Call to halt Entwistle murder trial over 'fry him' claims

Lawyers defending Briton Neil Entwistle over the murders of his wife and baby daughter called for the trial to be dismissed yesterday after a potential juror said she overheard other jurors saying: "Fry him, send him away".

Elliot Weinstein told Judge Diane Kottmyer that the revelation showed Entwistle could not get a fair trial at the Middlesex County Superior Court in Woburn, Massachusetts, and called for the proceedings to be dismissed because the jury pool had been "infected".

The 29-year-old former IT worker denies shooting dead his 27-year-old American wife Rachel and their nine-month-old daughter Lillian Rose at their Hopkinton home in Massachusetts on January 20, 2006.

But Judge Kottmyer said the jurors who had been selected had shown they were fair and impartial and denied the motion.

Juror number 161 told the court she was standing in the queue for jury selection when she overheard others saying: "Fry him, send him away."

Outside court, the woman, who did not want to be named, told reporters she thought her fellow jurors had made the comments in a "light-hearted" manner.

Six women and three men were chosen from a pool of 24 qualified jurors to sit on the trial jury before the process of assessing if the remaining potential jurors would be able to be "fair and impartial" continued.

The prosecution asked for five members of the panel to be excused, while the defence challenged seven. A further juror was excused because it emerged she knew one of the court officers and two others remain in the pool.

Earlier, Entwistle's parents arrived in court after telling reporters on Tuesday that their son was "100 per cent innocent".

Yesterday his mother, Yvonne, of Kilton, Worksop, Notts, blew Entwistle a kiss from the back of the court as he smiled and took his seat next to his legal team.

Mrs Entwistle was sat with her husband, Bassetlaw district councillor Cliff, and their other son Russell on the front row of the public gallery.

Mr Weinstein has repeatedly criticised the jury selection process and the way in which the judge has questioned the 165 potential jurors.

"I am reinforced on a juror-by-juror basis that we cannot get that fair trial," he said on Tuesday.

Several other jurors have been excused after stating that they felt Entwistle was guilty.

One man said: "I think he's guilty. I've seen too much, read too much."

Entwistle denies two counts of murder and related gun charges.

Prosecutors say Entwistle shot and killed his wife and daughter in the house they were renting in Hopkinton before fleeing the US for his parents' home in Worksop.

He faces life in prison without parole if convicted of the double murder.