Convicted Carnation killer tells the jury: ‘I did it because I thought I had to…’
SEATTLE — For the first time, Carnation killer Joseph McEnroe took the stand Thursday and tried to explain what led him to help gun down six members of his girlfriend’s family, including two young children.
“I did it because I thought I had to, and I know that’s not a very good excuse, but I am not trying to excuse myself. I am trying to explain my actions,” McEnroe told the jury at his sentencing trial.
McEnroe was convicted of murder by the same jury last week. The defense has argued that McEnroe suffers from mental illness and should not be put to death.
“I am not a confrontational person. I don’t like hurting people or fighting or even arguing,” McEnroe said.
He testified that his then-girlfriend, Michele Anderson, convinced him they needed to kill her parents, Wayne and Judy Anderson; her brother, Scott Anderson, and his wife, Erica; and Scott and Erica's two young kids, Olivia and Nathan.
The six were shot to death in the family home in Carnation on Christmas Eve 2007.
“The awful part about it is the realization we were completely wrong, we were not in danger (from her family) at any point,” McEnroe said.
The defense contends Michele Anderson controlled McEnroe.
Asked if he was angry at anyone, McEnroe said, “The only person I would be angry at is myself because of what I took from these people -- not just their lives, (but) their future, their hopes and dreams,”
Outside the courtroom, Erica's mother, Pam Mantle, said, “I don’t buy that he ever was (under Michele's control), I think he wanted to do this.”
The victims' family members said the killers were angry over money and they did not believe McEnroe's words of remorse in court Thursday.
McEnroe was on the stand for about five hours. He talked about the murders but mostly recalled what he said was his unstable childhood growing up with an non-supportive mother.
He also described an incident where he tried to kill himself as a teenager.
The defense hopes his testimony will sway jurors to give him life without parole instead of the death penalty.
Michele Anderson's murder trial will be held later.