Page last updated at 02:53 GMT, Saturday, 7 June 2008 03:53 UK

Emotion on hold at Entwistle trial

By Rajesh Mirchandani
in Woburn, Massachusetts

Neil Entwistle
Prosecutors say Neil Entwistle is 'a cold blooded killer'

There was heavy rain as Neil Entwistle was brought to the courthouse near Boston in the early morning.

Dark tinted windows on the official black SUV hid the Briton accused of murdering his wife and nine-month daughter, but the waiting media caught a glimpse of him, through slatted wooden fencing, as he walked the few steps into the building.

He wore a dark suit and tie and looked calm, almost relaxed.

The 29-year-old showed little emotion too as he was led into court. The room was packed with media, but the first two rows behind the lawyers benches were reserved.

The revelations and the posturing pre-trial had given way to a sharper focus on the evidence.

Behind Neil Entwistle were his family: father Clifford, mother Yvonne and younger brother Russell. They have been here all week, during the long-drawn-out process of jury selection.

In their only statement this week they said they believed Neil "is 100% innocent".

On the other side of courtroom 430 sat several members of Rachel Entwistle's family, who accuse him of an "unbearable betrayal".


Mrs Entwistle's mother Priscilla Matterazzo and stepfather Joseph Matterazzo were among them, making their first appearance at the trial.

The room bristled with the potential for confrontational outbursts.

At one point during prosecutor Michael Fabbri's opening statement, one member of the late Mrs Entwistle's family was seen to pull her cardigan closer around her, and wipe something from her eye, perhaps a tear. It was a sign of the strain the family must be feeling.

Yet it was as much emotion as any family members showed that first day - at least in public. I had seen Neil Entwistle's family earlier in the week during a lunch break, at a local supermarket, sitting on a bench with takeaway coffees.

They looked tired and drawn; none of them spoke, each seemed lost in their own thoughts.

'Cold blooded killer'

In court, Assistant District Attorney Mr Fabbri told jurors they would see there was only one murderer in this case - Neil Entwistle - and he used the defendant's own statements to paint a picture of him as a cold-blooded killer.

He quoted Mr Entwistle's statement to police: "I didn't even think of funeral arrangements for them.....I didn't even call 911 or call for help." Mr Fabbri paused. "For his wife and baby," he added, for emphasis.

After his vocal complaints on the court steps about how his client could never receive a fair trial, some were expecting drama from defence lawyer Elliot Weinstein. Yet he was quite brief and undemonstrative as he made his opening statements.

Mr Weinstein spoke slowly and deliberately as he told the jury: "Neil lost everything that day.....he loved his wife and baby."

The first witness to be called was Priscilla Matterazzo, mother of Rachel and grandmother to baby Lillian. Her testimony was extremely measured, her answers unemotional and functional.

Rachel Entwistle and her daughter Lillian
Rachel Entwistle and her daughter Lillian were murdered in January 2006.

When asked about her "demeanour on hearing the news" that Rachel and Lillian were dead, Mrs Matterazzo simply said: "shocked and upset".

After Mrs Matterazzo's evidence, a few friends and colleagues of hers took the stand. Their evidence too was given speedily.

After the first day of the trial was adjourned at just after four o'clock, lawyers left without a word, perhaps a sign that the revelations and the posturing pre-trial had given way to a sharper focus on the evidence.

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