A King County Superior Court judge has ignited a firestorm by ruling Thursday that the death penalty is off the table in a case against two people who are awaiting trial more than five years after allegedly slaughtering a Carnation family on Christmas Eve 2007.
Jailed as suspects in the brutal crime are Joseph McEnroe and his ex-girlfriend, Michele Anderson. It was her parents, Wayne and Judith Anderson, plus her brother and sister-in-law, Scott and Erica Anderson, and their toddlers, Olivia, 5, and Nathan, 3, who died that night.
For all the legal terminology, this is essentially a situation where McEnroe and Anderson may escape the death penalty because of a legal technicality. Judge Ramsdell said in his order that prosecutors in the office of King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg made a mistake when the initially decided to seek the death penalty and how they went about it.
Satterberg is not a happy camper, and neither are the citizens who think that if any crime deserved the death sentence, the Carnation massacre would be that case. He has issued the following statement:
“We are deeply sympathetic to the families that have waited more than five years for this case to go to trial.
“We will appeal today’s decision to remove the death penalty in this case. We believe it is wrong. We will appeal on behalf of the six lives lost in this crime and because of the potential impact on all aggravated murder cases throughout the state - past, present and future.—King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg
At the time, McEnroe and Anderson lived in a trailer on her parents’ property. The Times recalled that the killings allegedly were committed because Anderson was “upset they wanted her to pay rent.”
They allegedly killed the children because they did not want any witnesses left behind.
The newspaper reported that McEnroe had offered to plead guilty in exchange for an agreement by Satterberg’s office not to seek the death penalty.
In recent weeks across the nation, there has risen a heated debate about gun control and firearms rights following the senseless murders of children and school employees at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn. Rhetoric from both sides has occasionally crossed the threshold of rationality, but one thing that has emerged from the discussion is a strong public support for the rights of citizens to own guns for self-defense.
A check Friday afternoon with the Washington Department of Licensing revealed that 395,984 citizens are now licensed to carry concealed in the Evergreen State. Expect that number to bounce over 396,000 on Monday.
At least part of the reason why so many citizens are arming themselves is because of crimes like the Anderson family murders.
Death penalty opponents are fond of reminding us how much it costs to execute someone.
Perhaps they should tell us how much it costs to bury six people, and ask them to place a value on six lives that were senselessly taken.