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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

January 20, 2015 at 9:28 AM

McEnroe ‘loved’ family he killed but was coerced, attorney says

Joseph McEnroe walks into court Tuesday morning before the start of his trial. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

Joseph McEnroe walks into court Tuesday morning before the start of his trial. (Ellen M. Banner / The Seattle Times)

Update at 2:40 p.m.:

Joseph McEnroe’s defense attorney told jurors during his opening statement that McEnroe was coerced into killing the Anderson family by his mentally ill girlfriend.

“Joe did love the Andersons; he loved Wayne and Judy. He really liked Michele’s niece and nephew and truly liked children, but over the years Michele would dominate Joe’s life, thoughts and actions.”

Defense attorney Leo Hamaji said McEnroe had a difficult upbringing and was raised by an unstable mother. After meeting Michele Anderson online, she became his entire life.

“By the time he met Michele he thought he had met his partner for life,” Hamaji said. “She was his whole world. He would not argue, he would not fight, he would not judge. He would accept all of his partner’s frailties.”

In his 30-minute opening statement, Hamaji asked jurors to keep an open mind and acknowledge that while his client and Anderson committed the slayings, his client did not have “the psychological wherewithal” to escape Michele Anderson’s coercion.

“He did not premeditate this,” Hamaji said.

Pam Mantle, whose daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren were among the six victims, was the first witness to take the stand.

The Snohomish County woman talked about the Anderson family, about her daughter’s relationship with her husband and her grandchildren. She was asked by King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Scott O’Toole to identify the victims in photos shown to the jury.

Update at 11 a.m.:

During his opening statement Tuesday morning, King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Scott O’Toole presented graphic details about the slayings of six members of a family in Carnation on Christmas Eve 2007.

O’Toole warned jurors they will hear difficult-to-handle information during the trial of accused killer Joseph McEnroe. He said nothing they’ll hear will explain the “callousness” and “senselessness” of the slayings.

Wayne and Judy Anderson; their son Scott and his wife, Erica Anderson; and the younger couple’s children, 5-year-old Olivia and 3-year-old Nathan, were fatally shot during a holiday gathering. McEnroe and his former girlfriend Michele Anderson, Wayne and Judy Anderson’s daughter, are accused of the slayings.

O’Toole attributed the motive to Michele Anderson feeling slighted by her family and being convinced that her brother, Scott, owed her money.

“In all, at least 16 rounds were fired by the defendants inside the Anderson home,” O’Toole told the jury. “There is no doubt the person who committed these crimes is seated in this courtroom, and his name is Joe McEnroe.”

As O’Toole discussed McEnroe killing Olivia, 5, and Nathan, 3, while their mother, Erica Anderson, tried to protect them, jurors and people seated in the gallery dabbed their eyes. Seated in court were relatives of the six victims, Erica Anderson’s parents, Pam and Tony Mantle, and Mary Victoria Anderson, Wayne and Judy Anderson’s eldest child.

McEnroe and Michele Anderson are each charged with aggravated murder and could face the death penalty if convicted. If found guilty after the criminal trial, McEnroe’s case will proceed to a penalty phase, when the same jury will determine whether he should be executed or face life in prison without parole.

Anderson will be tried after McEnroe.

O’Toole’s opening statement lasted about 90 minutes. Defense attorney Leo Hamaji is slated to give his opening statement Tuesday afternoon.

ORIGINAL POST:

Opening statements began Tuesday morning in the trial of Joseph McEnroe, accused of killing six members of his ex-girlfriend’s family on Christmas Eve 2007 in Carnation. If convicted by the King County Superior Court jury, McEnroe faces a possible death penalty.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Scott O’Toole is giving the opening statement for the prosecution. The defense’s opening statement will be Tuesday afternoon.

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

McEnroe and Michele Anderson are accused of shooting 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. McEnroe and Anderson are charged with aggravated murder, and if convicted they face one of two fates: life in prison without parole or the death penalty.

Anderson will be tried after McEnroe.

According to documents released by the sheriff’s office shortly after the slayings: At around 5 p.m. Dec. 24, 2007, Anderson and McEnroe walked about 200 yards from their mobile home where they lived on her parents’ rural property, to Wayne and Judy Anderson’s home. Shortly after arriving, the report says, Anderson shot her father, 60, with a 9-mm handgun and McEnroe shot him with a .357-caliber Magnum handgun. McEnroe then shot Judith Anderson, 61, twice, according to the sheriff’s office.

The suspects then dragged the bodies to a backyard shed to hide them, the sheriff’s report states.

Soon after, her brother arrived with his wife and two children for a Christmas Eve dinner. McEnroe shot the couple, then shot both children in the head, according to the report.

Anderson also shot her brother and his wife, investigators believe. Scott and Erica Anderson were killed because they were potential witnesses to the slayings of Wayne and Judith Anderson, the sheriff’s office said.

The bodies were discovered by one of Judy Anderson’s co-workers, who arrived to check on her well-being after she failed to show up for work as a Carnation mail carrier, according to the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office said that Anderson and McEnroe were planning to escape to Canada but were arrested after showing up at the crime scene, a wooded property about 3 miles from downtown Carnation.

In the more than seven years since the suspects were arrested, the cost of defending and prosecuting Anderson and McEnroe has reached nearly $10 million;  more than $8 million of that has been in defense costs, according to the King County Department of Public Defense.

Anderson is slated to be tried after McEnroe’s trial.

 

 

 

 

Comments | More in The Blotter | Topics: Carnation homicides, death penalty, Joseph McEnroe

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