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Judge rules state cannot seek death penalty in Carnation mass murder case

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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.

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  • Richard Halvorson

    Stupid Judge! If thats a elected position he needs to be run out of that seat! How the hell can that piece of crap Judge not have a heart and see these low-life monsters that killed SIX people INCLUDING 2 young children in COLD blood deserved the death penalty? I hope the judge has nightmares on this!

  • DAVE


  • Ray

    It is a Justice System and a government system designed by lawyers, for lawyers, to lawyers. This is exactly what you get when the lawyers are allowed to take charge of every single facet of our society. The county has spent $5.1 million to defend McEnroe and Anderson and another $725,000 to prosecute the pair, according to the Office of Public Defense and the prosecutor’s office. Total cost of McEnroe’s defense is at $2.4 million (as of Jan. 13th 2013-Seattle Times). Question:

    Who in the name God gave these people a blank cheque? What constraints are there to prevent these lawyers from spending $15-$20 Million on a case? The slaughter of an entire family and the rape of the taxpayers and ultimately these miscreants will be paroled to dwell among us again. If this is American style justice and democracy then we should change the system as Thomas Jefferson has proscribed. Its too expensive in terms of human lives, human misery and money. We have let the lawyers run supreme and amok. The legal profession has demonstrated that the Rule of Law is capricious and arbitrary and so incredibly expensive.

    Previously, the defense had unsuccessfully petitioned the court to rule the death penalty unconstitutional, but was successful in arranging for McEnroe to be tried first. The Washington State Supreme Court had to rule as to giving a separate trial and then the tough decision on who should be tried first. You could probably see some humor in this if the case had not been so tragic. The Court Justices delude themselves in seeking the absolute ethereal meaning and intent of the law in the process they loose their grip on reality. Its disconcerting to realize how seriously they must take of themselves when they decide who should be tried first for two accused criminals who acted in concert to commit a heinous crime at the same moment in time against the same victims in the same place.

    In case we forget: Dec. 24, 2007 a family of six were slaughtered in their home on Christmas eve. Wayne and Judy Anderson of Carnation, her brother and sister-in-law, Scott and Erica, and their 5 year-old daughter and 3 year-old son.

    When the County's budget reaches 85% solely for Criminal Justice and Public Safety will the public finally say "ENOUGH!" Would it be more expedient simply to release them on parole? When will the public speak up with one loud unmistakable voice? Perhaps when your property taxes go from $5,000. per year to $10,000. or $12,000. per year maybe they will rile a bit. Oh, sorry, I forgot what the lawyers admonish: "you can't put a price on justice." Yeah right. Got it.

  • Guest

    Well stated, Ray…it is a no win situation…and millions more of the Washington taxpayers dollars will be spent on their legal fees, keeping them alive, safe & well for the duration of their lives. Who of us wouldn't like to have $2.4 million dollars spent on us – though it is a meager existence in prison, they want for nothing in terms of provision – and for 6 murders of 3 generations of one family? Grandparents, parents & grand babies…the details are a living nightmare…RIP dear souls.