruction of justice. On Sept. 19, Derek Pullan, a judge in Provo, handed down a sentence in the case against the 58-year-old former physician and attorney.

"Today we are able to finally be free from this," Rachel MacNeill, one of the elder daughters of the victim, told reporters.

The defendant made no statements to either the court or his children during sentencing.

One of three medical examiners stated with certainty she died from drowning. None of the examiners declared, without doubt, that the woman was murdered.

The deceased woman had undergone plastic surgery in the week before her death. Prosecuters contended during the case that Martin pressured his wife to have the operation, and obtained anti-anxiety medications, sleeping pills and powerful pain killers from the victim's doctor. These medicines were flushed down the toilet a few hours after the death of the woman, according to the prosecution team.

In addition to a sentence of 15 years to life for the murder conviction, Pullan also handed down sentences for one to 15 years in prison for obstruction of justice and an unrelated charge of sexual assault. The terms must be served successively, according to the ruling. After 17 years, a parole board will decide if MacNeill will be released from jail or held for a longer term.

The death of Michele MacNeill was originally ruled to be due to natural causes, and it was not until five years later that charges were filed against her husband.

Martin MacNeill may have murdered his wife in order to be with his mistress, Gypsy Willis, a nursing student 20 years younger than him, according to the state.

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