boston.com your connection to The Boston Globe

A silent Entwistle is held without bail

Not-guilty plea is entered on murder counts

Neil Entwistle (center) stood during his arraignment on murder charges in Framingham District Court before Judge Robert V. Greco (left).
Neil Entwistle (center) stood during his arraignment on murder charges in Framingham District Court before Judge Robert V. Greco (left). (Pool Photo)

FRAMINGHAM -- Before live television cameras and his wife's grim-faced family, Neil Entwistle was ordered held without bail yesterday at his arraignment on charges that he murdered Rachel Entwistle and their baby daughter, Lillian, last month as they lay in bed in their Hopkinton home.

Entwistle stood mute and lock-jawed, his eyes occasionally glancing around the packed courtroom, as his lawyer entered a plea of not guilty and declined to seek his release on bail. The arraignment lasted two minutes and was held under extraordinary security in Framingham District Court.

After shuffling out of the courtroom in leg irons, the 27-year-old electrical engineer accused in the state's most closely watched homicide case in years donned a jail-issued orange jacket and gray pants and was driven to Middlesex County Jail in Cambridge.

Rachel Enwistle's family said in a statement that seeing Entwistle in the courtroom 27 days after prosecutors say he shot his wife and daughter only heightened their anguish.

''To think that someone we loved, trusted, opened our home to could do this to our daughter and granddaughter is beyond belief," Joseph Flaherty, a family spokesman, said as Rachel Entwistle's mother and stepfather, Priscilla and Joseph Matterazzo, clutched hands on the courthouse steps behind him.

The Matterazzos said they were astonished to learn, based on police affidavits unsealed this week, that Entwistle had allegedly led a life of secrecy and deception. In the week before the slayings, investigators say, he surfed the Internet for websites that describe ways to kill people and to look for escort services.

Police say the weapon used in the slayings was a .22-caliber revolver that Entwistle took from Joseph Matterazzo's gun collection in Carver some time before the killings and stealthily returned to their house hours after the slayings, before he flew the next morning to his native England.

Entwistle's DNA was found on the handgrip and Rachel's on the muzzle, according to a police affidavit, and Matterazzo apparently used the gun for target practice the day after the killings.

''What is most outrageous in our eyes is that he entered our home twice during the course of these crimes, once to take the murder weapon and arm himself and a second time after the murders, in an attempt to hide the weapon and perpetrate his crime," the Matterazzo family said in the statement.

Priscilla Matterazzo and several other female relatives and friends held bouquets of orange day lilies and pink roses, with stems wrapped in white satin. Shortly after the arraignment, they drove to Evergreen Cemetery in Kingston and placed the flowers on the grave of Rachel and Lillian, who were buried together in a single wooden casket.

Earlier, in front of the brick-faced courthouse, Entwistle's court-appointed lawyer, Elliot M. Weinstein, declared that he does not believe that his client can get a fair trial because of the massive publicity surrounding the case, and criticized journalists who he said had tried the case in the media without knowing the facts.

''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 upon the reporting, and that opinion is based upon absolutely no facts and absolutely no evidence," he said.

The slayings have generated a blizzard of news stories on both sides of the Atlantic. As Weinstein spoke, a television helicopter hovered overhead and at least a dozen satellite trucks beamed his words to viewers. Moments earlier, passing motorists yelled through open windows, ''He did it!" and ''Burn that baby-killer."

Weinstein has said he will seek to have the charges dismissed because of what he calls prejudicial pretrial publicity, but declined to say yesterday if that is still his plan or whether he plans to seek a change of venue for the trial.

Weinstein said he would not answer questions from reporters ''because I am not going to continue the publicity mill that surrounds this case."

But another lawyer questioned that decision. In an interview, Elaine Whitfield Sharp, a Marblehead lawyer who defended British au pair Louise Woodward in a 1997 murder trial that drew wall-to-wall news coverage, said that Entwistle's legal team would be wise to mount a media counteroffensive, rather than go silent.

Sharp said Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley ''went on national television and literally held court" last week when she announced Entwistle's arrest in London. However, prosecutors opposed the unsealing of 151 pages of affidavits Monday that laid out much of their evidence.

''When the prosecution goes to war with you in the media, you have to fight back," Sharp said. ''You cannot sit and say nothing."

Weinstein will have a seasoned criminal defense lawyer helping him. Stephanie Page, a senior staff attorney with the state's public defender agency, confirmed yesterday that she will be his cocounsel.

Page won the acquittal last month of a Quincy dominatrix accused of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a New Hampshire man whose body was never found, but who prosecutors said suffered a fatal heart attack while in her Quincy condominium. She also was cocounsel in the 2002 trial of Joseph Romano Jr., who was convicted of murdering his wife, Katherine, even though her body was never found. Prosecutors relied on microscopic DNA evidence found on a saw blade to convince Norfolk County jurors.

Entwistle's case has generated such passion that court officials beefed up security yesterday, adding officers and deploying deputies from the Middlesex sheriff's office. In addition to the metal detectors customarily placed at the entrance of the courthouse, court officers waved hand-held detectors over everyone who entered the courtroom where Entwistle was arraigned before District Court Judge Robert V. Greco. About 80 reporters, family members, and others filled the courtroom, lining the walls and filling additional chairs.

Entwistle is scheduled to return to Framingham District Court March 15 for a probable cause hearing, but he is expected to be indicted by a grand jury and his case transferred to Superior Court. If he is indicted, it will probably be about a year before the case goes to trial, said Emily LaGrassa, a spokeswoman for Coakley. If convicted of first-degree murder, Entwistle would face life in prison without parole.

In the meantime, Entwistle will be held in the jail that currently houses about 340 detainees atop the Middlesex courthouse. Mark Lawhorne, a spokesman for Middlesex Sheriff James V. DiPaolo, said that while he could not discuss Entwistle specifically, some detainees are housed in single-bunk cells that measure 6 feet by 8 feet and contain a sink, toilet, and bed frame.

Yesterday's arraignment drew numerous spectators outside the courthouse.

Bob LaRochelle, 64, of Wayland, who was on his way to the grocery store, stopped when he saw the TV satellite trucks. ''He should be executed, but they don't have execution in this state," he said of Entwistle.

But Robert Martin, 74, of Framingham, accused the media of overplaying the case.

''The actual crime is horrendous, but we've already condemned the man," he said ''As bad as it is, is he going to get a fair trial? I doubt it very much."

John R. Ellement and Raja Mishra of the Globe staff and Globe correspondents Janice Nickerson and Elizabeth Raftery contributed to this report. Saltzman can be reached at jsaltzman@globe.com; Kocian at lkocian@globe.com.

related coverage
SEARCH THE ARCHIVES
 
Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months
 Advanced search / Historic Archives