WOBURN - In his first public comments, the stepfather of the woman killed with her baby in Hopkinton presented dramatic testimony yesterday of how Neil Entwistle asked his in-laws to bury his wife and child together because "that's the way I left them."
"He asked me if Rachel and Lilly could be buried together because 'that's the way I left them, I mean, found them,' " Joseph Matterazzo, 61, said yesterday as he testified in the second day of the trial in Middlesex Superior Court. "That's exactly what he said."
Authorities said Entwistle, 29, fled to England after he shot to death his wife, Rachel, 27, and their 9-month-old daughter, Lillian, in the couple's bed in their rented house on Jan. 20, 2006. Police said Entwistle stole the .22-caliber pistol that Matterazzo taught him to shoot with and then returned it to his stepfather's locked cache after the slaying of his wife and daughter.
Matterazzo's testimony was seen as an important part of the case, which prosecutors are building largely on circumstantial evidence.
At one point during the conversations, Matterazzo said, he asked Entwistle: "Neil, did you do this, or do you know who did this?" Entwistle replied he did not, Matterazzo said.
During several conversations in the three days after the killings, Matterazzo said Entwistle called from England, his voice a "very shaky, whimpering type."
"The first thing he said is: 'Hi Joe. I don't know how things got like this,' " Matterazzo said.
Matterazzo said Entwistle told him he had fed Lilly her breakfast and left the house at 9 a.m. to head to Staples and
"It was just a big mess," Matterazzo said Entwistle told him.
According to Matterazzo, Entwistle said he then drove to the family home in Carver because he knew Matterazzo kept guns, but when he got there, he could not get in. Entwistle had told police he wanted to kill himself.
"He wanted to see me and Priscilla, but he said he couldn't face me," Matterazzo said.
Entwistle ended up at the airport and called his father to book him a one-way flight to England.
Defense attorney Elliot Weinstein has alluded to a strategy of creating doubt about Entwistle's guilt by questioning the activities of Matterazzo.
On cross-examination, Weinstein pointed out that State Police had checked Matterazzo's whereabouts during the killings. He also pointed out that the stepfather did not pay for Rachel's college tuition and that he and Rachel's mother, Priscilla, had declined to cosign for the couple to lease a BMW.
But Matterazzo countered that he and Rachel's mother volunteered to give their daughter the family car instead and that they had declined to cosign because of their own financial issues.
Prosecutors also brought in four witnesses yesterday who corroborated Matterazzo's statement that he was working between 9 and 11 a.m. on the Friday police say Rachel and Lillian were killed.
Yesterday, lawyers also questioned two other witnesses close to Rachel: a friend from kindergarten, Michelle Vigneaux, 29, of Worcester; and a cousin by marriage, Maureen Renaud of Plymouth.
Vigneaux said she was also getting closer to Rachel after she had returned to the States. She said Rachel had seemed happy, but also talked of the couple having their privacy together and getting back in shape.