BANQUET OF CONSEQUENCES:
A Juror’s Plight
THE CARNATION MURDER TRIAL of MICHELE ANDERSON
January 25, 2016
Michele Anderson, defendant in the Carnation Murders, being led to face a jury of her peers.
Fifteen jurors finally witnessed opening statements after a one-week delay. The jurors did not know why there was a delay, were not aware that the defense team had made a motion to Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell to be dismissed from the case and were unaware as to why one juror was no longer in their company. In fact, there was more they did not know; because this was the beginning of a long journey into the discovery of what happened on Christmas Eve of 2007, when six members of the Anderson family were shot to death in the town of Carnation, Washington.
The accused, Michele Anderson, wore a purple blouse with black slacks. She looked straight ahead as the jurors, eight men and seven women, filed in for the first time.
Silence filled the courtroom with the only sound being that of the rolling wheels of the podium as Peter O’Toole maneuvered it in front of the jury box. He was wearing a crispy white Oxford shirt, red tie and black slacks. He opened a manila folder and purposely set aside a legal pad and a sheet of paper for easy reference as he spoke.
“May it please the Court, defense counsel, Michele Anderson and the jury,“ he began, pausing to glance at his outline and then across to the eyes of the jurors, “If you were to go outside Seattle, staying within King County, you will go up the 5 Freeway, to the 520 and then catch the 405 and continue northeast, you will find the town of Carnation. It’s rural, with lots of forest and is a different kingdom. You will see lots of gravel roads and it is isolated and separate from the big city we are familiar with. You will occasionally pass some small house until you turn onto a gravel road called 346 North East. You will then go up a long, winding driveway until you reach a gate, marked “No Trespassing” and “Keep Out”, just past the Wilson home.”
The jurors were silent, still and attentive. Scott O’Toole had a comfortable way of speaking. It was calm, reassuring and, as he told the story, one felt he was telling it in the confidence of each juror alone, oblivious to the packed courtroom gallery to his left.
“The unpaved road will curve to the right and you will see a single trailer home just off the road. As you continue up the road, you will come upon a white house. This is Wayne and Judy Anderson’s home. Outside you will see a garage where Wayne works on his hobbies. You’ll see a storage shed, as well. A children’s swing and a barbeque can be seen in the yard framed by forestry behind it. The house is in a secluded area.”
The prosecutor paused and glanced at his notes, as he took an imperceptible, careful breath.
“On December 24, 2007, Christmas Eve, two people, Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe, drove up the driveway, parked their truck and walked up the front steps to that house. They came from that mobile home right down the road. They walked through the front door and stayed for two hours. When they left, two grandparents, their son and daughter-in-law and their two children were dead,” he said, waving his hand toward the house, as if everyone was standing in front of it.
“These two people, who walked up those steps, came well-prepared and well-armed, carrying a .357 and 9 millimeter pistol. These two people were trusted, yet held a deep hatred for people. They left two hours later, went back to their mobile home, and proceeded to destroy all the evidence they could. They tried to hide the deaths of Wayne, Judy, Scott, Erica, Olivia and Nathan Anderson. These six would all be alive today. Their only mistake was trusting Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe. Their only mistake,” he reiterated, letting the word trail off into a pause.
“My name is Scott O’Toole, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for King County, Washington. The events I am speaking of that occurred in King County are precisely six acts of aggravated murder. These crimes are aggravated because there were multiple victims and because there was an attempt to conceal the murders or to protect the perpetrators of the crime. You will hear from civilians, law enforcement and experts, many who are very anxious about testifying and understandably so. You will also see charts and diagrams of evidence. In the end, it is you, the jurors who are the sole judges of the credibility of evidence and witnesses.”
Scott O’Toole walked to the prosecution table where Michelle Morales and Detective Scott Tompkins were seated. Michelle handed him a poster-board picture. He carried it back to the podium and then displayed it, framed in his outstretched hands, for the jury to see.
“This is Wayne Anderson with his wife, Judy, whom he had been married to for 31-years. He was an engineer for Boeing and this picture was taken at one of their functions. In 1975, they had a son named, Scott. In 1978, they had a daughter named, Michele. They bought their home in the 1970’s. Judy Anderson worked for the Post office and was both a mother and grandmother.”
The attorney went to the prosecution table and retrieved a picture of Scott Anderson, again showing it to the jury, displaying a young bearded man in his thirties. His smile was warm and gracious. “Scott was the son of Wayne and Judy. He was 32-years-old, went to Cedar Crest High School and the University of Washington. He was a carpenter and married his high-school sweetheart, Erica.”
Pictures of Erica, Olivia and Nathan followed and no one could ignore the smiling faces of the two youngest, aged 5 and 3-years-old, respectively. Nathan had just turned 3-years-old on December 10, 2007 and his innocent blue eyes seemed almost magnetic in how endearing he must have been.
“In December of 2007,” the prosecutor continued, “Michele Anderson was 29-years-old, unemployed and had worked as a security guard for a time. Her boyfriend was Joseph McEnroe, someone she met online from California. Invited by Michele, he moved up here to Kent in 2000 and, later, to Fall City. He moved into the mobile home with Michele in the spring of 2007. It was desirable because it was rent and bill free with Wayne Anderson, her father, owning the property and paying the bills.”
Barely a sound could be heard from the gallery. The two rows in front of me were filled with twenty-two members of the Anderson family. A lot of media surrounded me, taking notes as I was. Scott had our attention as much as he had the jury’s attention.
“Christmas Eve was not dissimilar to what many of us experience. There was a roast in the oven. Presents were still being wrapped. The television was on and Wayne always looked forward to the holidays when the whole family could be together. He was relaxed with his feet up when Michele and Joseph came through the door around 4:00 PM. He and his wife did not know how much the day would change. There was a 911 call at 5:13 PM. The person that called 9-1-1 never spoke a word.”
Scott O’Toole grasped the side of the podium with his hands and his voice was soft.
“The day after Christmas, at 7:30 AM, there would be another call to 9-1-1 from the same residence. It was from Linda Thiele, a co-worker of Judy’s at the Post Office. Judy had not shown up to work. That was very unlike her. The door was unlocked when Thiele went to investigate. She saw three dead bodies and called from a corner in one of the bedrooms. She did not know if the killer was in the house and she was frightened, as she whispered frantically into the phone. When she saw the first body, she thought it must have been carbon monoxide poisoning. It was not until she saw the mother and little boy did she realize she was seeing blood from bullet wounds.”
His eyes scanned the jury before he continued his story. Concerned looks were on many of the juror’s faces. Some jurors leaned forward.
“The first deputies arrived with guns drawn because they did not know if they were coming into an active shooter situation. The caller was hiding in a bedroom so they exercised extreme caution before they could safely get her out of the house, taking cover and communicating with the 911 operator. While Thiele was instructed by the operator to exit the house, three deputies went in for a killer and victim search. When they first entered the scene, they found a little girl face down with her mother, a bullet to the back of the head. There was a blood trail leading to the back door. They cleared the area, still with their guns drawn, and went outside. They saw a shed with something in front of it, in the yard. It looked like shoddy carpet was covering something. It was there that they found Wayne Anderson lying dead under the carpet wearing a t-shirt and pants around his ankles. The latch to the shed was open, where they saw the feet of another victim, Judy, lying on the floor. She had been shot in the head. After a complete property search, the final tally yielded six bodies.”
I do not think there was one person on the jury who wanted to see even one picture.
“At 11:00 AM, two people arrived in a truck. At this point, the perimeter has been surrounded in police tape, many units are outside and down the long rural driveway with their lights flashing, a helicopter is overhead and the media trucks have arrived. The occupants, Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe, exit the vehicle. Michele inquires of the deputies if this is an event having to do with the Wilson’s home just down the road. She then tells the deputies that she and her boyfriend were returning from a failed trip to Las Vegas after having a flat tire, on their way to getting married.”
Scott stopped speaking and raised an eyebrow slightly. “Something bothered the detectives immediately. Neither person asked if the family was safe. Instead, Michele wondered if someone had taken her IROC Camaro, despite hearing a helicopter overhead. Both Michele and Joseph were interviewed separately in the back of police vehicles. Neither asked why there was such a large police response, why the media were there nor if any of their family was safe. When asked where they were on Christmas Eve, they explained they had left at 4:00 PM (coincidentally near the time of the first 9-1-1 call) to go to Vegas. But, their truck had broken down. They went to Monroe, got lost and slept in the truck overnight.”
Scott O’Toole then explained the timeline they had received from Joseph McEnroe as to their whereabouts. At the same time, while being interviewed, Michele explained that the last she saw Judy had been while wrapping presents, the same they had gotten days before together at Target, Including an unwrapped toy truck. She told Detective Tompkins her story but he did not believe it.
“It’s all my fault, I’m sorry,” she suddenly blurted out.
“And then she told her story in a 45-minute recorded conversation with the detective,” O’Toole explained. “In her words, paraphrased, my brother owed me a lot of money. I was hurt when he didn’t give it back. I confronted my parents and we got into an argument. It wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the stupid money. They wanted money for rent and my brother owed me my money. But I had a secret. In my sweatshirt, I had a 9-millimeter gun, a semi-automatic. I shot Wayne while Joseph was in another room with my mother, wrapping presents. He had a .357 revolver in his jacket. I had shot my dad but the gun jammed in my sweatshirt, from the slide. Joseph came running in and held a gun to Wayne’s head and shot him. Judy ran in screaming and ran to the kitchen, trying to hide in a corner, which is when Joseph shot her in the neck and in the head.”
Scott O’Toole glanced at his notes while the jurors watched intently. I am sure some were stealing glances at the defendant who was seated mutely in her chair, sandwiched between two defense attorneys. No objections were heard as the story from Michele was told through the prosecution’s opening statement.
“I couldn’t think. What do we do now? We dragged my parents’ bodies outside and pulled Judy into the shed. We couldn’t lift Wayne in, so we covered him in some old carpet. We ran inside the house and used towels and rugs to clean up all the blood before Scott and his family came home. When they arrived, the kids went in and started playing. They started asking where mom and dad were and we ended up in an argument about the money he owed me. Like I said, this would not have happened if it weren’t for the stupid money. Well, Joseph was standing near Erica and he pulled out the .357. Scott, alarmed, jumped up from the couch and Joseph shot him in the face. Erica was screaming and holding the kids. I hated her. I somehow got the .357 and shot her two times. She was screaming and somehow got to the phone, although I don’t know how she could have done that. I think she called 9-1-1. I shot her four times but she was not dead. I shot Olivia. She was in the line of fire when I shot Erica. I think I shot her in the abdomen.”
In the moments that O’Toole was speaking, nobody else was in the room but his voice, telling a story of horror through a killer’s tale.
“Olivia crawled on the floor to hide under her mother. Joseph shot her in the back of the head. Then, seeing Nathan, he shot him in the side of the head. If you ask why I shot the children, I would say that I wanted to save them the trauma of growing up without their parents. They would be scarred for life. They would be witnesses, too. And, I remember looking at Nathan and his face looked like he accepted he was going to die. He was clinging to his mother when he was shot…”
A timeline came together after the murders with the two trying to get rid of evidence. They were up north in Monroe, Washington, when they searched Judy’s purse, finding forty dollars. Later, they went back to the mobile home. They lit the fire-pit out in the backyard and burned Judy’s wallet, the bloodied towels and rugs and whatever other evidence they could think of to destroy. After that, they went up the 5 Freeway until they got to Exit 208, near the bridge over the Stillaguamish River, where they tossed the guns.
“At 7:00 PM on December 26, 2007, both suspects were booked on suspicion of six counts of murder,” Scott O’Toole said calmly.
I think many jurors were grateful to be out of the mind and words of Michele Anderson. The callousness and coldness of the murders sat in one’s heart as if the smell of death and evil were a presence in the room.
“There is no doubt that the person who did this, is sitting in this room and her name is Michele Anderson. She murdered three generations of a family including two children. Nathan was still in his diapers on the autopsy table. To give you an idea of the coldness of this crime, you will hear from the medical examiner that performed the autopsy on Erica Anderson. There was a large wound in her chest. Some of the deputies had even commented that it looked strange, beyond the stippling of the skin, the tiny gunshot residue markings that are the earmarks of a close contact shot. It seemed that there was hair around the wound,” O’Toole stated curiously.
The jury did not move in their seats, enveloped in the words of the prosecutor.
“The Medical Examiner removed the bullet and found similar hairs as to those that surrounded the wound. He referred to the wounds as “kissing wounds” with the similarities between Nathan’s head wound and the wound on Erica’s chest matching almost precisely. It shows extremely close contact at the time of the injury from one bullet. Nathan had crawled into his mother’s arms for safety, holding his head close to her heart. The bullet that went through Nathan’s head was the same that took his hair and skull fragments into her heart. Erica had looked into the killers eyes after Nathan was shot and she was subsequently shot in the forehead between her eyes,” Scott O’Toole explained with a significant pause. “I ask you to find Michele Anderson guilty on six counts of aggravated murder in the deaths of Wayne, Judy, Scott, Erica, Olivia and Nathan Anderson.”
I did not have the heart to look at the jury. My eyes burned as tears fell on my notepad.
Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell offered the defense counsel an opportunity to begin their opening arguments.
David Sorenson stood up, wearing a light gray suit and a striped blue shirt complimented with a blue and gold striped tie. “We would like to reserve our opening arguments at this point in time,” he stated to the Court.
Some on the jury would say they were relieved for that. The first imprints of the victims had seared their hearts. Others on the jury might say that it was not the best move by the defense team. It felt like there should be a response to the charges levied. The silence would speak volumes to a few of the jurors and it would be frustrating not to share their concerns with other jurors. The evasiveness would not bode well in the jury room at some point in the future.
The rest of the day was spent with Scott O’Toole and Michelle Morales bringing forward a 911 operator, Detective Scott Tompkins and Mary Anderson.
The jury learned that the 911 operator had dispatched police to the residence of Wayne Anderson on Christmas Eve at 5:13 PM. Erica had managed to get through to the operator yet never spoke a word. Chilling cries and arguing could be heard in the background before the phone was hung up. The police arrived to investigate, found a locked gate at the end of a gravel driveway, interviewed neighbors and nothing could lead them past the gate legally as no one else had witnessed or heard anything at the time surrounding the call.
Detective Scott Tompkins, a very mild mannered witness, gave the jurors a comprehensive layout of the property including pictures, maps and diagrams. However, the most disturbing part of his testimony was a play-by-play walk, up the driveway and through both residences the day of the murder. The cameraman had walked slowly up the driveway with a video camera in hand, to capture the scene of the crimes in its undisturbed state. To the jurors’ relief, they were not exposed to the bloody scene. They did see Wayne Anderson as he was found, with the old carpet still on top of him. They saw the calves of Judy Anderson through the partially opened door of the shed. Each waited to see the rest of the scene and was scared of every step the camera took as he filmed. It was disconcerting and creepy despite the words of Detective Tompkins taking us to that eerie time.
Mary Anderson was the adopted daughter of Wayne Anderson. In the fashion and characteristics of Suzanne Summer, she brought Wayne, Judy, Scott, Erica and Nathan alive in the courtroom, if only for a few minutes. One could imagine the survivor’s guilt that must have consumed her after the murders of her family. She was supposed to be at the Christmas Eve dinner with her family. She and her son acquired a nasty cold the night prior and she did not want to infect the rest of the family because of it and cancelled her appearance. She and her son had missed death by a simple common malady. It would occur to some jurors that her strength in surviving such a close catastrophe was nothing compared to the emotional upheaval and additional strength it would take to keep her from death many times since the murders.
Few jurors would sleep after their first day. It would be fitful and lonely, their thoughts only to be contained within the deep reaches of their minds, vocalization not allowed by the Court. The thoughts would roll around and resurface with visuals of the day. All would try to avoid thinking too deeply about the last moments of six victims. Unfortunately, they could not get Erica and Nathan out of their minds as they thought of ‘kissing wounds’ and their last moments on earth…
Paul Sanders is the author of “BRAIN DAMAGE: A Juror’s Tale – The Hammer Killing Trial” and “WHY NOT KILL HER: A Juror’s Perspective – The Jodi Arias Death Penalty Retrial”, both of which are available on Amazon. The author began his True Crime writing career after being deliberating death penalty juror #13 in the State of Arizona vs. Marissa DeVault in 2014. Paul reported daily on the Carnation Murder Trial daily with Trial Talk Live’s Jarrett Seltzer. The interviews may be found in the archive section of Trial Talk Live. This work is a draft of the upcoming book: “BANQUET OF CONSEQUENCES: A Juror’s Plight – The Carnation Murder Trial of Michele Anderson”.
The sentencing of Michele Anderson is scheduled for April 21, 2016.
This work is copyrighted by Paul Sanders.
Pictures courtesy of Paul Sanders, KOMO-TV, KIRO-TV, State of Washington Prosecutor’s Office.
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