York graduate Neil Entwistle has pleaded not guilty to charges of murdering his wife and baby after being extradited to America.
He appeared in a Massachusetts court on Thursday 16th February where he is being held without bail until a second hearing in March.
Rachel Entwistle, 27, and the couple’s nine month old daughter Lillian were found shot dead at their home in Hopkington, Massachusetts on January 22. After returning to his parents’ home in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, Neil Entwistle, also 27, was arrested by British police on February 9 and agreed to be extradited to the US to face trial.
At the hearing, which lasted only a few minutes, Mr Entwistle confirmed he was aware of the charges against him, before being led away in handcuffs, leg shackles and a bulletproof vest. Entwistle could face life imprisonment with no parole, and has been placed on suicide watch by US authorities.
In a public statement following the hearing, Elliot Weinstein, Entwistle’s lawyer, criticised the media coverage of the case, saying “my concern is that he cannot get a fair trial because of what has occurred in the publicity surrounding this event”.
Authorities believe the crime was intended as a murder-suicide, and court papers released last week detail internet searches carried out by Mr Entwistle into euthanasia, suicide and “killing people with a knife”, as well as others regarding escort services in Boston.
Mr. Entwistle claims he returned home from an errand on the morning of January 20 to find his wife and daughter dead in one of the family’s bedrooms, after which he found a knife, intending to kill himself, but decided it would be too painful. He then drove to his in-laws’ house to inform them of the tragedy, as he didn’t have their telephone number, but finding the house empty, drove to Boston airport and boarded a flight to Britain.
Prosecutors believe Mr. Entwistle killed his wife and daughter after amassing debts of tens of thousands of dollars. They claimed he carried out the murder using his father-in-law’s gun, which the prosecution allege he later returned to their house while they were out, leaving the house keys in his BMW at Boston airport.
A spokesman for Rachel’s parents, Joseph and Priscilla Matterazzo, made a statement on behalf of the family, describing their disbelief that “someone we loved, trusted and opened our home to could do this to our daughter and granddaughter” and describing their feelings of betrayal.
The district attorney’s office will now present the case to a grand jury, which will decide whether to formally indict Mr. Entwistle with the charges, based on the amount of evidence available, with a second “status” hearing scheduled for March 15.