By Rob George 17/08 Updated: 17/08 09:39
THE HUSBAND of a former Redditch teacher has lost his appeal against his conviction for killing her and their nine-month old daughter.
Neil Entwistle, 33, was jailed for life in June 2008 for shooting his wife Rachel, 27, and nine-month-old daughter Lillian at their Massachusetts home in January 2006.
Rachel, who worked as a teacher at St Augustine’s Catholic High School before moving to the United States, and Lillian were found shot in the master bedroom of the family home in Hopkinton, Massachusetts on January 22.
Entwistle was charged and extradited from the UK where officers discovered he had fled the day before. He was convicted on two counts of first degree murder.
However his lawyers launched an appeal against his conviction in April and argued the former IT worker should receive a fresh trial as officers searched his home without a warrant when they came to check on his family.
Entwistle’s legal team pointed to two warrant-less searches of the home by police after officers entered the property after Rachel Entwistle’s mother and two of her friends raised concerns. Police found Rachel and Lillian’s bodies on the second visit.
They also argued that police had overstepped their authority during one search when an officer looked into a digital camera to see when the last photographs were taken.
In response, the court said the officer’s peek into the digital camera may have been unconstitutional, but ‘it proved harmless’ because all it showed was that Rachel was still alive on January 19, the last day pictures had been taken.
The court did stress warrant-less searches were ‘presumptively unreasonable’ but said there was an exception which allowed police to go into a home when they have reason to believe someone inside may be injured or in imminent danger.
In his verdict, Justice Ralph Gants of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, said: “None of the defendant’s claims on appeal warrants reversal of the convictions.
“We have reviewed the entire trial record and conclude that the defendant received a fair trial that was ably tried and judged.
“The interests of justice do not require the entry of a verdict of a lesser degree of guilt on the murder convictions or a new trial.”
In a statement Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said: “We are pleased the Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) has affirmed the conviction of Neil Entwistle for the horrific and cowardly murders of his wife and infant daughter.
“With today’s decision, the SJC has ruled the grounds of the defendant’s appeal as baseless and Neil Entwistle will continue to spend the rest of his life behind bars for the unimaginable, unforgivable acts he committed against Rachel and Baby Lillian.” he added.
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