Video: New twist in Entwistle murders

By MSNBC Senior Legal Analyst
updated 10/6/2006 2:17:10 PM ET 2006-10-06T18:17:10
LEGAL ANALYSIS

Despite overwhelming evidence against Neil Entwistle, the British man accused of murdering his wife and baby daughter in Massachusetts last January, he is fighting the Middlesex District Attorney's request for a sample of his DNA.   The prosecution's motion is sealed, presumably because Entwistle's attorney has argued that because of the enormous pre-trial publicity, his client will not be able to get a fair trial.  

While we do not know the reasons the D.A. is seeking the DNA, nor do we know why the defense objects, I can guess.   The prosecutor wants the DNA because it may provide crucial evidence linking Entwistle to the crime.   But if Entwistle is as not guilty as he claims, then why not give up the DNA sample and exonerate himself?   Because the DNA will incriminate him. 

According to a police affidavit, investigators found Entwistle's DNA on a .22 caliber pistol -- the same pistol he allegedly used to kill his wife, Rachel, and daughter, Lillian Rose, in their home.   Rachel Entwistle's DNA was found on the muzzle of that gun, and Neil Entwistle's on the handgrip.  Police searched the Entwistle's home after relatives complained that they had not heard from Rachel, 27, and Lillian Rose, 9 months old.   Their bodies were found together in the master bedroom, on the bed, under blankets. 

Entwistle fled to England right about the time his wife and daughter were discovered murdered.   He was arrested in London and waived extradition.  

It appeared at first, that Entwistle had no possible defense and had plenty of motive.   There was direct physical evidence linking him to the crime and a mountain of circumstantial evidence pointing to his guilt, notably, his quick trip to England.   Prosecutors call immediate flight after the commission of a crime "consciousness of guilt."  Entwistle told police that he was out running an errand, came home, found his wife and daughter dead, covered them with blankets, and then left again.   He also told police he was contemplating suicide with a knife. 

A search of his computer revealed that he had been surfing suicide sites just before the murders.   Perhaps he intended to kill his wife and daughter, and then himself, but chickened out at the last minute.   As for motive, Entwistle's life was falling apart.   He was plagued by problems, financial and marital.  He was involved in several failed get-rich-quick schemes, some of which were linked to adult websites about swingers and penis enlargement.   The couple's financial difficulties were apparently kept hidden from Rachel.  And Rachel's own parents thought their son-in-law was a secret government agent.

In an odd and tragic twist to the case, Entwistle allegedly snuck into his in-laws home, and stole the handgun which he used to murder their daughter and granddaughter, and then put the gun back where he got it from.   The next day, Rachel's father allegedly used the same gun, thus perhaps contaminating some of the evidence against Entwistle. 

My prediction:  The court will order Entwistle to give up his DNA.  He will either plead guilty at the last minute, or will be convicted by a jury.  Either way, Entwistle will spend the rest of his life in prison.

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