Briton lose appeal against US mother-and-baby murder convictions

 

A British man who is serving a life sentence in America for the murder of his wife and nine-month-old daughter has lost an appeal against his convictions.

Lawyers for Neil Entwistle had sought a re-trial, arguing evidence obtained during the warrantless searches of the family home in Massachusetts while police were looking for his wife and daughter should have been dismissed at the trial.

But Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the state's highest court, today upheld the convictions.

Justice Ralph Gants said: "None of the defendant's claims on appeal warrant reversal of the convictions.

"We have reviewed the entire trial record and conclude that the defendant received a fair trial that was able tried and judged.

"The interests of justice do not require the entry of a verdict of a lesser degree of guilt on the murder convictions or a new trial."

The court said in its decision that the searches were justified because of the possibility that residents were in danger.

Entwistle's lawyers had also argued that he was denied his right to a fair and impartial jury because the jury pool was tainted by the "saturating and inflammatory" media coverage of the case.

But after a review of the trial transcript, the Supreme Judicial Court concluded the judge conducted a careful, balanced, and thorough voir dire that addressed the risks posed by the pre-trial publicity and did not abuse her discretion in concluding that the jury selected were fair and impartial.

Entwistle, originally from Worksop, Notts, was jailed in June 2008 after being convicted of shooting his wife Rachel, 27, and their nine month old daughter Lillian in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, on January 20 2006.

The former IT worker left the US the day after the killings. He told police he had left because he wanted to be consoled by his parents in the UK.

He said he found his wife and daughter cuddled together in bed, dead of apparent gunshot wounds, after he returned home from running errands.

Entwistle was extradited to the US for trial where he was sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole at Middlesex County Superior Court in Woburn, Massachusetts, with the judge calling Entwistle's crimes "incomprehensible".

Today following nearly four months of deliberations, the Supreme Judicial Court ruled: "None of the defendant's claims on appeal warrants reversal of the convictions. We have reviewed the entire trial record ... and conclude that the defendant received a fair trial that was ably tried and judged.

"The interests of justice do not require the entry of a verdict of a lesser degree of guilt on the murder convictions or a new trial," said the unanimous opinion, which was written by Justice Ralph Gants.

PA

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