As opening arguments began in the Neil Entwistle murder trial, the 16-member jury sat upright, clutching notebooks. Spectators packed the small courtroom. And two families sat 10 feet away from each other, but worlds apart.
On one side a family from Carver, Mass., grieving the loss of two family members and praying for justice. The other a family from Worksop, England, hoping the trial would end in exoneration, not a life sentence for their son.
In his opening arguments, defense attorney Elliot Weinstein, sporting his signature black cowboy boots, promised the jury the evidence would be "sordid, gruesome and graphic." He asked them to "not get overwhelmed."
Weinstein also cautioned the jury to remember that "over and over, again and again, things are not the way they may first appear to be."
Neil Entwistle, 29, is charged with killing his 27-year-old wife, Rachel, and 9-month-old daughter, Lillian The bodies of Rachel and Lillian Entwistle were found intertwined on a bed in their rented home on a quiet cul-de-sac in Hopkinton, Mass., in January 2006. Both were fatally shot.
Authorities tracked Entwistle down at his parent's home in Worksop, England. And court documents show that Entwistle told law enforcement that he found his wife and daughter dead after he returned from a shopping trip, and he fled to England to be with his family. Entwistle never returned for the funeral, and he was arrested and charged with their murder on Feb. 8.
Assistant District Attorney Michael Fabbri argued that although the relationship between Rachel and Neil looked to be "nothing but loving and stable and nourishing ... there was another side to Neil Entwistle."
That other side, according to Fabbri, showed that Entwistle surfed porn sites and "discussed the possibility of setting up discrete liaisons" at one site called "Adult Friend Finder."
And, Fabbri raised questions about why a loving husband would not return for his dead wife and daughter's funeral but "sent flowers." And, why, when Entwistle was arrested, did he have a clipping from a local newspaper listing escorts and notes about "selling his story to the highest bidder," Fabbri said.
But during his opening statement, Weinstein described Rachel and Neil Entwistle as "soul mates." He said that Entwistle's "world changed, never to be the same" on that cold day in January 2006.
After opening arguments, the prosecution got down to the slow, plodding work of trying to prove that Entwistle shot and killed his wife and daughter.
Priscilla Matterazzo, Rachel Entwistle's mother, was the first witness to take the stand. Rachel and Neil had lived with the Matterazzos for a few months before moving into their own home in Hopkinton, Mass. And it was Priscilla Matterazzo who asked police to do a "well being" check on her daughter's home on Jan. 21, 2006, when Rachel didn't show up for planned lunch and dinner get-togethers.
Matterazzo displayed no emotion on the witness stand and said only that she was "shocked and upset" when she learned of her daughter and granddaughter's murder. Matterazzo also stated that she found her son-in-law "very distant" in the weeks leading up to the murders.
On cross-examination, defense attorney Stephanie Page asked Matterazzo if Neil Entwistle "was a loving father to Lillian" and did he "dress, wash, change her diapers and play with her silly on the floor." To which Matterazzo replied, simply, "Yes."
After that, there was a parade of witnesses. At one point, Margaret Cafano of Norwell, Mass., a long-time co-worker and friend of Priscilla Matterazzo's, choked up and refused to look at the defendant when asked to do so by Michael Fabbri. Eventually, and reluctantly, she glanced at him long enough to identify him for the court.
The co-workers are key because Entwistle allegedly told investigators that on the day of the murders he was distraught after finding the bodies and drove down to Carver to find his in-laws. He then tried to drive to Priscilla Matterazzo's office but claimed he couldn't find his way there. The prosecutors attempted to show that Entwistle had, in fact, been to the office many times.
The gun used to kill Rachel and Lillian Entwistle was a .22. Prosecutors allege that the gun was owned by Joe Matterazzo, Rachel's stepfather. In his opening statement, Michael Fabbri said that DNA belonging to Neil Entwistle had been found on the ammo can and gun lock of a gun in Matterazzo's collection. And Rachel Entwistle's DNA was "in and on" the muzzle.
Prosecutors believe Entwistle stole the gun at some point from his in-laws home and then returned it before fleeing the country. In court, prosecution witnesses testified that Entwistle had often gone shooting at a local gun club and knew how to shoot a .22. But defense attorney Page countered that the keys to Joseph Matterazzo's gun collection were easily accessible to anyone in the house.
The trial is expected to last three more weeks.