Briton convicted of murdering wife, baby

June 25, 2008 4:59:03 PM PDT
A British man who fled the U.S. after his wife and baby were shot to death was convicted of murder Wednesday by a jury that rejected defense claims that the mother killed her daughter and herself as they snuggled in bed. Neil Entwistle, 29, closed his eyes and shook his head slightly upon being found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of his wife, Rachel, 27, and their 9-month-old baby, Lillian Rose.

His parents immediately maintained their son's innocence and said he had not received a fair trial.

"We know that our son Neil is innocent, and we are devastated to learn that the evidence points to Rachel murdering our grandchild and then committing suicide," his mother, Yvonne Entwistle, said outside the Middlesex Superior Court.

"I knew Rachel was depressed. Our son will now go to jail for loving, honoring and protecting his wife's memory," she said.

Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone, standing with Rachel's family, including her mother and stepfather, Priscilla and Joseph Matterazzo, condemned Entwistle for "disparaging the memory of his wife and vilifying the entire Matterazzo family by his decisions during the course of this trial."

Prosecutors allege Entwistle was in debt and dissatisfied with his sex life when he shot his family with Joseph Matterazzo's gun in January 2006. He then traveled 50 miles to return the gun to the Matterazzos' home and bought a one-way airline ticket home to England. He was extradited less than a month later.

The defense called no witnesses, but Entwistle's attorney claimed during closing arguments that Rachel Entwistle shot her baby and committed suicide. Entwistle claimed he returned the gun because he wanted to preserve his wife's honor.

Prosecutors rejected the suicide claim, saying the bullet that killed Lillian went through the breast of Rachel Entwistle, who then would have had to have raised the gun over her head to kill herself.

Jurors deliberated a day and a half before convicting Neil Entwistle of murder and two weapons charges.

Sentencing was scheduled for Thursday morning. In Massachusetts, the sentence for first-degree murder is automatically life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Joseph Matterazzo declined to comment on the verdicts but thanked everyone who offered prayers, cards and support, including his stepdaughter's former students at a Catholic school in Droitwich, England, where she taught English.

Prosecutors said Neil Entwistle had been in a downward spiral since moving to the United States four months before the killings.

He had been unable to find a job, had had several Internet businesses fail and had just moved into a $2,700-per-month rented home in Hopkinton.

A police detective testified about computer records that showed Entwistle trolled the Internet for local escort services and joined an online swingers' site.

During the trial, jurors heard Entwistle discuss the killings during three hours of recorded phone conversations with a state trooper in the week after the murders.

Entwistle told police he returned home from running errands on the morning of Jan. 20, 2006, and found his wife and daughter cuddled together in bed, dead of apparent gunshot wounds.

He stammered after Sgt. Robert Manning asked him repeatedly if he had done something "out of character" the day his wife and daughter were killed.

"No, no, no," he said.

"Of course, no, I couldn't do that. Why would I do that?"

He struggled to explain why he never called police or sought medical help for his wife and daughter before flying back to England the day after the killings.

Entwistle told Manning he was distraught and wanted to be consoled by his parents in Worksop, England. "Looking back on it, I don't know why I did things in the way that I did," he said.

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