Defence claims Neil Entwistle's wife shot baby then herself
Monday 23 June 2008
Double murder suspect Neil Entwistle's lawyer today claimed his American wife killed their baby daughter before committing suicide.
Elliot Weinstein said Entwistle returned home from a shopping trip to find the bodies of his 27-year-old wife Rachel and their nine-month-old baby Lillian Rose on the four-poster bed in their new home in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, on January 20, 2006.
Mr Weinstein said Entwistle saw his father-in-law's .22 calibre Colt revolver lying next to them on the bed, panicked and tried to cover up his wife's suicide in a bid to save her reputation.
"First Rachel put Lillian over where she thought her heart was and shot her," Mr Weinstein said.
"The bullet travelled through Lillian and into Rachel's left breast. We know the breast was the first wound because of the bruising."
Holding his hands together above his head, Mr Weinstein went on: "Then she pointed the gun towards her head, steadied it with both hands and fired. She struck herself in the forehead. Death was instantaneous."
The jury panel of eight men and eight women was told that a post-mortem examination found Mrs Entwistle was shot in the forehead at close range and Lillian was killed with a bullet which passed through her abdomen and lodged above her mother's left breast as she cradled her on the bed.
Everything that Neil did after finding Rachel and Lillian in the bedroom he did because he loved them," Mr Weinstein said.
He said things "aren't always what they first appear to be" and that investigators had "Neil did it" filters after noting his name as a suspect on their field work even before visiting the scene.
"The investigation filters, the 'Neil did it' filters, prevented a clear picture from emerging," he said.
Mr Weinstein claimed Entwistle saw the .22 calibre gun, which belonged to his father-in-law Joseph Matterazzo, on the pillow next to the bodies and acted to protect his wife's reputation.
"Neil's entire family, his entire reason for being in America, was gone. The unexpected, the unimaginable, had happened."
Mr Weinstein went on: "How could he permit the police to come knowing that Joe's revolver in the bed would let people know that Rachel did what Rachel did?
"He had to get the .22 back to (the Matterazzo's home at) Carver, and he couldn't call the police because he couldn't tell them what Rachel did."
Mr Weinstein said Entwistle was "distraught and devastated" and that his actions were those of a loving husband rather than those of someone who was thinking "rationally, clearly and concisely".
He told the jurors that the evidence "demands that you find Neil Entwistle not guilty".
The lawyer, who wears cowboy boots in court, also suggested that Mrs Entwistle's mental status may have been in question and accused the prosecution of failing to provide all the evidence.
"You have the right to expect more," he told the jury.
Entwistle had a secret life in which he trawled the internet for escorts and looked at websites about bankruptcy, killing and suicide before shooting dead his family, the court has heard.
But Mr Weinstein dismissed the evidence that Entwistle used the sex and swinger website Adult Friend Finder to hunt for other American women so he could have "more fun in bed" and that he used other sex-related sites, including HalfPriceEscorts.com.
He told the jury that times had changed from when Playboy magazine was only found in barbers' shops and added that millions of Americans now used sex websites every day.
He also dismissed Entwistle's financial problems as "a few debts from college".
But assistant district attorney Michael Fabbri urged the jurors to use their common sense and find Entwistle guilty of first degree murder.
"The idea of committing suicide by shooting through another person makes no common sense," he said.
Pointing to Entwistle, he went on: "There is one person responsible for these murders and that person is sitting right over there. He's the one who pulled that trigger twice.
"Neil Entwistle and no one else is responsible for these murders."
During his closing speech, in which he waved the gun around the courtroom, Mr Fabbri accused the defence team of highlighting "red herrings" and went on: "This was a homicide, not a suicide."
Holding the gun above his head with both hands, he added: "It could not have happened the way they said it happened."
He said a notebook, in which Entwistle wrote how much he loved his wife and daughter on one side, and then how he planned to sell his story to the highest bidder on the other, showed "the two sides of Neil Entwistle".
"I'm not just talking a simple statement," it read.
"I'm talking the full story as told to the police. There will be enough material to take a week."
Entwistle lied, searched the internet for "how to kill with a knife" and hunted for sexual partners as soon as his wife and daughter moved to the US in August 2005, Mr Fabbri said.
He added that Entwistle and his defence was "projecting his own status on to Rachel" with the suicide theory.
"He was the one who came here, did not have friends, did not have family, was trying to get a job but failing at that, was trying to start his businesses, but failing at that.
"He was failing to provide for his family. And whether that justifies homicide, I'm not going to stand here and say that makes any sense."
He added it was "unimaginable" that Entwistle did not call 911.
Entwistle denies two counts of first degree murder and faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of the double murder.
His defence team offered no witnesses in the trial at the Middlesex County Superior Court.
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