The state Supreme Court said it will hear an appeal filed by the King County Prosecutor’s Office after a judge tossed out the death penalty in the case of a former couple accused of killing six people on Christmas Eve 2007.
The high court said it will hear arguments in the case on May 9.
The trials of Joseph McEnroe and Michele Anderson have been on hold since January, when King County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell ruled that prosecutors could not seek the death penalty.
Ramsdell, in his ruling, found that Prosecutor Dan Satterberg erroneously considered the strength of the state’s evidence against McEnroe and Anderson in deciding whether to seek the death penalty. Ramsdell said 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.”
The trial delays will add to King County’s mounting costs to prosecute and defend the alleged killers, which is approaching $6 million. McEnroe, 34, was slated to be tried this month.
Anderson, 34, and McEnroe, her former boyfriend, 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.
Both have pleaded not guilty.