BOSTON – His picture has been splashed across newspapers and on television on both sides of the Atlantic: a young man accused of fatally shooting his wife and baby daughter in their Massachusetts home, then fleeing to his native England.
After Neil Entwistle was arraigned on murder charges Thursday, his lawyer spoke of fears about publicity surrounding the trial instead of answering questions about the case.
"I don't know that Mr. Entwistle will ever be able to get a fair trial on these charges," Elliot Weinstein said. "I am certain that anybody watching this telecast or reading the reporting of today's arraignment has already formed an opinion with respect to Mr. Entwistle's guilt ... And that opinion is based on absolutely no facts and absolutely no evidence, and that is quite unfortunate."
Entwistle, 27, kept his head bowed as officers led him into Framingham District Court wearing shackles and a bulletproof vest to face charges in the killings of his wife Rachel, 27, and 9-month-old daughter Lillian Rose. He entered a not guilty plea on the two counts of first-degree murder.
Outside, dozens of reporters, photographers and television satellite trucks filled the sidewalks and parking lot. One passing motorist yelled out: "Burn that baby killer."
More than a dozen of Rachel Entwistle's relatives and friends filled the first three rows of the courtroom. It was the first time they'd seen him since mother and daughter were killed.
The women carried bouquets of lilies and roses tied with long white ribbons. Rachel Entwistle's mother, Priscilla Matterazzo, never took her eyes off her son-in-law.
"It was very unsettling, of little comfort really to the family to see their son-in-law, someone who they loved and trusted, being charged with such an awful crime," family spokesman Joseph Flaherty said Friday.
Asked about the defense claim that Entwistle couldn't get a fair trial, Flaherty replied, "Honestly, I think that's nonsense."
"There are rules in place in the court system to take care of that," he said on CBS's "The Early Show." Massachusetts had had many high-profile trials in recent years, he said.
Judge Robert Greco ordered Entwistle held without bail pending a March 15 hearing, although the case could be transferred to Superior Court before then. Afterward Entwistle was taken to a Cambridge jail.
Entwistle is accused of shooting his wife and daughter in their home in Hopkinton, a small town west of Boston, on Jan. 20. Prosecutors say he used his father-in-law's .22-caliber handgun, then drove 50 miles to the parents' home in Carver to return the weapon.
The bodies were discovered by police on Jan. 22.
Entwistle flew to England a day after the shootings, was arrested there last week, and was flown back to the United States on Wednesday.
Entwistle was despondent over mounting debts and may have planned to commit suicide after killing his wife and daughter, prosecutors said. In the days before the slayings, Entwistle did research online about ways to kill people and how to commit suicide, according to search warrant affidavits made public this week.
The couple met in 1999 at the University of York, where Rachel was spending the year abroad. They married in 2003 and lived in England until late last year.