Michele Anderson complained about her attorneys and the judge Tuesday morning before deciding not to take the stand in her aggravated-murder trial.
Amid several courtroom outbursts made outside the presence of the jury, Michele Anderson insisted on testifying in her aggravated murder trial on Tuesday before changing her mind and deciding to not take the stand.
Anderson’s attorneys initially told King County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell that Anderson had decided to testify after the prosecution rested on Tuesday morning. But defense attorney David Sorenson, noting that Anderson has refused to speak with her lawyers for several years, said he believed Anderson planned to speak about their fractured relationship, something Anderson confirmed in comments made to the judge.
Ramsdell said Anderson had the right to testify, but that the issues she has with her attorneys are irrelevant.
“I have a lot of sympathy for the predicament you find yourselves in,” Ramsdell told Sorenson and fellow defense attorney Colleen O’Connor, whose motions to withdraw from the case have been repeatedly denied by the judge. Still, Ramsdell said, this predicament is a result of Anderson’s “volitional choices.”
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However, after a brief recess and additional questioning by the judge, Anderson changed her mind and decided not to testify.
Soon after the state rested its case, the defense rested without calling any witnesses and the jurors were excused for the day.
Closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Before the Tuesday recess, Anderson accused her attorneys of misconduct, lying to her and slandering her and then accused Ramsdell of violating her rights.
She also indicated she wanted to get on the stand to tell the jury of her acrimonious relationship with her attorneys and requested to be released on personal recognizance so she could “go downtown and hire an investigator” to help prove her allegations. Anderson also suggested she be allowed to hire a mediator and a private attorney.
At one point, as Anderson continued to interrupt Ramsdell, he told her: “I have so many people mad at me about this case, you can just pile it on.”
Repeating that she has the right to testify in her own defense, he said, “The rest is irrelevant and I don’t want to hear any more.”
He later commented that he would not allow her “to come up and give a speech to the jury about how everyone is violating your rights.”
After sullenly telling the judge she wanted to ensure her complaints about her attorneys were on the record for an eventual appeal, Ramsdell said, “She’s got it on the record so many times, I don’t think anyone will miss it.”
Anderson, 37, who is charged with six counts of aggravated first-degree murder, is being tried for the shooting deaths of her parents, brother, sister-in-law and young niece and nephew. Her former boyfriend Joseph McEnroe was convicted of the same crimes last year and is serving six life terms.
If convicted as charged, Anderson will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of release.
Her trial began about five weeks ago.
Prosecutors allege Anderson enlisted McEnroe to help her to kill her parents and brother because her brother owed her money and her parents wanted her to start paying for car insurance and paying rent for the mobile home where she lived with McEnroe.
During his trial last year, McEnroe and his attorneys claimed he had been coerced to kill by Anderson, saying she had molded him “into an attack dog.” McEnroe told jurors Anderson “did everything she could, every angle and every way to convince” him to kill her family.
Jurors in Anderson’s trial also heard a taped interview she gave to a King County sheriff’s detective about the fatal shootings. During the interview, she insisted the killings were “all my idea.”
Anderson, in a June 2008 jailhouse interview with The Seattle Times, also claimed responsibility for the killings.