A woman accused of killing six family members on Christmas Eve 2007 has been deemed mentally competent to stand trial by evaluators at Western...

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Murder defendant

competent for trial

A woman accused of killing six family members on Christmas Eve 2007 has been deemed mentally competent to stand trial by evaluators at Western State Hospital.

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Michele Anderson was examined this summer by mental-health experts — the second time since her arrest that she had been evaluated and deemed competent.

Her lawyer, Colleen O’Connor, told Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell during a July hearing that Anderson is highly emotional and unable to assist in her defense for her upcoming trial on six counts of aggravated murder.

One of Anderson’s lawyers told Ramsdell on Wednesday that they need time to review the Western State report and would like to discuss it at her next court hearing, Oct. 20.

Anderson and her former boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe, were arrested shortly after six members of Anderson’s family were found slain in her parents’ Carnation home. Killed were her parents, Wayne and Judy Anderson; her brother and his wife, Scott and Erica Anderson; and that couple’s children, Olivia, 5, and Nathan, 3.


Good weather

into the weekend

Temperatures have been in the 70s all week and, though light rain is forecast for Thursday, the temperatures should remain warm, according to the National Weather Service.

The nice weather should extend into the weekend, and temperatures won’t cool down until early next week, the weather service said.

The temperatures are above the normal temperatures of the upper 60s this time of year, according to the weather service.


Southbound I-5

ramps to be closed

Expect traffic slowdowns in Lynnwood this weekend as the state Department of Transportation closes down the southbound Interstate 5 onramps from Interstate 405 and Highway 525.

The ramps will be closed while crews build new elevated onramps and connect them to southbound I-5. The new ramps are designed to separate merging traffic from I-5, eliminate lane-weaving and reduce the risk of rear-end collisions.

The state hopes to open the new ramps at the end of September.

The southbound I-5 onramp from Highway 525 will close at 9 p.m. Friday; the onramp from I-405 will close at 11 p.m. Both will be closed until 5 a.m. Monday.

Northbound I-405 drivers will be detoured to southbound I-5 via the 164th Street Southeast interchange. Drivers on southbound Highway 525 can take Highway 99 to 196th Street Southwest or 220th Street Southwest to reach southbound I-5. Highway 525 drivers can also reach southbound I-5 via Alderwood Mall Parkway and westbound 196th Street Southwest.


Disability clients

to get back pay

The state Department of Social and Health Services is sending supplemental cash to 34,000 recipients of a disability program.

In a letter sent to state officials, the department says it failed to make a budget cut permanent, and under law it now must revert to amounts paid before Olympia cut the program’s cash.

Payments ranging from $27 to $69 will be sent to the 34,000 recipients of the Disability Lifeline program to cover a portion of July and all of August and September.

The department says it postponed filing the paperwork to make the cuts permanent because of potential additional reductions from Olympia. But the final paperwork was never filed.


Fall ferry schedule

to begin Sunday

The new fall sailing schedule for Washington State Ferries goes into effect Sunday, which means fewer sailings on some routes.

The Anacortes/Sydney, B.C., route will go from two trips a day to one, and four vessels will serve the San Juan Islands, instead of five.

New fares go into effect Oct. 1, which include a general fare increase of 2.5 percent, a new fare category for smaller cars, elimination of bicycle permits and a per-ticket surcharge of 25 cents to help pay for new vessel construction.

The ferry schedule is available at seati.ms/qus29r.


Rape, abuse

charges dismissed

Prosecutors in Portland have dismissed rape and sex-abuse charges against one of two Washington state-based soldiers accused in an alleged attack on two teenage girls in a hotel room.

The Oregonian reports (bit.ly/pqJlor) that charges were dismissed Monday against 22-year-old Sgt. Timothy J. Hartbeck, of Manchester, Iowa.

Multnomah County Chief Deputy District Attorney Norm Frink said, “based on the evidence as we know it now, there’s not information he committed a crime.”

Fellow soldier Stephan James Bardos, of Morrisville, Pa., remains in custody, facing allegations of first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy. The 27-year-old is due back in court Thursday.

Both soldiers are stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Police spokesman Lt. Robert King said earlier the 15-year-old and 17-year-old girls told police they had been sexually assaulted Sept. 4 “by numerous men in the hotel room.”

Mount Rainier

2 hikers missing

overnight found

Two hikers missing in Pierce County overnight were found safe Wednesday.

The hikers were reported missing about 6 p.m. Tuesday off Highway 410 in the Greenwater area, north of Mount Rainier, said Sgt. Jerry Bates, with the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.

The two men were with a group of hikers from Yakima with the Cascadians club. They were hiking Noble Hill when they became separated from the group, said a relative of one hiker.

Dolores Barnhill, wife of one of the missing men, Jim Barnhill, 80, said her husband called her about 10 a.m. Wednesday and told her he and his hiking partner, Jon Harlan, 75, were safe.

Barnhill told his wife the two got lost on the trail and then took a wrong turn.

“They’ve led lots of hikes and then they get lost,” said Dolores Barnhill. She said her husband told her they hiked until about 7:30 p.m. and then sat down and slept until 5:30 a.m., when they resumed hiking and ran into searchers.

“At least you slept,” she told her husband, “I didn’t.”

Barnhill told his wife, “It was mighty cold last night.”

Barnhill is former publisher of the Yakima Herald-Republic.

Olympic National Forest

Fees waived for

public-lands day

Day-use fees will be waived Saturday at hundreds of recreation sites on U.S. forest land.

The free passes are in recognition of National Public Lands Day to encourage people to get out and enjoy the nation’s forests and grasslands.

Volunteers are expected to help improve sites by building or maintaining trails, cleaning waterways, pulling weeds and sprucing up campgrounds, according to a release from the Olympic National Forest.

National Public Lands Day also serves to educate the public about the importance of natural resources and the need to be good stewards of the land.

Fees will not be waived at campgrounds or for recreation rentals. Concessionaires running day-use facilities have the option of waiving fees.

Times staff and news services

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