US shootings man Neil Entwistle launches appeal

 

Lawyers for a British man serving a life sentence in the US for shooting dead his wife and baby daughter today launched an appeal against his conviction.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court today heard arguments from Neil Entwistle's lawyer, Stephen Paul Maidman, who called for a new trial for the convicted murderer.

Entwistle, who is originally from Worksop, Nottinghamshire, was jailed in June 2008 for shooting his American wife Rachel, 27, and their nine-month-old daughter Lillian at their home in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, on 20 January 2006.

Today, Mr Maidman argued that Entwistle should be given a new trial because, he said, police entered and searched the family's home twice in two days unlawfully without warrants and that evidence obtained during these searches should have been suppressed by the judge.

He also questioned the impartiality of the jury selection during today's 40-minute hearing.

Police found the bodies of Rachel and Lillian in bed during their second check of the home in January 2006.

Before the presiding appeal judges sitting at the state's highest court today, Mr Maidman argued that evidence taken from the rented property during the searches should have been suppressed during the trial because it was unlawfully obtained by the police.

"On the two occasions when the police entered the defendant's house, the police did not have objective knowledge of an emergency inside the house or have objective knowledge that there was a person inside the home in need of immediate aid," Mr Maidman argued in his appeal brief.

He continued: "The inevitable discovery doctrine does not purge the taint on the evidence seized as a direct result of these unlawful searches or the taint on the evidence derived from these unlawful searches.

"All of this evidence should have been suppressed at the defendant's trial."

One of the presiding judges asked: "People are missing, a baby is missing, what's not an emergency about that? There may be evidence in the house to where they can be found."

Mr Maidman replied: "The searches were not reasonable under the emergency aid document. They should have gone to the court for a warrant."

But prosecutors have argued that the police were justified in entering the property because they were responding to concerns about the family's wellbeing raised by friends and relatives.

They say that Entwistle had become despondent after accumulating tens of thousands of dollars in debt and had complained about his sex life with his wife.

In court today, Casey Silvia, acting for the Commonwealth, argued: "When the police entered the home they were acting well within their role as community caretakers."

She added: "The purpose (of the search) was to find information to help them trace the missing family's whereabouts and was more than reasonable under the circumstances.

"There was nothing else the officers could possibly have done to locate this family. The only way remaining to locate that family was to go back into that house.

"There's no indication of any constitutional violation or any misconduct. In these circumstances the police's action was commendable. They acted as any citizen would expect them to act in these circumstances."

Entwistle, a former IT consultant from Kilton, Worksop, left the US the day after the killings and told police he had departed 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.

Friends giving evidence at the trial said the couple appeared to have had a happy marriage and were both thrilled with their daughter.

Entwistle met Rachel, of Kingston, Massachusetts, at college in England in 1999. The couple lived in England for a while after their daughter's birth, then moved to the US.

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".

Judge Kottmyer also imposed a 10-year probation sentence for two firearms offences and ordered that Entwistle should not profit from his crimes by writing a book.

When asked whether evidence should have been suppressed, Ms Silvia told today's hearing: "The only DNA evidence that was relevant to proving the case had nothing to do with the search of the Entwistle home.

"There was computer evidence but that would have still been there regardless of when the search was carried out."

Entwistle's lawyer also argued that judge Diane Kottmyer did not thoroughly question potential jurors to determine whether they were biased against him after the case received intense local and international news coverage.

"That there was extraordinary prejudicial pre-trial publicity in this case that was both saturating and inflammatory, by Massachusetts and even national standards, cannot be legitimately disputed," Mr Maidman stated in the appeal brief.

Judge Kottmyer denied Entwistle's request to move the trial out of Middlesex county.

"The defendant is entitled to a new trial utilising a jury selection process where there can be no question that the seated jurors are fair and impartial," Mr Maidman wrote.

But today Ms Silvia said the judge did "everything she could to" engage a fair and impartial jury.

She said the jury was asked to fill out a thorough and extensive questionnaire consisting of 26 questions, many asking them about their exposure to media coverage about the case and their opinions.

Four potential jurors were dismissed over bias concerns, Ms Silvia said.

Concluding the hearing, Ms Silvia appealed to the judges to affirm the sentence already handed to Entwistle.

The judges will now decide whether Entwistle is entitled to a new trial. That decision could take weeks or even months, a court clerk said.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java,Artificial Intelligence)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Front-Of...

C++ Quant Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Java/Calypso Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

SQL Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York