A member of the jury that spared the life of mass killer Joseph McEnroe apologized to relatives of the six victims, saying politics prevented jurors from condemning McEnroe to death.

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The foreman of the jury that spared the life of mass killer Joseph McEnroe apologized Wednesday to relatives of the six victims, saying “politics” prevented jurors from condemning him to death.

“We’re sorry that when we went back to deliberate in the second phase of the trial it ended up in jury nullification,” said Angela Morello-Williams, speaking before McEnroe was formally sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. “Justice was not done in the fair and right way that justice sets out to do.”

Morello-Williams, referring to the four jurors who voted against the death penalty, said political views “overwhelmed the voices of the victims.”

McEnroe’s defense attorney, Katie Ross, objected to the unusual request from a juror to speak during sentencing, citing concerns that the four dissenting jurors would be subject to criticism.

King County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell, who presided over McEnroe’s four-month trial, allowed Morello-Willliams to speak but disagreed with the assertion that some jurors engaged in jury nullification, a tactic in which jurors base a verdict on conscience, not necessarily law or evidence, often to send a message.

Speaking to a courtroom filled with relatives and friends of the six victims, Ramsdell said the jury’s “service was honorable and their collective judgment must be respected.”

“Four jurors concluded the state had not met its heavy burden of proof. Consequently, though divided, the jury on the whole returned a lawful verdict,” Ramsdell said. “All 12 jurors, each in their own way, followed the court’s instructions.”

After finding McEnroe guilty of six aggravated murders in March, jurors weighed two possible sentences: death or life in prison. The jury was split 8-4 in favor of the death penalty, thus sparing McEnroe’s life.

A death sentence requires a unanimous verdict.

Days after the verdict, seven jurors spoke with The Seattle Times, including two who voted to spare McEnroe’s life. The dissenters said they had weighed mitigating circumstances presented by the defense, which contended McEnroe was mentally ill and had been coerced into murder by his former girlfriend and co-defendant, Michele Anderson.

Several of the jurors who voted in support of the death penalty attended Wednesday’s sentencing.

Ramsdell told McEnroe he should consider himself fortunate.

“The fact that two-thirds of the jurors concluded that execution would be the appropriate sentence should be a sobering thought that should stay with you for the rest of your life,” Ramsdell said.

McEnroe was convicted of killing Wayne, 60, and Judy Anderson, 61; their son Scott and his wife, Erica Anderson, both 32; and the younger couple’s children, 5-year-old Olivia and 3-year-old Nathan.

The three generations were killed as they gathered at Wayne and Judy Anderson’s Carnation-area home for a holiday celebration on Christmas Eve 2007. Michele Anderson — Wayne and Judy Anderson’s daughter — is also charged in connection with the killings and is scheduled to be tried later this year.

Before the hearing began, court staff placed six white carnations on an empty bench. Ramsdell said the carnations were meant to honor the six victims.

Among those who also spoke during Wednesday’s hearing were members of the victims’ families.

Pam and Tony Mantle, the parents of Erica Anderson, were visibly angry and saddened. In addition to their daughter, they lost two grandchildren.

Tony Mantle told McEnroe he didn’t believe his assertion that Michele Anderson had coerced him into killing her family.

“He was rocking and rolling. He did this out of sport and greed,” Tony Mantle said about McEnroe.

Pam Mantle said, “I’m really sad … you’ve ruined my heart by doing this.”

McEnroe did not speak during the hearing, but occasionally winced as the relatives of his victims spoke.

Mary Victoria Anderson, sister of Michele Anderson and daughter of Wayne and Judy Anderson, said McEnroe was welcomed into her family after he started dating Michele.

“I just want Joe to know that we loved him very much,” she sobbed. “He was our family.”

She also spoke about her near brush with death the night of the murders.

Mary Victoria Anderson had testified during McEnroe’s trial that Michele had told their mother to make sure that she attended the family’s Christmas Eve celebration. But she missed the gathering because she was sick.

“I do know he was going to kill me and the kids as well,” she said, referring to her own children. “I never did anything to him.”