Dad Goes on Trial in Killing of Wife, Daughter

Images of a Loving Family

But other images surfaced on the Internet as well. Rachel and Neil had established a Web site for family and friends with photographs of the smiling, attractive couple on vacation. There were also photos of a beaming Lillian sitting up on a picnic blanket and pictures of a smiling Rachel cradling Lillian in her arms.

Prosecutors contend Entwistle killed his wife and baby daughter because he was unhappy with his sex life and distraught over his mounting debts. But Entwistle has maintained that he had a happy marriage and he has no idea who could have killed his family.

Elaine Whitfield-Sharp, a Massachusetts defense attorney, knows a thing or two about sensational murder trials. Whitfield-Sharp defended Louise Woodward, an English nanny charged in 1997 with shaking 8-month-old Matthew Eappen to death.

"There are so many negatives stacked against him in the eyes and ears of potential jurors. You would have to have been living under a rock not to have heard of something negative about Entwistle," Whitfield-Sharp said. "It could be a real problem."

Entwistle's court-appointed attorney, Elliot Weinstein, has been tight-lipped about the way he intends to defend his client. He refused to talk about the case on Friday, saying only that he would maintain his long-held position that he would not comment on the case.

But legal analyst Wendy Murphy said instead of arguing a diminished capacity or insanity defense, it looks like Weinstein intends to challenge "every piece of evidence" the prosecution presents because the "witness list is so long."

The problem with that strategy, according to Murphy, is that there is a substantial amount of evidence in this case.

"You can argue one, two, three pieces of evidence, but when you ask juries to turn a skeptical eye to such a lot of evidence it becomes a problem," Murphy said.

The trial is expected to last about a month. And the courthouse has been gearing up for the media swarm for weeks.

Comparison to Scott Peterson

Murphy likens the Neil Entwistle trial to the much-watched trial of Scott Peterson.

Peterson's wife Laci was 8 months pregnant with a baby boy she planned to name Connor she went missing on Christmas Eve 2002. The families released dozens of photographs showing a smiling, happy couple and begged for Laci's safe return.

But the picture of a happy marriage soon crumbled as reports surfaced that Scott had been having affairs. He was eventually arrested and convicted of murder, and is currently on death row.

Entwistle, like Peterson, is a handsome man who had seemingly been part of a story-book marriage.

"I call him the classic case of the Dream Date Ken defense. You can't look like the handsome boy next door and be convicted of anything gruesome," Murphy said. "It's hard for people to believe that someone who looks so handsome is capable of evil things. … You're supposed to look like a monster."

So jury selection could be crucial in this case.

Although she is not working for the defense, Murphy said she believes the defense will be trying to place "conservative white males, father's rights types" on the jury — men who might believe a man could be locked up unjustly.

Older women might be another key for the defense, according to Murphy, because they might be more reluctant to accept that "a guy like Neil could commit a crime … moms who forgive and justify that motherly instinct could work to his advantage."

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