SEATTLE -- King County's prosecutor announced Wednesday he will not seek the death penalty against a woman charged with killing six members of her family in Carnation on Christmas Eve 2007.
Michele Anderson’s trial is still expected to start this fall.
The state’s decision to pull the death penalty off the table boils down to what happened to Joe McEnroe, her former boyfriend who was recently convicted of the murders and sentenced to life in prison without parole.
“I thought the premeditated murder of six people, including two small children, qualified as one of the worst crimes,” King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said.
Those shot to death more than seven years ago were Michele`s parents, Wayne and Judy Anderson, her brother Scott Anderson, sister-in-law Erica Anderson and their two children, Nathan and Olivia.
In explaining why he decided not to seek the death penalty, Satterberg said, “The only motivation for this action is that McEnroe received a life sentence."
In March, a jury convicted McEnroe for his part in the murders.
“It was McEnroe who turned the gun on the children and killed them at close range,” Satterberg said.
Prosecutors said he shot all but Michele's brother.
Satterberg said his office did not try to get a guilty plea from Michele in exchange for withdrawing the death penalty.
“I would not try to use the death penalty as a plea bargaining chip; it’s much too powerful of a tool and that kind of practice can lead to injustice,” Satterberg said.
The victims' family members say they support the state's decision. Erica Anderson's mother, Pam Mantle, is relieved the painful process will be shorter.
“We don’t have to relive all the details of that horrible Christmas Eve when my family was murdered,” Mantle said.
Those against capital punishment are calling the announcement a victory.
King County public defender Lorinda Youngcourt released a statement that reads, in part: “I’ve watched counties both small and large struggle with these costs; it’s not how we should be spending our precious public resources.”
The cases against McEnroe and Michele Anderson have cost taxpayers more than $10 million so far, but Satterberg says the decision not to seek the death penalty isn’t based on money but justice.