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Entwistle defense cites report of jury pool bias

Potential juror tells of comments

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Franci R. Ellement
Globe Correspondent / June 5, 2008

WOBURN - When he was asked to explain what he knew about the double murder trial of Neil Entwistle, one potential juror told Judge Diane Kottmyer yesterday that he had heard it was a case that involved a "guy who killed his family."

Another potential juror, one of many who acknowledged believing that Entwistle was guilty of killing his wife and baby daughter, uttered as he left, "God forgive me if I'm wrong; God help him if I'm right."

But when a Medford woman disclosed yesterday that she heard other potential jurors saying that Entwistle should "fry" and that they should "send him away," defense lawyer Elliot Weinstein made his fourth impassioned plea in three days to Kottmyer to dismiss the case or change the venue.

"We have an impermissible, infected pool of jurors," Weinstein said to Kottmyer. "We have not heard this from other jurors. Some number are not telling you the truth in response to your questions. These are attitudes people hold, and they are not conveying them to you when you ask those questions."

Kottmyer, whom Weinstein has accused of failing to ferret out bias among juror candidates, denied the motion again. "I don't agree with you that a lot of jurors are being dishonest," she said.

At a press conference later, the defense lawyer said, "We now know without any doubt that Neil Entwistle cannot get a fair trial."

Entwistle, 29, faces two counts of murder in the shooting deaths of his wife, Rachel, 27, and their 9-month-old daughter, Lillian Rose, in their rented Hopkinton house in January 2006.

The Medford woman, who would not give her name, told reporters later that she had heard the "fry him" and "send him away" comments from a few people waiting Monday to register for the jury pool.

"I didn't participate in the comments," she added. She was excused from service after she said that she did not know if she could be impartial.

Scores of potential jurors have been dismissed after admitting that they have already formed an opinion about Entwistle's case. Authorities say a jury is likely to be empaneled by this afternoon.

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