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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 February 2006, 23:18 GMT
Briton denies US family murders
Neil Entwistle in court
Neil Entwistle flew to the UK after the 20 January deaths
A British man has pleaded not guilty in a US court to murdering his American wife and baby daughter.

Neil Entwistle, 27, extradited from the UK on Wednesday, appeared at Framingham District Court, in Massachusetts.

He is accused of killing wife Rachel and nine-month-old Lillian in January, before flying to the UK to stay at his parents' home in Worksop, Notts.

After his lawyer made the plea, the court said he would be held without bail until appearing again on 15 March.

If found guilty of first degree murder, Mr Entwistle would be sentenced to life in jail.

Brief hearing

No details of the charges were read during the hearing, which lasted only a few minutes.

Mr Entwistle, grim-faced in a black zip-up top, nodded when asked whether he knew what the charges were.

All of our efforts will be to see that he receives the fairest of trials with the expectation of him being exonerated
Elliot Weinstein
Lawyer

Rachel's stepfather Joseph Matterazzo and mother Priscilla, who was carrying flowers, were in court for the hearing.

Mr Entwistle's lawyer, Elliot Weinstein said outside court that he would "vigorously, aggressively and successfully" defend his client.

But he added: "My concern that he can't get a fair trial is because of what has occurred in the publicity surrounding this event."

Joe Flaherty, a spokesman for Rachel Entwistle's parents, read out a statement after the hearing.

"Seeing Neil Entwistle standing accused of this awful crime does us little comfort and in fact only adds to our moment of pain and suffering," they said.

"To think that someone we loved and trusted, opened our home to, could do this to our daughter and granddaughter, is beyond belief."

'Debts'

A plane carrying Mr Entwistle to the US from the UK landed just before 1730 local time on Wednesday at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, north-west of Boston.

He was taken to Hopkinton police station in a four-car cavalcade, with press helicopters flying overhead, and was fingerprinted before spending the night in cells.

His lawyer earlier said: "A very serious tragedy occurred in this town several weeks ago when a woman and her daughter were found murdered.

"The State and the Middlesex District Attorney has decided to charge Neil Entwistle with these crimes, and today at Framingham District Court we will appear for the arraignment, when he is formally charged in the court with the crimes of murder.

KEY DATES
22 January - Rachel Entwistle and her daughter Lillian are found dead in their home
28 January - Mr Entwistle is questioned in London after returning to the UK
1 February - Mrs Entwistle and Lillian are buried
15 February - Mr Entwistle is extradited to the US to face murder charges
16 February - Mr Entwistle pleads not guilty in US court

"At that time we will plead not guilty, and from that moment forward all of our efforts will be to see that he receives the fairest of trials with the expectation of him being exonerated... for that which he is now charged."

Mrs Entwistle and baby Lillian were shot dead on 20 January, and their bodies found in a bed at the home two days later.

Entwistle family
The Entwistles had moved to the US after their daughter was born

Mr Entwistle left the US on 21 January and went to stay at his parents' home in Worksop, Nottinghamshire.

He was arrested by Metropolitan Police officers at Royal Oak Tube station, in west London, on 9 February, and agreed to be extradited at a court appearance a day later.

Framingham District Court released documents on Tuesday claiming Mr Entwistle had conducted internet searches about euthanasia, suicide and "killing people with a knife" the week before his wife and daughter's deaths.

State trooper Michael Banks also gave a sworn statement that the Entwistles had accumulated a "sizeable amount of debt" that appeared "to have caused a strain in their relationship".

Mr Weinstein has been assigned to defend Mr Entwistle by the Committee for Public Counsel Services, the Massachusetts body which provides representation for people who cannot afford to hire a private lawyer.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Watch Neil Entwistle appearing in court



SEE ALSO:
Shot mother and baby buried in US
01 Feb 06 |  Americas


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