Jun 30, 9:01 PM EDT

Judge to rule in 60 days on request for new trial from doctor convicted in wife's death

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AP Photo/Al Hartmann

PROVO, Utah (AP) -- A state judge plans to rule in the next 60 days on a request for a new trial from a Utah doctor convicted of murdering his wife.

Attorneys for Martin MacNeill argued in court Monday that the doctor's murder conviction should be thrown out and the case should be dismissed entirely.

Defense attorney Randy Spencer said prosecutors with the Utah County attorney's office failed to disclose a deal made with MacNeill's cellmates who implicated the doctor during his trial.

MacNeill, 58, was convicted in November of over-medicating his wife Michele after a face-lift and leaving her to die in a bathtub in April 2007.

He has not been sentenced yet on the charges of murder and obstruction of justice because his attorneys have been fighting the conviction.

An inmate who testified that MacNeill described killing his wife was key to the conviction, Spencer argued, but prosecutors did not disclose that an investigator in their office agreed to write a letter on the inmate's behalf.

Deputy Utah County Attorney Chad Grunander said Monday that while the specific deal wasn't disclosed, prosecutors stated several times during the four-week trial that inmates who agreed to testify were told they'd get letters of recommendation, the Deseret News reported ( http://bit.ly/V4z9Vl ).

"We did not know his attorney had asked for a letter, but I don't think it makes a bit of difference," Grunander said of the inmate. "The arguments defense counsel is making would have no effect on the outcome here."

In addition to asking for the conviction to be thrown out, Spencer argued that MacNeill's case should be thrown out rather than re-tried. Another trial would violate MacNeill's constitutional protection against double jeopardy, Spencer argued.

Grunander argued that double jeopardy would only apply if prosecutors had intentionally acted in bad faith.

After hearing arguments Monday, 4th District Judge Derek Pullan said he needed time to consider the arguments would make a decision sometime in the next 60 days.

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Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com

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