Convicted Carnation killer tells the jury: ‘I did it because I thought I had to…’

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Convicted killer Joseph McEnroe testifies Thursday, April 2, 2015, at his sentencing trial for the murder of six people in Carnation on Christmas Eve 2007.

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.


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  • jev eva

    I can understand how the family feels, but the truth is this man is mentally ill and should not be held to the same standards that you and I would be. I knew nothing about this case until yesterday 4/2/15 and I was guided to his testimony from a reporter on Twitter. He had just taken the stand when I started watching. Within minutes I knew there was something not right about this man, and as I listened to him speak about his life growing up I could tell this man was not lying. I know this family has been greatly effected by this horrible and tragic event but Mr. McEnroe has been effected by the way he was raised by a dysfunctional mother, and grandfather. Don’t get me wrong I’m as die hard for the Death Penalty as anyone in this country, but after watching and listening to Joe McEnroe, I totally believe that he was guided by Michele Anderson to do what he and she did. If anyone deserves mercy it’s Joe, and my heart goes out to him. I think if he had testified at his trial the jury would have seen that this man is mentally ill and there would not be a second phase to this trial. I am 66 years old and I don’t think you will have 12 people in the jury room after hearing and seeing this man that can come to a unanimous vote for the Death penalty in this case. I know If I were on this jury I would spare his life.

  • jev eva

    Joe, you have a very shallow mind, you need more education. You sound like someone with a 3rd grade education. Go away until you have more experience in life. As it stands right now, you can’t run with the big dogs. If I could get my hands on you I would Jap slap some sense into you.

    • sheila

      “Jap slap some sense into you,” what does that even mean? Regardless of the fact I don’t understand what you are trying to say (but it must be bad) my first instinct is to think that it must be a “racist remark”. No room for that mentality in my world! Furthermore, “run with the big dogs”? Are you a thug as well? I only ask because of the type of language you use when addressing others who oppose you view point. Maybe it was meant as humor, I shudder to think that you might have been serious! So much for intelligent, informed conversations of today’s issues. :(

  • Kit

    We don’t have the death penalty in WA anymore. This guy is a mess, but his girl friend is worse and now the taxpayers have to support the both of them for another 30 plus years.

    • jev eva

      Kit, I know what your saying about not having the DP in Wash. State, but based on what I’ve read I do think you have the DP, it’s just not carried out because of your Governor. The next Governor might have a different opinion about the DP and put the ones that are on death row to death as they have been judged. As to your statement “This guy is a mess, but his girl friend is worse and now the taxpayers have to support the both of them for another 30 plus years”. I totally agree with you. I am a die hard proponent for the DP, but not for someone that in mentally Ill as Joe McEnroe.
      As for Michele Anderson I think they should HANG her until dead. I think she took advantage of a man that could not discern right from wrong at that moment in time. His life has been a living hell from birth and would probably be better off dead but not killed by the State just for revenge. I have never had feelings for anybody in my life like I have for this guy base solely on what I have seen from the witness stand. Thank you for your comment. jeveva

      • sheila

        You know Jev Eva, you had me convinced that you might have a point when I read your original post. I thought your points were well thought out and may have some merit to consider….however as I continued to read other peoples posts and your disrespectful responses to those posts you lost my support. It seems that you are the one who can’t tolerate a difference of opinion and are willing to go so far as to engage in personal attacks on those who think other than the way you do. I’m open to a debate however I draw the line when my opposition has to resort to name calling and belittling others character in order to impose their own opinion. Think about it the next time you want to convince someone that you might have a point.

        • jev eva

          Sheila, thank you for your comment. I don’t’ think disrespected but 1 post and that was Joe and I was not trying to convince him or anyone else to my way of thinking. I was only making a statement. Joe’s reply was so elementary that I thought he might need some guidance. I am not a bleeding heart liberal, I think most murderers deserve the death penalty and I could pull the switch. I will take your advice tho and try to be more sensitive in the future. As for Mr. McEnroe, I think he is mentally retarded to a certain degree (although very smart) regardless what the State prosecutor says. He has been through hell since the day he was born, with a dysfunctional mother, grandfather a dozen of men that were in his home just to bed down with mom. I think it has taken a toll on him and then the girl Michele Anderson sent him over the cliff. In the United States we don’t put people like this to death. I have never felt the way I do for anybody in this world the way I feel for Joe McEnroe, and I don’t think the jury after seeing and hearing from him will vote for death. His attorney did him a dis-justice by not putting him on the stand during the trial. Had he done that I don’t think we would be having a second phase. Again, let me thank you for your comment, and I wish you a good day. jeveva

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