Story Summary

Mass murder in Carnation

Michelle Anderson and her ex-boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe, are charged with killing Anderson’s parents, Wayne Anderson, 60, and Judith Anderson, 61; her brother, Scott, and his wife, Erica, both 32; and the couple’s two children, Olivia, 5, and Nathan, 3, inside the elder Andersons’ Carnation home on Christmas Eve 2007. Detectives said Michele Anderson told them she helped kill them because her brother owed her money and she was upset because her parents did not take her side.

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SEATTLE — In a bid to avoid the death penalty, accused killer Joseph McEnroe entered an unusual guilty plea in the slaying of six people in a Carnation home in 2007.

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Joseph McEnroe, right, has pleaded guilty to the murder of six people in a home in Carnation in 2007

McEnroe on Monday pleaded guilty to “non-capital, aggravated murder,” his attorney said Thursday.  She said the court has not decided whether to accept the plea. Apparently, there is no such charge as “non-capital, aggravated murder,”

A deputy prosecutor said McEnroe will not decide his penalty and may oppose the change in plea.

McEnroe and his girlfriend, Michele Anderson, are charged with killing six people — Anderson’s parents, brother, sister-in-law and the younger couple’s two preschool-aged children — on Christmas Eve 2007.

carnation1SEATTLE — The state Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors can again seek the death penalty against the Carnation couple accused of slaying six people on Christmas Eve 2007.

Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe face the death penalty if convicted of killing Anderson’s parents, brother, sister-in-law and the younger couple’s two preschool-aged children.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg previously sought the death penalty, but it was thrown out after King County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell ruled in January that prosecutors took improper steps in deciding to seek capitol punishment. Ramsdell ruled that Satterberg “erroneously considered” the state’s evidence against McEnroe and Anderson when he went after the death penalty, the Times reported.  Defense attorneys argued that there was significant evidence arguing leniency on the two charged — such as an extreme mental disturbance prior to the crime — and Satterberg should have declined to seek such a high penalty because of the suspects’ circumstances.

But in a unanimous ruling in the Supreme Court early this week, judges determined that Satterberg acted within legal structures in deciding to seek the death penalty. Satterberg announced Thursday he was pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“We are pleased that the Washington State Supreme Court expeditiously considered our appeal and has permitted this case to proceed to trial with all the sentencing options available under State law,” Satterberg said. “The court ruled that prosecutors may consider the strength of the case in determining whether to file a notice of special sentencing proceeding seeking the death penalty.”

The trial in the 2007 murders is expected to begin shortly.

carnationSEATTLE — In January, a King County Superior Court judge ruled that the state cannot seek the death penalty against a couple accused of killing a family of six. Friday, the state Supreme Court granted a hearing after an appeal was filed by the King County Prosecutor’s Office, which wants to pursue the death penalty in the case.

The hearing has been set for May 9.

Michelle Anderson and her ex-boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe, are charged with killing Anderson’s parents, Wayne Anderson, 60, and Judith Anderson, 61; her brother, Scott, and his wife, Erica, both 32; and the couple’s two children, Olivia, 5, and Nathan, 3, inside the elder Andersons’ Carnation home on Christmas Eve 2007. Detectives said Michele Anderson told them she helped kill them because her brother owed her money and she was upset because her parents did not take her side.

carnationSEATTLE — King County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell on Thursday ruled the state cannot seek the death penalty against the couple accused of killing a family of six in Carnation on Christmas Eve 2007.

In a 13-page order, Ramsdell ruled that the King County Prosecutor’s Office made a mistake in considering the strength of its evidence in deciding to seek the death penalty against Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe, The Seattle Times said. The judge added that strength of evidence in finding guilt cannot be applied to seeking the death penalty.

Prosecutor Dan Satterberg issued a statement: “We will appeal today’s decision to remove the death penalty in this case. We believe it is wrong. We will appeal on behalf of the six lives lost in this crime and because of the potential impact on all aggravated murder cases throughout the state – past, present and future.”

Anderson and her ex-boyfriend, McEnroe, are charged with killing Anderson’s parents, Wayne Anderson, 60, and Judith Anderson, 61; her brother, Scott, and his wife, Erica, both 32; and the couple’s two children, Olivia, 5, and Nathan, 3, inside the elder Andersons’ Carnation home.

Detectives said Michele Anderson told them she helped kill them because her brother owed her money and she was upset because her parents did not take her side.

She told reporters in 2010 that she was guilty and that she deserved to die, but her lawyer said later she no longer wants to be executed.

Her lawyer, Stephan Illa, said that Satterberg is making a costly mistake in deciding to seek the death penalty against Anderson and McEnroe if they are convicted of aggravated murder.

Satterberg said the magnitude of the crime requires that a jury have the option of execution.

carnationSEATTLE — A judge has decided to let the prosecutor’s death penalty notice stand in the case of Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe, accused of killing six members of Anderson’s family in Carnation on Christmas Eve 2007, the court announced Monday.

The defense had asked Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell to dismiss the King County prosecutor’s death penalty notice on the grounds the death penalty is unconstitutional.

The notice means the jury, if it convicts the defendants, can consider the death penalty as punishment. The murder trial is scheduled to begin May 4.

Ramsdell held a status hearing on the defense request to dismiss the death penalty notice last Wednesday; the court announced his decision Monday.

Anderson and her ex-boyfriend, McEnroe, are charged with killing Anderson’s parents, Wayne Anderson, 60, and Judith Anderson, 61; her brother, Scott, and his wife, Erica, both 32; and the couple’s two children, Olivia, 5, and Nathan, 3, inside the elder Andersons’ Carnation home.

Detectives said Michele Anderson told them she helped kill them because her brother owed her money and she was upset because her parents did not take her side.

She told reporters in 2010 that she was guilty and that she deserved to die, but her lawer said later she no longer wants to be executed.

Her lawyer, Stephan Illa, said that King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg is making a costly mistake in deciding to seek the death penalty against Anderson and McEnroe if they are convicted of aggravated murder.

Satterberg said the magnitude of the crime requires that a jury have the option of execution.

As of Monday, there are eight men on death row in Washington state. The last execution in the state, by lethal injection, was in September 2010.

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