Martin MacNeill Attempts Suicide After Convicted of Wife's Murder

12/06/2013 at 04:55 PM EST

Martin MacNeill Attempts Suicide After Convicted of Wife's Murder
Martin MacNeill in court
Al Hartmann/The Salt Lake Tribune/Getty
A defense attorney is crediting jailers with saving the life of a Utah doctor who tried to kill himself after he was recently convicted of murdering his wife.

Martin MacNeill was alone in his cell when he attempted suicide at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Because he was under close observation, jailers were able to respond quickly, MacNeill's lawyer, Randy Spencer, tells The Associated Press.

"It sounds like they saved his life, to their credit," Spencer said Friday.

MacNeill was rushed to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center with unspecified injuries. He was expected to be returned to Utah County Jail on Friday.

"We can't release details about [the suicide attempt], at this point," Sgt. Spencer Collins of the Utah County Sheriff's Office, said in a press release. "But we may later."

"Obviously, he was experiencing some emotional turmoil. He's post-conviction, but pre-sentence, and he's facing the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison. So in our mind, that creates a lot of emotional stress."

"Sometimes, people facing a sentencing like this question whether they should even exist. It's a very vulnerable time."

Added Collins: "He was not under direct observation 24/7, but there are regular checks that need to be done. They found him in the midst of the attempt to kill himself."

With reporting by CATHY FREE

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