BOSTON — The highest court in Massachusetts rejected the appeal of a British man convicted of killing his wife and baby daughter in their rented home, saying in its decision released Tuesday that warrantless searches of the home were justified because those inside might have been in danger.
In arguing for a new trial, lawyers for Neil Entwistle said evidence obtained during the warrantless searches of the Hopkinton home while police were looking for the missing family should have been dismissed at trial.
They also argued he was denied a fair trial, claiming that “saturating and inflammatory” media coverage tainted the jury pool and the judge refused to question prospective jurors more deeply about how publicity may have biased them.
The court rejected the arguments, concluding that Entwistle “received a fair trial that was ably tried and judged.”
Entwistle was convicted of the 2006 shootings of his wife, Rachel, and their daughter, 9-month-old Lillian. He is serving life in prison without the possibility of parole for their murders.
Rachel Entwistle’s mother and stepfather, Priscilla and Joseph Matterazzo, said Tuesday through a spokesman that the court’s decision reaffirmed their faith in the judicial system.
Attorney Joe Flaherty, a family friend and retired Massachusetts State Police homicide unit supervisor, said the Matterazzos didn’t want to go through the nightmare of another trial. He said they’ll continue to honor their loved ones’ memories through a nonprofit they formed to raise awareness about domestic violence and child abuse.
Prosecutors were pleased the Supreme Judicial Court affirmed Entwistle’s conviction and found grounds of his appeal baseless, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said in a statement Tuesday.
“Neil Entwistle will continue to spend the rest of his life behind bars for the unimaginable, unforgiveable acts he committed against Rachel and baby Lillian,” the statement also read in part.
Entwistle’s attorney did not immediately return messages seeking comment Tuesday.
The Entwistles met as students at the University of York in England in 1999, while Rachel was in a study abroad program. Both were on the university’s crew team.
The two married in England in 2003 after she graduated from College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts and returned to the United Kingdom to earn a teaching certificate and be with Entwistle.
Months after their daughter’s birth, the couple came to Massachusetts to live. At first, they lived with Rachel’s parents.
The couple rented their own four-bedroom home in January 2006, but Neil Entwistle was unable to find a job. Prosecutors argued at trial that he killed his wife and daughter because he was upset about his failure to find employment and growing debt.
Rachel Entwistle’s parents and the couple’s friends had expressed concerns that the family of three was missing for days, and police found the wife and daughter dead in the home’s master bedroom on Jan. 22, 2006, while doing a second search of the home.
Neil Entwistle took a one-way flight from Boston to London on Jan. 21, later telling police he found his wife and baby dead on Jan. 20 after returning from shopping, but didn’t call for help.