Gypsy Willis sentenced to 3 years of probation

2011-05-18T10:49:00Z 2012-08-28T06:18:06Z Gypsy Willis sentenced to 3 years of probationJim Dalrymple - Daily Herald Daily Herald
May 18, 2011 10:49 am  • 

PROVO -- A Pleasant Grove woman will spend the next three years on probation for stealing the identity of teenage girl.

Gypsy Willis, 34, was sentenced Tuesday to 36 months of probation for identity fraud and two counts of giving false and inconsistent statements, all second-degree felonies, and filing a wrongful lien, a third-degree felony. Willis pleaded guilty to the charges in March as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors.

In addition to probation, Willis also was sentenced to 180 days in jail, but was given credit for time served and will not actually have to spend additional time incarcerated. The judge also ordered her to pay fines and fees and to participate in a "cognitive restructuring" course. Prosecutor John Neilsen said that the course is designed to help those who commit crimes realize that their actions impact other people.

Yet another condition of Willis's probation is that she not have any contact with the MacNeill family, which includes the victim as well as Willis's former boyfriend, Pleasant Grove doctor Martin MacNeill.

According to prosecutors, Willis's charges were the result of efforts between MacNeill and Willis to alter Willis's identity. They reportedly tried to steal the identity of MacNeill's then 16-year-old adopted daughter, Giselle MacNeill, shortly after the death of MacNeill's wife, Michele, in 2007.

Willis agreed to her sentence when she entered her pleas. On Tuesday her lawyer, John Easton, pointed out that she had no criminal history other than federal charges related to the same incidents, had a low risk for re-offense, and had been compliant with the terms of her parole from federal prison.

But family members of the victim expressed alarm at Willis's release and sentence. Linda Cluff, Giselle's guardian, said that Giselle's credit has been ruined by the identity theft. Cluff said that Giselle now is required to bring documents with her wherever she goes to prove she is not Willis, and has lost an apartment because of the confusion caused by the crime.

"Anywhere she goes she's affected," Cluff said. "It's an ongoing struggle."

MacNeill's daughter Alexis Somers went further, saying that Willis's sentence freed a woman who had colluded with her father to kill her mother.

"We feel a murderer just walked out the doors," Somers said after Tuesday's hearing.

Somers and other MacNeill family members have worked for years to prove that their father was behind the death of their mother. Though no murder charges have been brought against MacNeill or Willis, court documents filed last month reveal that investigators believe MacNeill had the motive and ability to kill his wife. Willis and MacNeill reportedly were having an affair before Michele MacNeill's death, and the documents reveal that Willis expressed a desire to kill her. The documents also indicate that MacNeill may have killed his brother, as well as patients at the state Developmental Center in American Fork, where he was clinical director.

Neilsen said Tuesday that as part of Willis's plea bargain she could be required to testify against MacNeill, should he ever face charges for the death of his wife.

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