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Entwistle faulted on blaming his wife

Gets life term without parole for killing family

By Franci R. Ellement
Globe Correspondent / June 27, 2008
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WOBURN - Minutes before a judge sentenced Neil Entwistle yesterday to spend the rest of his life in prison, Priscilla Matterazzo condemned her son-in-law for attempting to shift his murderous responsibility onto the victim.

"Our dreams as a parent and grandparent have been shattered by the shameful, selfish act of one person, Neil Entwistle," Matterazzo said, reading a victim impact statement at Middlesex Superior Court. "For him to have tried to hide behind an accusation of murder-suicide of this beautiful woman and perfect mother is low and despicable."

Entwistle, 29, was sentenced yesterday to two life sentences without chance of parole. Judge Diane Kottmyer also ordered him never to profit from the story.

Entwistle's defense team said he had returned home from errands on Jan. 20, 2006, and found Rachel Entwistle, 27, and 9-month-old Lillian Rose dead from gunshot wounds, the .22-caliber pistol lying on the bed next to the bodies. His lawyers said Entwistle believed that his wife of less than three years had killed their baby and then herself.

Attempting to keep her memory unsullied, he returned the gun to his father-in-law's home and fled to England, the lawyers contended.

But a jury of six men and six women found Entwistle guilty Wednesday of killing his family in the couple's newly rented Hopkinton house, after a three-week trial that encompassed more than 40 witnesses and 105 pieces of evidence. The defense team did not call any witnesses.

One juror, who requested anonymity, told the Globe that the jury ruled out the murder-suicide theory and came to understand in its 11 hours of deliberation that the evidence pointed to Entwistle.

Another juror, who was an alternate, said yesterday that she thought the ordeal was taxing on the families, especially when Yvonne Entwistle publicly adopted her son's murder-suicide theory and blamed Rachel for killing her granddaughter.

"I'm just horrified that the whole thing happened, and I really feel bad for both families," said juror Sylvia Carr. "I understand her wanting to protect her son, but I thought it untimely that she spoke of Rachel murdering her grandchild. I just don't think that was nice in front of the [Matterazzo] family."

In subsequent comments to Kottmyer, Matterazzo also said she and her family were not as fortunate as her daughter's killer. He, at least, she said, received a trial.

"Joe and I, our families, and Rachel's friends, students here and in England, were sentenced without the luxury of a trial by jury and now must go on with the eternity of emptiness," Matterazzo said. "Suffering does not begin to describe what we have been enduring without our beloved Rachel and Lillian, who gave our lives such purpose and meaning."

Rachel's stepfather, Joseph Matterazzo, said he believed that Neil Entwistle would one day be judged again.

"Neil, you have been judged today by a jury of your peers on earth, but one day you will face the ultimate judgment of your horrific deeds and betrayals," he said yesterday.

Jerome Souza, Rachel's brother, also read a statement while surrounded by his relatives, some who rubbed his back as he choked back tears.

"Each and every day we have to live with the heartache Neil's betrayals brought to our family," said Souza, who was in court every day during the trial with his family and a large contingent of supporters. "We were always raised to know that family comes first. But now, when the family comes to visit, we can only recount what Rachel did and speculate on what Lilly might have done."

In handing down the sentence, Kottmyer said: "These crimes are incomprehensible. They defy comprehension, because they involve the planned and deliberate murders of the defendant's wife and 9-month-old child in violation of bonds that we recognize as central to our identity as human beings, those of husband and wife and parent and child."

Neil Entwistle's facial expressions alternated between stoic and a half-grin. His face was flushed when he was sentenced.

He looked at his parents, who sat behind him during the three-week trial, and gave them a half-smile before court officers put him in handcuffs and led him away.

He was silent when Kottmyer asked him if he had anything to say.

Several members of the Matterazzo family carried single white roses and white lilies. By the time they left, tears were streaming down the faces of many, some openly sobbing.

The Entwistle family, all dressed in dark, pin-striped suits, filed past the hordes of media that were covering the trial. The family members walked back to their hotel without comment.

Neil Entwistle's father, Clifford, and his son, Russell, held on to Yvonne.

Neil Entwistle spent last night at the Cambridge Jail, where he has been housed since he was extradited from England in February 2006.

Today he will be transferred to the maximum-security Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley. There he will undergo medical and physical tests, which include obtaining a sample of his DNA, as is the case for all inmates, said Diane Wiffin, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Correction.

Neil Entwistle will also be classified according to his tests and then serve out his sentence at Souza-Baranowski or be transferred to MCI-Cedar Junction in Walpole.

Like other inmates, he will probably be placed in a single cell measuring 7 by 13 feet. Within such spaces are a toilet, sink, desk, stool, a metal bed frame attached to the wall with a mattress, and a storage footlocker, as well as a metal shelf.

There are three meals a day, and time given out of the cell, but no Internet access for inmates, Wiffin said.

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