British man accused of killing wife, baby pleads not guilty

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (AP) – A British man accused of killing his wife and 9-month-old daughter pleaded not guilty to murder charges Tuesday during his arraignment in Superior Court.

Neil Entwistle, 27, is charged with two counts of murder and firearms charges in the Jan. 20 slayings of his wife, Rachel, 27, and their baby daughter, Lillian Rose.

He stood silent and somber as a court clerk read the murder charges. His lawyer told the judge they would waive the reading of the weapons charges and asked him to enter a not guilty plea on Entwistle’s behalf to all counts.

Entwistle has been held without bail in a Cambridge jail since he was originally arraigned in Framingham District Court on Feb. 16. His indictment on March 28 moved the case to Middlesex Superior Court, where he was arraigned Tuesday.

Rachel Entwistle’s mother and stepfather, Priscilla and Joseph Matterazzo, and about a dozen other friends and family members watched the proceedings, which lasted only five minutes. The women wore pink roses in honor of Lillian Rose, who would have turned 1 on Sunday.

“They miss Rachel and Lillian Rose every minute of every day,” said family spokesman Joseph Flaherty. “It doesn’t bring them any comfort to see him standing there and know that their daughter and granddaughter are gone.”

The case has sparked a flood of media coverage here and in Britain, where Neil Entwistle grew up. Entwistle flew to his parents’ home in England the day after the killings.

His attorney, Elliot Weinstein, said media coverage has been unfair to Entwistle.

“It is absolutely impossible for Neil Entwistle to receive a fair trial,” he said after the arraignment.

Prosecutors allege that Entwistle shot his wife and daughter in their $2,700-a-month rented home in suburban Boston after racking up tens of thousands of dollars in debts and becoming dissatisfied with his sex life.

They also said Entwistle may have planned to commit suicide, but instead fled to his parents’ home in England.

In the days before the slayings, Entwistle did research online about ways to kill people and how to commit suicide, according to affidavits filed by investigators. He also trolled the Internet for escort services, according to court documents.

The bodies of Rachel and Lillian Entwistle were found lying together in bed, under a thick comforter.

Prosecutors said Entwistle used his father-in-law’s .22-caliber handgun, then drove 50 miles to the parents’ home in Carver to return the weapon.

Entwistle allegedly told a state police detective that he returned home from doing errands to find his wife and daughter dead. He said he thought about killing himself after discovering their bodies, but could not go through with it, according to affidavits.

A hearing in the case was scheduled for May 23. Superior Court Judge Peter Lauriat set a goal of starting the trial by April 2007.

Entwistle met Rachel Souza, a Holy Cross student from Kingston, in 1999 at Britain’s University of York, in northern England, where she was spending the year abroad. The couple married in 2003 and lived in England. Their daughter was born in April 2005.

The couple moved to Carver in southeastern Massachusetts last summer and lived with Rachel’s relatives until January, when they moved to their rented home in Hopkinton. Ten days later, Rachel and Lillian Entwistle were found dead.

In addition to the murder charges, Entwistle is charged with illegal possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition. If convicted, he faces a mandatory life sentence; Massachusetts does not have a death penalty.



EDITORS’ NOTE – Denise Lavoie is a Boston-based reporter covering the courts and legal issues. She can be reached at dlavoie(at)ap.org

AP-ES-04-11-06 0934EDT

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