For the first time since Joseph McEnroe’s trial started last month, his lawyers presented evidence to illustrate how they would defend him against charges that could result in McEnroe being condemned to death row.
Two weeks ago, prosecutors played the taped confession of Joseph McEnroe to convince a King County jury of his guilt in the deaths of six members of a family in Carnation eight years ago.
On Wednesday, McEnroe’s attorneys played another taped confession — made by his then-girlfriend and co-defendant — in hopes of convincing jurors that he was coerced into the killings.
On the tape, a barely audible Michele Anderson is heard talking to King County sheriff’s detectives about the fatal shootings of her relatives during a Christmas Eve gathering in 2007. Anderson, who is scheduled to be tried after McEnroe, insists to the detective the killings were “all my idea.”
“I pushed him into it,” she said of McEnroe between sobs. “We both felt really bad. I should have walked away from it. I take 100 percent responsibility for it.”
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Detectives interviewed McEnroe and Anderson two days after the slayings and hours after the bodies were found on the rural property near Carnation where they lived in a single-wide trailer on land owned by Anderson’s parents.
McEnroe and Anderson, both 36, are accused of killing Anderson’s parents, Wayne and Judy Anderson; their son, Scott, and his wife, Erica Anderson; and the younger couple’s children, 5-year-old Olivia and 3-year-old Nathan. If convicted, McEnroe and Anderson both face the death penalty.
McEnroe’s trial is expected to continue into May.
If he is found guilty after the criminal trial, his case will proceed to a penalty phase, when the same jury will determine whether he should be executed or face life in prison without parole.
McEnroe’s attorneys have not disputed he took part in the slayings. But by playing Anderson’s confession, they apparently hope to show he was coerced by Anderson and possibly convince jurors that his culpability could warrant a verdict of not guilty.
On the first day of defense testimony, McEnroe attorney Leo Hamaji called lead case detective Scott Tompkins to the witness stand to talk about his interview with Anderson. Hamaji then had her confession of several hours played for the jury.
In her taped confession, Anderson told Tompkins and another detective the slayings were not premeditated. She said that for the days leading up to the massacre she planned to kill only her brother, who she claimed owed her money.
“I didn’t want to shoot anybody. I just wanted to aim my gun at everybody, and they just freaked out,” her shaky voice could be heard on the recording. “I freaked out because I thought they were all against me.”
I felt so bad, like what the hell have I done?” she said at one point during the interview. “I’m a monster.”
Anderson repeatedly asked detectives not to blame McEnroe.
“I don’t want Joe to go to jail because I threatened him to help me,” she said.
Anderson said she and McEnroe had agreed that if they were arrested they would say they were out of town, on their way to Las Vegas to get married, when the slayings occurred. But both soon confessed in separate interviews.
McEnroe, in his taped confession played in court earlier this month, told investigators that Wayne Anderson had beaten his wife and abused his children. He said Michele Anderson had been “brutalized” by both her parents — and had been thinking about killing them “her entire life.”
Anderson, in her taped confession, echoed the claim of being abused by her father. She said she first shot her father but that her gun jammed. McEnroe then stepped in and killed the elder Andersons.
The couple then cleaned up the house and waited for Michele’s brother, sister-in-law and young children, Anderson said.
After the family of four arrived for the holiday party, Michele Anderson started quarreling with her brother over the money he owed her; she then shot him, she told investigators.
McEnroe, in his taped confession, said he killed Erica, Olivia and Nathan Anderson.
Michele Anderson told detectives the children had to be killed because “I just thought if they saw their parents dead that they’d be scarred for life.”
Anderson repeatedly apologized for what they did.
McEnroe’s defense team is expected to call another of Michele Anderson’s ex-boyfriends to the witness stand Thursday. It is unclear whether McEnroe will take the stand.