Saturday, June 21, 2008

Ritanita on the Entwistle Murder Trial

Commonwealth of Massachusetts Medical Examiner Dr. William Zane
 testifies about Rachel's bullet wound and the path it traveled.


Logic to the Wind – by ritanita
Stephanie Page's cross-examination of Medical Examiner William Zane on Thursday, made my blood pressure go off the charts. It's natural for a defense attorney to paint an alternate picture of a case, but in this situation, Ms. Page managed to throw logic to the wind and attempt to browbeat a witness.

However, my first thoughts go to Rachel's family and friends. In her attempt to explain Neil Entwistle's "innocence", Page turned Rachel Entwistle into a baby-killer; a murderer. She further made Rachel a suicide. What a terrible thing to do to the memory of a loving daughter, sister, and friend.

Against all the testimony as to Rachel's state of mind, Page insinuated that she “might” have been suffering from postpartum depression. One wonders where this talk of depression comes from. There were no questions from Ms. Page concerning depression when she questioned her mother, her stepfather, and her friends.

Then, we can look at the forensic evidence. According to the ME, Rachel's toxicological screens came back negative for drugs of abuse and alcohol. She wasn't high; she wasn't drunk. She was a new mother with a precious child she loved.

There's the matter of the gun itself. The weapon, a 6-inch barreled target gun was presented into evidence earlier this week. Joseph Matterazzo testified that Rachel never showed any interest in the guns. He never took her out shooting. Why are we to think she would take the gun from the Carver home and kill her child and herself?

Just imagining these shootings can boggle the mind. Imagine Rachel clutching her baby to her breast and attempting to fire that gun, at that angle through the child. Physics says it can't happen. The barrel is just too long. Rachel was only 5'2'' and there is no way, that arm could reach out around the child so the bullet would also hit her in the breast. Likewise with the shot to the head. Put an imaginary gun with a 6-inch barrel to your head in the manner depicted in the chart. It's not going to happen!

Massachusetts State Police Crime Lab Forensic Chemist Deanna Dygan explains the tests she ran on the gun entered into evidence as the murder weapon, during the murder trial of Neil Entwistle at Middlesex Superior Court, in Woburn, Massachusetts, June 16, 2008

Rachel did have a few specks of gunshot residue (GSR) on her hands. Ms. Page made such a big deal about it. We learned about GSR in the Spector trial. It's unreliable. In fact, the FBI no longer tests for it. On the May 26th, 2006 Georgia Criminal Law Blog, it states, "the FBI has distanced itself from another test once regarded as a reliable test. They will no longer be performing gun shot residue analysis.” In addition, earlier testimony pointed out that gunshot residue was easily removed and transferable. The fact that there was a tiny amount of GSR on Rachel's hands, means nothing. She was shot, there was a gun in the room, and there were armed police officers in the room. For Ms. Page to attempt to indicate it was significant is totally disingenuous.

Finally, I think that, as Ron Kuby puts it, "impeachment by learned treatise" is a cheap shot. Ms. Page read pieces of information from Vincent DiMaio's book on gunshot wounds and Spitz and Fisher's tome on forensic medical investigation and asked Dr. Zane to answer, "Yes" to all the questions. When Dr. Zane answered "No," he became the target of rather acerbic comments. I only wish that the prosecutors had been able to elicit more complete explanations from this ME.

It was an awful experience to view this and I hope the jury feels the same as I do and has the wisdom to see the facts - not the things that definitely are what they seem to be.

Thank you very much ritanita!


Sprocket said...

Excellent entry ritanita! Well done!

donchais said...

ritanita – thank you so much for putting into such consice and thoughtful words what so many of us have been thinking!!!

Anonymous said...

Your entry could not have said it any better. The defense team should be ashamed of themselves for putting the suicide/murder theory out there. The family has been through enough and this just adds insult to their terrible loss.

Anonymous said...

ritanita--Excellent commentary and an accurate depiction of Stephanie Page. They realize they have no case and will not stop at just one alternate theory when they can throw so many out to try and confuse the jury. They look desperate, you can see it in their faces; it must be painful for them to put all that effort (and the commonwealths money) into defending a waste of flesh such as Neil Entwistle. Oh wait - they are getting hundreds of dollars per hour of the taxpayers money, so I guess its in their best interest to keep this circus going as long as possible. As to her obvious lack of research into the case, she seems like the type that reads two pages and says shes read/understood the book; its pretty clear that neither her not her co-council have half a clue as to what they are talking about on almost all of the subjects they have had to cross on.

Geralyn said...

Beth Karas gave a good theory so I hope the prosecution is paying of Rachael's hands was near the gs to her head and the other was across baby Lilly's chest. This means her hands were near places on their bodies where, imo, the minuscule amount of gsr was found.

I cannot believe as a Massachusetts tax payer that I have to pay for Ms.Page to come up with outrageous. lies against a woman who by all accounts was a loving mother and wife.

Anonymous said...

This 6” Colt Diamondback .22 revolver (a collector’s item since they are difficult to find anywhere) would only emit a tiny bit of GSW unlike the Colt Cobra .38 involved in the Spector.

On its face this shot to the head is very doubtful but not impossible to be self-inflicted.

The Spector case looks like a suicide or the Clarkson woman was drunk and clowing around when she shot herself by accident. I don't buy murder beyond a reasobable doubt.

Sprocket said...

During the first murder trial I attended, the Robert Blake case, GSR was a big issue. The prosecution went to the unusual step of having the LA County coroner's office test Blake's clothing for GSR. This is highly unusual because GSR is so fickle when it comes to adhering to clothing. Clothing is never tested. There are no standards to test clothing; it's never recommended to determine anything. They were grasping at straws trying to tie any piece of evidence they could to Blake. (Personally, I thought his pre- and post-incident behavior was more damning of guilt than any potential GSR, but I digress.)

It's pretty clear to most laypersons that the only thing you can determine now from testing an individual or a decedent's hands for GSR, is that they were in the vicinity of a discharged firearm.

It remains to be seen if the prosecution will address the GSR found on Rachael in their rebuttal case.