Entwistle to Return to Face Charges in U.S.

Neil Entwistle, the British man accused of killing his wife and infant daughter in their Massachusetts home, agreed Friday to return to the United States to face charges.

Home Secretary Charles Clarke signed an authorization order, clearing the last legal hurdle in Britain and allowing for Entwistle's extradition at any time.

Entwistle, who was arrested by British detectives at a London underground station on Thursday, told the Bow Street Magistrates Court through his lawyer that he wished to return to the United States "as soon as possible."

In a television interview Friday, Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley said once Entwistle, 27, arrives in Massachusetts, prosecutors would ask that he be held without bail pending a trial.

Entwistle is accused of using his father-in-law's handgun to shoot Rachel Entwistle, 27, and 9-month-old Lillian on Jan. 20 as they cuddled together in bed in the Boston suburb of Hopkinton. He flew to London the next day.

His legal team said outside the court that Entwistle had agreed to return voluntarily to avoid any "additional distress" to the family of his late wife or to his own parents.

District Judge Anthony Evans told Entwistle his decision to voluntarily return would be irrevocable.

"Yes, that's right," Entwistle said, glancing briefly at his father, Cliff Entwistle, as he signed a form consenting to return.

Evans ordered that Entwistle remain in custody until he is sent to the United States. As he was led away, the suspect smiled briefly at his father, who was the only family member at the hearing.

At his first court appearance Thursday, Entwistle said he was not prepared to consent to return. But his lawyer said Friday's move did not represent a change of heart.

"He was always inclined to consent," attorney Judith Seddon told reporters outside the court.

"He wants to cooperate with the authorities in any way that he can, and he is anxious that the delay may cause his late wife's family and his own additional distress, something he wishes to avoid," Seddon said. "He believes that he will receive a fair and a proper hearing in the U.S.A. of these very serious allegations."

Asked by The Associated Press whether Entwistle intended to contest the charges, Seddon said: "I can't give any indication of how he is likely to plead."

Coakley said Thursday that an arrest warrant was issued after forensic results indicated the .22-caliber handgun used in the shootings was from a collection owned by Entwistle's father-in-law.

Prosecutors suspect Entwistle took the gun from his father-in-law's home, then secretly returned it after the slayings.

Authorities allege Entwistle shot his wife in the head and his daughter in the abdomen. The district attorney said it was unclear whether the two were awake or asleep at the time.

The next day, Entwistle flew to London and stayed with his family in Worksop in central England, authorities said.

In Massachusetts on Friday, newly released court documents alleged that Entwistle told police three days after the slayings that he did not kill his wife and daughter, but discovered their bodies and then contemplated suicide.

Entwistle allegedly told Hopkinton Police Sgt. Joseph Bennett in a phone conversation from his parents' home in England that he left the house at 9 a.m. on Jan. 20, returned two hours later and found Rachel and Lillian dead.

Bennett's testimony, contained in an affidavit filed in support of the arrest warrant, claimed Entwistle said he covered up the bodies, then considered using a knife to commit suicide but did not go through with it. He allegedly claimed that he drove to his in-law's home in nearby Carver to get one of his father-in-law's guns to kill himself, but could not get in the home.

A first-degree murder conviction in Massachusetts carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.

Entwistle met American Rachel Souza in 1999 at the University of York in England, where she was spending a year abroad. They were married in 2003 and later moved to the United States.

Coakley said Entwistle's finances had deteriorated after the failure of his Internet businesses, which included a Web site that promised customers as much as $6,000 in monthly earnings and another that offered a manual to help men enlarge their penises.

Joe Flaherty, a spokesman for Rachel Entwistle's family, said they know a difficult legal process is just starting.

"Whether (the trial) happens a year from now or a year and a half, nothing is going to bring back Rachel and Lilly Rose," he said.

"It's going to be a long road for them," he added. "There will never really be closure in a case like this."