Two newspaper reporters summoned by a defense lawyer in the Neil Entwistle murder case have asked a judge to quash the summonses. Entwistle has summoned, through his attorney, the two reporters because they wrote a story about a confidential letter written by Entwistle to his lawyers.
Two newspaper reporters summoned by a defense lawyer in the Neil Entwistle murder case have asked a judge to quash the summonses.
Neil Entwistle, 29, is accused of killing his wife, Rachel, 27, and 9-month-old daughter Lillian Rose in Hopkinton, Mass., two years ago. He summoned, through attorney Elliot Weinstein, the two reporters because they wrote a story about a confidential letter written by Entwistle to his lawyers.
Former Boston Herald reporter Michele McPhee, currently a talk show host at WTKK, and current Boston Herald reporter Laurel Sweet co-authored a story Nov. 15, 2007, about the letter found in Entwistle's jail cell that hints at suicide.
Weinstein wants the pair to testify May 30, the last day of pretrial motions before the scheduled start of the jury trial June 2.
In a motion to quash the summonses, filed Friday in Middlesex Superior Court, lawyers Elizabeth Ritvo and Benjamin McPhee, representing the Herald, Sweet and McPhee, argue that the information came from two confidential sources.
"The court should quash the summons to Ms. McPhee on the separate ground that the defendant impermissibly seek disclosure of Ms. McPhee's confidential sources," the complaint reads.
The complaint says the summonses threatens to undercut the First Amendment rights of the two reporters and hampers the ability of journalists to do their jobs.
"In order for reporters to function effectively, it is essential that they appear to those they interview and to their audiences as independent of the judicial process," the complaint reads.
Massachusetts is one of the few states that does not have a shield law protecting journalists and their sources.
Weinstein could not be reached for comment, but in an article published May 20 in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly he's quoted as saying, "We are trying to discern how it (the letter) got into the public domain, and we are also trying to determine if anybody connected with the prosecution is responsible for that letter reaching what turned out to be a print story in the Boston Herald."
It is unclear when and if Judge Diane Kottmyer will decide on the motion. She was not in court Friday.
Entwistle is accused of shooting his wife and daughter Jan. 20, 2006, to hide a life of debt and online business scams. He is being held without bail at the Middlesex Jail in Cambridge, Mass.
If convicted of first-degree murder, he would be sentenced to life in prison without the chance of parole.
MetroWest Daily News writer Norman Miller can be reached at 508-626-3823 or firstname.lastname@example.org.