Michele Anderson mentioned money more than 35 times during an interview with a sheriff’s deputy as she explained why she and her former boyfriend killed six members of her family, jurors were told Monday morning.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Scott O’Toole painted a bucolic holiday scene for the jury: A Christmas tree was decorated and a roast was cooking in the oven as Judy Anderson wrapped gifts for her grandchildren while her husband of 31 years, Wayne Anderson, relaxed in front of the TV.
Around 4 p.m. on Christmas Eve 2007, the couple’s youngest daughter, Michele Anderson, and her boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe, walked into her parents’ house in rural Carnation “and everything changed,” O’Toole said Monday during his opening statement at the start of Michele Anderson’s aggravated-murder trial.
The family gathering turned into a bloodbath as three generations of Anderson’s family were gunned down with two handguns. The six victims — Anderson’s parents, brother, sister-in-law and the younger couple’s two children — were shot a combined 14 times, the jury was told.
O’Toole spoke for nearly 1½ hours, outlining the state’s case against Anderson, now 37. Her defense team did not present an opening statement, reserving it until after the state rests its case, likely several weeks from now.
Last January, a different jury heard virtually the same story when McEnroe’s trial began. He was convicted of the six murders in March but was spared the death penalty and sentenced to six life terms.
Anderson, too, faced the possibility of death, but that changed in July after the jury in McEnroe’s trial and another jury hearing a different aggravated-murder case did not impose the death penalty. King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg then announced his office would no longer seek the death penalty against Anderson.
If convicted as charged, Anderson’s only possible punishment is life in prison without the possibility of release.
In setting the scene for the jury in Anderson’s case, O’Toole described — and later showed photos and videos of — the house on a wooded, five-acre lot up a long dirt driveway where Wayne and Judy Anderson, ages 60 and 61, lived for three decades. On the same property was a single-wide mobile home where Michele Anderson and McEnroe had been living rent-free.
After Wayne and Judy Anderson were fatally shot, their bodies were dragged to a shed behind their home, the jury was told.
About an hour later, Scott Anderson; his wife, Erica; and their two children, 5-year-old Olivia and 3-year-old Nathan, arrived at the house from their home in Black Diamond; Erica, 32, took off her shoes and Scott, also 32, sank into his usual spot at the end of the couch, O’Toole told the jury.
The family of four was gunned down in the living room, but not before Erica Anderson managed to dial 911, a call that was quickly disconnected, the jury heard. Michele Anderson walked a quarter-mile down the driveway and locked a gate, which effectually turned away two deputies who responded to the 911 hang-up call.
Two days later, one of Judy Anderson’s co-workers discovered three of the bodies when she went to the property after Judy Anderson failed to show up for work at the Carnation post office, the jury was told.
Three hours after King County sheriff’s deputies were summoned, Michele Anderson and McEnroe returned to the property and claimed they had planned to get married in Las Vegas but got lost and headed back home instead, O’Toole said.
Michele Anderson didn’t ask why so many police vehicles were there or if her family was safe, and eventually blurted out, “It’s all my fault,” O’Toole recounted.
According to detectives, both suspects provided lengthy confessions and Anderson directed them to a bridge where she said McEnroe had tossed their guns into the Stillaguamish River, the jury was told.
Anderson, in a June 2008 jailhouse interview, also claimed responsibility for the killings.
During an interview with a sheriff’s detective, Michele Anderson mentioned money more than 35 times as she explained why she and McEnroe killed her family members, O’Toole said.
“The motive for these murders is pure, unadulterated greed,” he said during openings.
Anderson allegedly began planning to kill her parents and brother two weeks earlier because he owed her money and her parents wanted her to start paying for car insurance and rent for the mobile home where she lived with McEnroe.
The trial continues Tuesday.