Court rules alleged Carnation killers can face death penalty

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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.

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