Page last updated at 20:31 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 21:31 UK

Briton's wife 'took her own life'

Elliot Weinstein
Defence lawyer Elliot Weinstein said his client had panicked when he saw a gun

The wife of Briton Neil Entwistle killed their daughter before turning the gun on herself, the defence has told his murder trial in the US.

The 29-year-old from Worksop, Notts, denies murdering his American wife Rachel, 27, and baby Lillian Rose.

His lawyer said Mr Entwistle hid a revolver found next to the bodies after returning from shopping to discover the pair dead at their home near Boston.

The jury will retire to consider its verdict later.

Judge Diane Kottmyer told jurors at Middlesex County Superior Court in Woburn, Massachusetts: "You must spend whatever time is necessary to reach a fair and just verdict."

The jury will consider whether Mr Entwistle is guilty of first degree murder, if they believe he acted with deliberate premeditation; guilty of second degree murder, if he intended to cause death or grievous bodily harm, or not guilty.

If convicted of first degree murder, Mr Entwistle faces life in prison without parole.

'Instantaneous death'

Rachel Entwistle and nine-month-old Lillian Rose were found dead in the bedroom of their home in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, on 20 January 2006.

Neil Entwistle's lawyer, Elliot Weinstein, told the court his client "panicked" after finding his father-in-law's .22 calibre Colt revolver lying next to them on a pillow, and tried to cover up his wife's suicide to save her reputation.

"First Rachel put Lillian over where she thought her heart was and shot her," Mr Weinstein said.

Everything that Neil did after finding Rachel and Lillian in the bedroom he did because he loved them
Elliot Weinstein

"The bullet travelled through Lillian and into Rachel's left breast. We know the breast was the first wound because of the bruising."

He went on: "Then she pointed the gun towards her head, steadied it with both hands and fired. She struck herself in the forehead. Death was instantaneous."

"Everything that Neil did after finding Rachel and Lillian in the bedroom he did because he loved them," Mr Weinstein said.

He said things "aren't always what they first appear to be" and that investigators had "Neil did it" filters after noting his name as a suspect on their field work even before visiting the scene.

"The investigation filters, the 'Neil did it' filters, prevented a clear picture from emerging," he said.

Mr Weinstein said his client was "distraught and devastated" and that his actions were those of a loving husband rather than those of someone who was thinking "rationally, clearly and concisely".

He told the jurors that the evidence "demands that you find Neil Entwistle not guilty".

However, in his closing speech, assistant district attorney Michael Fabbri urged jurors to find Mr Entwistle guilty of first degree murder.

"The idea of committing suicide by shooting through another person makes no common sense," the prosecutor said.

Mr Fabbri added: "There is one person responsible for these murders and that person is sitting right over there [pointing to Mr Entwistle]. He's the one who pulled that trigger twice.

"Neil Entwistle and no-one else is responsible for these murders."


The prosecutor held the gun allegedly used by Mr Entwistle as he made his closing speech

Brandishing the gun in the courtroom during his closing speech, Mr Fabbri said: "This was a homicide, not a suicide."

He added it was "unimaginable" that Mr Entwistle did not call the emergency services.

The court had previously heard that Mr Entwistle bought a one-way ticket to the UK the day after the deaths and did not call the emergency services.

It also heard that Mr Entwistle had a secret life in which he trawled the internet for escorts and looked at websites about bankruptcy and killing.

Mr Weinstein dismissed the evidence that Mr Entwistle used a sex and swinger website to hunt for other American women so he could have "more fun in bed" and that he used other sex-related sites.

He told the jury that times had changed from when Playboy magazine was only found in barbers' shops and added that millions of Americans now used sex websites every day.

Neil Entwistle, his wife Rachel and daughter Lillian Rose
Neil Entwistle said he found his wife and baby dead after a shopping trip

He also dismissed the accused's financial problems as "a few debts from college".

The jury panel of eight men and eight women was previously told that a post-mortem examination found Mrs Entwistle was shot in the forehead at close range and Lillian was killed with a bullet which passed through her abdomen and lodged above her mother's left breast as she cradled her on the bed.

Mr Entwistle told US authorities he found the bodies after returning from a shopping trip.

Prosecutors brought a total of 46 witnesses before the court during 12 days of laying out their case.

The defence rested without putting any witnesses on the stand.

'Peace of mind'

Earlier, the jury heard a recording of a phone call between Middlesex state trooper Robert Manning and Mr Entwistle on 26 January 2006, after he fled.

Mr Entwistle simply responded "OK" when Mr Manning, the lead investigator in the case, told him the deaths were being treated as the result of "foul play".

Mr Entwistle said when he saw the bodies there was "no question" that they were dead and asked whether the trooper thought his wife and baby had suffered.

When told it was "almost certainly quick", Mr Entwistle said it was "almost like peace of mind" because the "state of Lilly" led him to believe it "looked like there was more" than a gunshot.

Mr Entwistle also said he wanted to know the exact time of their deaths.

"If it was minutes before I walked in, that's going through my mind now. It would just be nice to know. It wouldn't change anything," Mr Entwistle said.

Later, speaking about being told that his wife and baby died from gunshot wounds, Mr Entwistle added: "It's a shock and a relief to hear it.

"You don't want to know what's happened; you don't want to believe what's happened; but once you know what's happened you can at least try to deal with that."

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