- Associated Press - Monday, May 5, 2014

PROVO, Utah (AP) - A judge ruled Monday that a Utah doctor who has been convicted of killing his wife is competent to stand trial in a separate sexual abuse case.

Fourth District Judge Samuel McVey ordered Martin MacNeill to stand trial on one count of forcible sexual abuse.

MacNeill was convicted of murder in November after authorities said he over-medicated his wife Michele MacNeill and left her to die in a bathtub.

Prosecutors say the sexual assault of a woman came a month later in May 2007. The Associated Press doesn’t normally identify alleged victims of sexual crimes.

Defense attorney Randall Spencer is working to overturn MacNeill’s murder conviction, arguing it was based on perjured testimony.

On Monday, he told The Associated Press that officials destroyed evidence when they taped over a police interview with the woman in the sexual assault case. He contends such evidence pertains to both the killing and sex abuse cases.

“I think this is a real loss to the defense to not have this record,” he said in a telephone interview.

MacNeill has argued in court documents that his cellmates lied when they testified that he confessed the killing to them.

Martin MacNeill has maintained his innocence in the killing. In December, court documents show, he left a suicide note and slit a major leg artery with a disposable razor. Utah County jail officials intervened to save his life.

An earlier doctor’s review determined that he is competent to stand trial in the sexual assault. The hearing on Monday before McVey revealed that a second doctor reached the same conclusion.

Prosecutors had said they wanted a second assessment before they proceeded to trial.

Authorities said Martin MacNeill gave his wife drugs prescribed after cosmetic surgery then left her to drown in the bathtub so he could start a new life with his mistress. His attorneys said she could have died of natural causes.

MacNeill could face 15 years to life in prison on charges of murder and obstruction of justice when he is sentenced. Prosecutors have said they are confident the November conviction will stand.

His daughter Alexis Somers said she expected the competency ruling but added that the postponement of hearings has been frustrating.

“This has been delay after delay,” she said.

After the latest competency ruling, the court can move forward with sentencing on the murder conviction, said Deputy Utah County Attorney Jared Perkins.

Trial in the sex abuse case is set to begin on July 2.

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