Justices OK pursuit of death penalty in Carnation case

OLYMPIA — The state Supreme Court says prosecutors can seek the death penalty against two people accused of killing a family of six in Carnation on Christmas Eve 2007.

In a unanimous decision Thursday, the justices said King County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell was wrong to bar Prosecutor Dan Satterberg from pursuing capital punishment for Michele Anderson and her former boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe.

The two are charged with aggravated first-degree murder in the slaughter of Anderson’s family — her parents, brother, sister-in-law, and her young niece and nephew.

Their lawyers argued that in deciding whether to seek death, Satterberg improperly considered the strength of his case — rather than only whether there was mitigating evidence that should warrant leniency. The lower court judge agreed.

But the justices said that argument made little sense. The court ruled that prosecutors may consider how strong their case is, as long as they also consider any mitigating factors.

“Prosecutors, in exercising their executive functions, better serve the public by holistically considering all facts and circumstances related to the crime, which, realistically, include the strength of evidence,” Justice Charles Wiggins wrote for the court. “Given the time and expense it takes to prepare and try a capital case, it makes good sense for a prosecutor to seek the death penalty only when the prosecutor believes there is a good chance of obtaining a conviction.”

Satterberg said in a written statement his office planned to ask Ramsdell to summon jurors for a trial to begin this fall.

“We are pleased that the Washington State Supreme Court expeditiously considered our appeal and has permitted this case to proceed to trial with all sentencing options available under state law,” Satterberg said.

More in Local News

A wobbly calf grows into a 1,800-pound Lake Stevens behemoth

A shaggy and sometimes cranky bison is the last of his herd. He lives amid encroaching suburbia.

Elderly couple escape serious injuries in crash with train

The driver drove down tracks instead of a road, hitting a slow-moving train near Stanwood.

Officials ID man shot and killed in apparent Everett robbery

Police believe the victim may have known the shooter, who drove away before the officers arrived.

Man, 60, in critical condition after Bothell crash

Police believe the driver may have been speeding when he hit a rock wall.

Missing Marysville woman found safe out of state

A Marysville senior who was reported missing in March has… Continue reading

FBI operation arrests 3 linked to exploitation of 32 women

The sting focused on Everett and other cities in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Skagit and Spokane counties.

Front Porch

EVENTS Seahawks event postponed A Toys for Tots Blue Friday fundraiser that… Continue reading

Man arrested in Monroe Walmart robbery; second suspect flees

The pair fled in a stolen Mitsubishi Lancer with a distinctive green spray paint job.

Dead boy’s ‘gentle giant’ uncle helped search, then confessed

Andrew Henckel, 19, of Texas, said he planned the drowning of Dayvid Pakko, 6. His bail is $1 million.

Most Read