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February 5, 2013 at 10:46 AM

State Supreme Court to review death penalty ruling in Carnation case

The state Supreme Court will review last week’s ruling by a King County Superior Court judge that bars prosecutors from seeking the death penalty against a man and woman accused of killing a family of six on Christmas Eve 2007 in Carnation.

The King County Prosecutor’s Office on Monday appealed the decision by Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell to the state Court of Appeals. Soon after arriving at the Court of Appeals, the prosecutor’s motion was handed up to the Supreme Court, said Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff for the prosecutor’s office.

“A panel of the court has reviewed this case prior to argument and has determined that it involves an issue of broad public import which requires prompt and ultimate determination,” the Court of Appeals wrote in sending the appeal to the Supreme Court.

It’s unclear when the case will be heard by the Supreme Court. However, one source said the trials for the defendants, Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe, will almost certainly be delayed as a result of the appeal. McEnroe was scheduled to be tried later this month; Anderson’s trial has not been scheduled.

In his ruling, Ramsdell said King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg “erred as a matter of law” in announcing he would seek the death penalty against Anderson and McEnroe, her former boyfriend, who are charged with six counts of aggravated first-degree murder.

Ramsdell’s ruling says that while Satterberg properly considered “the facts and circumstances” of the crimes, the prosecutor erroneously considered the strength of the state’s evidence against McEnroe and Anderson in deciding whether to seek the death penalty.

The judge wrote in his 13-page order that prosecutors should only have weighed whether mitigating circumstances existed in the decision to seek the death penalty.

Satterberg’s office, in its appeal, called Ramsdell’s ruling premature and said it violates the separation of powers doctrine, and represents a “failure of logic.”

On Tuesday, Kathryn Ross, one of McEnroe’s defense lawyers, said she agrees that Satterberg’s appeal should be heard before the state Supreme Court.

“It was puzzling the State filed their motion in the Court of Appeals in the first place.  The Supreme Court is the appropriate court to resolve issues related to the death penalty.  The Supreme Court will now decide whether or not they will review the trial court’s decision,” Ross wrote in an email.

Anderson and McEnroe were arrested shortly after six members of Anderson’s family were found slain in her parents’ Carnation-area home. Killed were her parents, Wayne and Judy Anderson; her brother and his wife, Scott and Erica Anderson; and that couple’s children, 5-year-old Olivia and 3-year-old Nathan.

The crimes were motivated by money, family strife and a concern over leaving behind witnesses, according to the King County Sheriff’s Office.


Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Carnation slayings, Court of Appeals, Washington State Supreme Court


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