The trial continues in the death penalty case of Joseph McEnroe, accused of killing six members of his girlfriend's family in Carnation in 2007, including two children. His girlfriend, Michele K. Anderson, is also charged with the killings.
Wednesday, McEnroe’s defense began. The first witness was King County Sheriff’s Office Detective Scott Tompkins. Detective Tompkins took Anderson’s confession on Dec. 26, 2007. Anderson and McEnroe showed back up at her parents' property two days after six members of her family where shot to death on Christmas Eve. Judy Anderson’s co-worker from the Carnation post office found the bodies, worried when Judy didn’t show up for work on Dec. 26.
Investigators purposely separated the pair and talked to them. Both spoke freely and agreed to have their interviews recorded, both kept talking even after detectives read their Miranda rights.
McEnroe’s defense attorney played Michele Anderson’s confession Wednesday. McEnroe’s confession was played by prosecutors on Feb. 8 and 9. Prosecutors were unable to play Anderson’s confession because she pleaded the Fifth when she was called as a defense witness. That decision made her confession inadmissible by prosecutors.
The defense team was able to admit the confession. Michele Anderson spent more than an hour describing how she and McEnroe stopped to tell her parents they were headed to Las Vegas to elope on Christmas Eve. Anderson sounds confused as she tries to explain why the couple returned to her Carnation mobile home, on the same property as her parents’ home. She said she came back to get a wallet and made another return trip for fruit. Detectives carefully questioned Anderson. Eventually Anderson broke down and started to cry. She told them she murdered her family, that McEnroe wasn’t there, he had nothing to do with it. Then the story begins to unravel. Anderson told detectives she shot her dad Wayne, but her gun jammed. That’s when McEnroe shot her dad, and fixed the jammed weapon. She said they both shot her dad and killed her mother, Judy. Anderson told investigators, “I shot four of those revolver shots into my brother and two into Erica and ran out of bullets. He (McEnroe) finished off Erica and the kids.” Anderson’s niece Olivia was only 5 years old, her nephew Nathan was 3.
Anderson told detectives she was mad at her parents and her brother over money. She also said her parents abused her for years. Detective Tompkins said her stories of abuse weren’t true. “No family is perfect. We did not find her claims of that degree of abuse to be true,” testified Tompkins.
During the confession Anderson told detectives, “Look, I know what you're asking me. Yes, it was premeditated; and yes, I was fed up with everything.”
Anderson admitted she and McEnroe took two guns to her parents’ house on Christmas Eve. After killing her parents they cleaned up and hid the bodies. Anderson said they waited for her brother Scott and his family and killed all four of them.
Michele Anderson told detectives she freaked out. In the taped confession you can hear detectives say that might make sense for 20 seconds, but the murders took place over two hours.
The defense claims McEnroe was under the control of Michele Anderson when he shot her family. They say McEnroe believed her stories about her abusive family to be true, and he was operating under that understanding when he killed them.
Prosecutors say that isn’t true; McEnroe knew what he was doing. If he didn’t want to be there, he could have left any time. They say he took a gun to Wayne and Judy Anderson’s house.
The defense will continue on Thursday and plans to call Michele Anderson’s ex-boyfriend.
The murders happened more than seven years ago. The trial was delayed because McEnroe tried to make a plea deal to avoid the death penalty. The prosecutor wouldn’t agree to a deal. McEnroe also tried to plead guilty by reason of insanity; the court found no proof of that.
This is a death penalty case. Even if McEnroe is convicted of six counts of aggravated first-degree murder and sentenced to death, he wouldn't be executed as long as Jay Inslee is the governor of Washington.
Michele Anderson's trial starts in the fall. Her trial was delayed because her mental competency was in question.