Preliminary hearing starts for man accused of killing his wife

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PROVO, Utah - A prominent Utah doctor charged with his wife's murder was back in court Wednesday.

Dr. Martin MacNeill is accused in an elaborate murder plot to kill his wife Michelle in 2007, but he has not been charged until recently.

Wednesday was the first day of his preliminary hearing.

Prosecutors believe MacNeill gave his wife a lethal dose of pain killers while she was home recovering from plastic surgery back in April 2007.

The state called two witnesses during the morning session.

"We're just going to run through each of the witnesses that we think are necessary to establish probable cause from a chronological stand point, an evidentiary stand point, and then we will probably conclude with more of our expert doctor type analysis," said Sam Pead, Utah County deputy attorney.

The first was a doctor who treated Michelle before her surgery. He said he wanted her to postpone the surgery until she could get her blood pressure under control. The doctor said MacNeill was anxious that she get the surgery.

A second doctor, who performed the plastic surgery, testified that before the surgery, MacNeill asked for a strong pain medication as he was concerned about Michelle's anxiety. The doctor said he did write a prescription for the higher dose.

After the surgery, the doctor said Michelle was recovering well and was being weaned off of the pain medications.

"They've only had two witnesses on, so it's really just basically their observations," said Susanne Gustin, MacNeill's attorney.

MacNeill's daughter, who was 6 when she found her mother unconscious in the bath tub, is expected to take the witness stand.

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