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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended April 09, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 13Apr00

Summarized by Kent Larsen

Former LDS Missionary Found Guilty Of Death Of Wife
(Fremont Man Found Guilty in Death of Wife)
San Francisco Chronicle pgA19 7Apr00 D2
By Henry K. Lee: Chronicle Staff Writer;

FREMONT, CALIFORNIA -- Former LDS missionary Dan Mackay, 44, was found guilty Thursday, April 6th of voluntary manslaughter in the death of his wife. Mackay could face up to 12 years in prison at his July 21st sentencing hearing before Alameda County Superior Court Judge Leo Dorado. The four-woman, eight-man jury took less than three days to find him guilty of manslaughter instead of murder, which could have led to a life sentence.

Prosecutors told the jury that Mackay crushed his wife's skull with a baseball bat before dumping her body in a ravine in 1998. Mackay's attorney's had argued during the monthlong trial that the killing was not premeditated, but a crime of passion. Mackay's marriage of 20 years to Debby Mackay was failing, and the couple had filed for divorce.

In the trial, unflattering details of the couple's marriage were introduced as evidence, including the defense's claim that Debby Mackay's breast implant surgery, appetite-reduction operation and use of a diet drug prompted extra-marital affairs, leaving Mackay's life miserable and enraged, and led him to an affair with a Texas woman he met on the Internet.

The verdict left Debby Mackay's parents angry and dismayed at what they call character assassination of their daughter. "He got away with murder, and now he has to live with himself," Charlene Whitehead, 61, the victim's mother, said from her home near Salt Lake City. "Debby was loved by everyone. She was a beautiful person made to look like a tramp in that trial."

Mackay's lawyer, Penny Cooper, calls the events the tragic result of Debby Mackay's affairs, "It's a tragedy, but I think, under those circumstances, it was clear he was operating in the heat of passion and just lost it, basically," Cooper said. "I really think justice was served." But prosecutor Paul Pinney says that Mackay's actions after the attack were consistent with a planned murder, "I think the evidence was there for some type of murder," Pinney said. "Naturally, I'm disappointed, but I hope this brings some closure to both families."


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