Not guilty pleas in Christmas Eve slayings

Not guilty pleas in Christmas Eve slayings »Play Video
An officer leads Joseph McEnroe into the courtroom before he pleaded not guilty to six murder charges at the King County Courthouse, in Seattle on Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008.
SEATTLE -- The woman and her boyfriend accused of killing six members of her family on Christmas Eve at Carnation pleaded not guilty Thursday to six counts of aggravated first-degree murder.

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg is still deciding whether to seek the death penalty if Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe are convicted.

Anderson and McEnroe stood quietly with their lawyers during the arraignment Wednesday as family members of the victims and friends sat in the courtroom separated from the defendants by a pane of glass. They held each other and wept.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney James Konant asked Anderson and McEnroe whether they understood each charge against them. The defendants answered yes in barely audible voices, so quietly that Conant at one point said to Michelle Anderson, whose long brown hair hung down in front of her face, "I'm sorry, you'll have to answer out loud."

Their lawyers entered the pleas of not guilty on their behalf.

According to prosecutors, Judy Anderson was wrapping presents for her family on Christmas Eve, when gunfire erupted in her living room and her own daughter began a bloodbath that left Anderson and five other members of her family dead.

She ran into the room and saw her daughter's boyfriend shoot her husband of 38 years, Wayne, prosecutors alleged. Judy started screaming and Joe McEnroe turned his gun on her. She fell to the floor, not yet dead. McEnroe apologized and shot her again, this time in the head, according to a police affidavit.

Satterberg said long-standing bitterness and a perceived family debt might have been factors, but said he was at a loss to assign a motive to the crime police say McEnroe and Michele Anderson, both 29, have admitted committing.

After killing her parents, Anderson and McEnroe, burned some of the evidence in a backyard fire pit, reloaded their weapons and waited for Michele's brother and his family to arrive.

When Scott Anderson, 32, walked in the door, he spotted his sister with a gun and charged her. Michele Anderson and McEnroe shot him multiple times. Michele then shot her sister-in-law, Erica, 32, who still managed to climb over a couch and call 911.

According to the affidavit, McEnroe then killed the Anderson's young children, 5-year-old Olivia and 3-year-old Nathan.

Michele Anderson told detectives her brother, a carpenter, owed her money she had loaned to him years earlier, and that she was upset with her parents because they did not take her side. Additionally, she said her parents were pressuring her to start paying rent for staying on their property.

"Michele stated that she was tired of everybody stepping on her," the court papers say. "She stated that she was upset with her parents and her brother and that if the problems did not get resolved on Dec. 24, then her intent was definitely to kill everybody."

After the killings, McEnroe and Anderson first drove north toward Canada, then south toward Oregon arriving at neither destination, then decided to go back and pretend to discover the bodies, prosecutors said.

When they arrived at the home, investigators were already there. Detectives, curious that neither McEnroe nor Michele Anderson asked what had happened at the bustling crime scene, began questioning them and they eventually confessed, according to the documents.

After Thursday's court appearance, Ben Anderson, the grandson of Wayne and Judy, and uncle of the two slain children, said if the prosecutor asks him, he will say he does not want the death penalty.

Anderson said the death penalty is "too easy." He would rather the pair spend the rest of their lives in prison.