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BRITON Neil Entwistle goes on trial in the US today, accused of murdering his American wife and baby.
The first few days of the hearing are expected to be taken up with legal arguments and selecting the jury.
Entwistle is charged with shooting dead his 27-year-old wife Rachel and their nine-month-old daughter Lillian Rose at their home in Hopkinton, Massachusetts on January 20, 2006.
Up to 150 potential jurors will begin the selection process in front of judge Diane Kottmyer at the Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn, Massachusetts, ahead of the trial, which is expected to last three weeks.
Entwistle, a 29-year-old former IT worker originally from Worksop, Nottinghamshire, denies two counts of murder and related gun charges — carrying a firearm without a licence and possession of a firearm without a federal ID card.
Prosecutors believe Entwistle shot and killed his wife and daughter in the house they were renting before fleeing the US for his parents’ home in Worksop the following morning.
He entered not guilty pleas at Framingham District Court in February 2006.
According to court papers, prosecutors believe Entwistle ran up debts of tens of thousands of pounds before the murders — his internet businesses had failed and he had no visible means of support.
He also allegedly searched the internet for information on how to kill people and commit suicide days before his wife and daughter were shot.
Entwistle has told police he panicked and fled the US for his parents’ house in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, after finding the bodies.
He was arrested on February 9, 2006, at the Royal Oak underground station in London, and was transported back to the US, escorted by US marshals, on February 15. He was refused bail.
Elliot Weintein, defending, has said his client could not get a fair trial in the US because of media interest in the case.
Rachel’s US mother, Priscilla, and stepfather, Joseph Matterazzo, have accused their son-in-law of an “unbearable” betrayal.
Entwistle faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted of the double murder.
Entwistle’s defence lies in the hands of a cowboy boot-wearing lawyer who has built a reputation as a formidable operator who relies on meticulous preparation and a self-assured but calm courtroom presence to win cases.
Elliot Weinstein is described by colleagues as a man who is highly articulate yet never abrasive as he makes a case.
The distinguished-looking 59-year-old, whose only visible of sign of flamboyance is the pair of cowboy boots he twins with a suit in court, secured his first acquittal when he was still a law student in his 20s.
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