Entwistle Lawyer Claim Called Nonsense

A spokesman for the family of Rachel Entwistle disputes a claim by the lawyer for her husband, Neil Entwistle, that he can't get a fair trial in the county where the couple lived.

Neil pleaded not guilty to the murder of his wife and 9-month-old daughter. He was jailed without bail Thursday.

Rachel, 27, and Lillian were found shot to death in bed in the Entwistle home in the suburban Boston town of Hopkinton, Mass., late last month.

More than a dozen of Rachel Entwistle's family and friends filled the first three rows of the courtroom. The women carried bouquets of lilies and roses tied with long white ribbons.

It was the first time they set eyes on Neil since the murder.

Joe Flaherty, a spokesman for Rachel's family, took issue on The Early Show Friday with a claim by Neil's lawyer that Neil can't get a fair trial in Middlesex County, Mass., which includes Hopkinton.

"Honestly," Flaherty told co-anchor Hannah Storm, "that's nonsense. We've had many high-profile cases in Massachusetts.

"There was one just a few years ago, the John Salvi case, in a county much smaller than Middlesex."

Two receptionists were killed at Boston-area abortion clinics in 1994 by Salvi, who committed suicide in prison two years later.

"Middlesex County," Flaherty said, "is the largest county in Massachusetts. … (Besides), where you going to go? It's Massachusetts. It's a state case. The case has to be tried somewhere. … The rules are in place in the court system to take care of that and, of course, it's to make sure that nobody is biased in this case … to make sure the people picked for this jury will not be."

How did Rachel's family and their friends feel in the courtroom?

"It was very unsettling and of little comfort, really, to the family to see their son-in-law, someone who they loved and trusted being charged with such an awful crime," he said.

Court documents allege that, in the weeks before the murders, Neil had surfed the Internet for sites that described ways to kill people, and that he had searched for escort services, and even downloaded the directions to one escort service. All of that was news to Rachel's family, Flaherty said.

"As this information comes out … they're learning this for the first time," Flaherty said. "And it just shows, really, the level of deceit carried on by Neil Entwistle to this whole family.

"They had no idea that anything was wrong and certainly there's no indication that Rachel was aware that anything was wrong in that marriage, either. So it's very unsettling to them that there could be this much planning and, basically, premeditation that went into this crime."

As for prosecutors' claims that the gun used to kill Rachel and Lillian was taken from her stepfather's gun collection and then returned hours after the murders, Flaherty called that "the ultimate betrayal. Here's a man that lived under their roof that they treated very well, that twice goes into their home. Once, obviously, to take the murder weapon to commit these awful crimes.

"And then he drives 50 miles back to the home, to put the gun back in a locked gun cabinet to carry on this rouse before driving another 50 miles to Logan Airport and getting a one-way ticket back to (his native) England."

Editor's note: The family of Rachel Entwistle has established a fund in the slain woman's memory, but they are using her maiden name. The Rachel Souza Memorial Scholarship Fund was set up for students at Silver Lake Regional High School in Kingston, Mass., where Rachel graduated in 1997 before attending the College of the Holy Cross. Donations to the fund can be sent to the Rachel Souza Memorial Scholarship Fund, care of Sovereign Bank, 157 Summer St., Kingston, MA, 02364. Bank Manager Kash Khan says the account is now open and it will be up to the family to disburse the funds annually..