In the past two years, accused killer Neil Entwistle has not once shown any public signs of grief over the murder of his wife and infant daughter – but that all changed Thursday in a Massachusetts courtroom where he is on trial.
Entwistle broke down and cried as he watched a videotape depicting the dead bodies of his 27-year-old wife, Rachel, and 9-month-old baby daughter Lillian as they lay nestled together on a bed.
Before the jury viewed the grisly 20-minute video, taken by State Police crime investigators, Judge Diane Kottmeyer instructed them to "put aside any feelings of sympathy or any other emotions … and be objective in your consideration of the evidence."
As the videotape began to play, soft classical music could be heard in the background, music that police officials had already testified came from the baby's nursery. Entwistle's face grew red and he quickly covered his mouth and eyes with his hands as he looked down — seemingly unable to watch the gruesome images in front of him. Seconds later, he raised his head, his eyes fixed on the television monitor, and then again he buried his face in his hands, crying.
Although the family could not view the videotape from their vantage point, Yvonne Entwistle, Neil's mother, audibly sobbed. Her husband, Cliff, put his arm around her as she buried her face in his arms. Cliff, too, dabbed his eyes with some tissue. By contrast, Rachel's parents, Joe and Priscilla Matterrazo, sat quietly, holding hands, as the videotape documenting the crime scene involving their daughter and granddaughter played for the jury. The Matterrazos could not see the videotape; nor could any of the other courtroom spectators.
But the jury could. Several leaned forward as if to get a better look. Others brought their hands up to their mouths. But for the most part, all eyes, at least in the back of the courtroom, were on the defendant.
Media coverage of Entwistle's reaction to the videotape set off a bit of a firestorm because one person's sob, it seems, is another person's smile, at least when it comes to a high-profile murder case.
Several courtroom spectators say, and the Boston Herald newspaper reported, that Entwistle smiled, or half-smiled, as he watched the videotape.
It's an assertion that caused the defense attorneys, Stephanie Page and Elliot Weinstein, to break their stated policy of not talking to the media and deliver a blistering lecture to the assembled press outside the courthouse after court had adjourned for the day. "You all have a responsibility … There is no way that Neil would be laughing. He is grieving. He has lost his wife. He has lost his baby. You have heard what a loving father he was, what a loving husband he is," said Page.
In the afternoon, the jury heard from Lisa Scoutlas, a recruiter at Intrinsix Corp. of Marlborough, Mass. Entwistle had approached Scoutlas about a job in 2005 and then again in 2006 after moving to the United States from Great Britain. Testimony from Scoutlas gave the defense a chance, on cross examination, to introduce Entwistle's resume into evidence and to describe his extensive education and work experience.
But Scoutlas was just a brief reprieve from the grim parade of testimony from crime scene investigators. And the day ended with John Soares of the Mass. State Crime lab identifying various items of bloody bedding taken from the master bedroom at 6 Cubs Path. Soares' account echoed that of Mass. State Police Sgt. Mary Ritchie's testimony from the day before when he detailed the "red-brown spatter stains" found on the "pillows that covered the head of the female and above the head of the infant." And Soares testified that Rachel's body was found with "heavy red-brown staining on her green longsleeved shirt." And so it went until court adjourned for the day at 4 p.m.
The prosecution hopes to introduce DNA evidence today.