Prosecutors at the trial of a British man accused of killing his wife and baby daughter have presented piece after piece of evidence against him: his flight to England after their deaths, his familiarity with the gun used in the killings, his failure to attend the funerals.
Yet under questioning from Neil Entwistle's attorneys, every prosecution witness who knew the couple testified in the first week of the trial that Rachel and Neil Entwistle appeared to be in love, happily married and devoted to their 9-month-old daughter, Lillian Rose.
If so, why would he do it?
That appears to be the question Entwistle's defense attorneys hope will linger in jurors' minds as the defense seeks to debunk the allegation that Entwistle killed his family because he was in debt and dissatisfied with his sex life.
"Painting a picture of domestic bliss is a sensible and understandable defense maneuver to indicate the state of mind or lack of motive to commit this horrible crime," said Robert George, a Boston defense attorney who has followed the case closely.
A woman who visited the family five days before the killings testified that Neil Entwistle "absolutely beamed" every time his daughter cooed or gurgled.
Couple appeared happy
Even Rachel Entwistle's mother, Priscilla Matterazzo, said the couple appeared to be happy.
"They seemed to have a friendship as well as to love and respect each other," she testified.
The second week of testimony begins Monday.
Defense attorneys have sought to show that the couple were looking forward to their new life in America.
The two met at the University of York in England in 1999 while Rachel Entwistle, who grew up in Kingston, Mass., was spending a year studying abroad. After marrying in 2003, they lived in England for two years until deciding to move to the United States so their daughter could grow up near Rachel's family.
In the fall of 2005, the couple moved to Carver, Mass., to live with Rachel's mother and stepfather. Entwistle's defense lawyers, through their questions to prosecution witnesses, have attempted to show that the couple felt cramped in the house in Carver and were anxious to get out on their own in a new home in Hopkinton.
One friend, under cross-examination by defense attorney Stephanie Page, acknowledged that Rachel Entwistle had complained they had no privacy for having sex in her mother's house. "She had said that things weren't the same," said Michelle Vigneux.
"The message is, they were looking forward to a new life and he had no motive to kill them," said William Fallon, a former state prosecutor who is acting as a legal analyst on the Entwistle trial for Sky News, the British news channel.
Defense trying to debunk debt theory
The defense also has worked to debunk the prosecution's claim that Entwistle was deeply in debt. Page has repeatedly asked witnesses about the BMW the couple leased shortly before they moved to Hopkinton. The defense also made a point of asking the owner of the Hopkinton house if the couple paid her $8,100 up front for three months rent. They did.
The defense also focused on the fact that several people had access to locks to the gun case at the Matterazzo home that held the .22-caliber revolver used in the killings. Several witnesses have testified that Rachel's stepfather, Joseph Matterazzo, kept the keys to the gun case and trigger locks on a kitchen countertop. Authorities allege Entwistle took the gun out of his father-in-law's home, used it to kill his wife and daughter, then drove 50 miles to Carver and returned the gun.
In his opening statement, defense attorney Elliot Weinstein asked jurors to reserve judgment until they hear all the evidence.
"Over and over and over again during this trial, you will learn that things are not the way they first appear," he said.