A Juror’s Plight



DAY 15

February 10, 2016



The Honorable Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell of King County Superior Court

The Honorable Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell of King County Superior Court

“CAN I HAVE MY TRIAL BACK?”           
Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell called upon Kenya, the Bailiff, to speak on an issue in open court regarding a juror.  Meanwhile, the jurors were still in the jury room waiting for the start of the day.  They chatted busily while Kenya, wearing a black dress, black blouse and long tan sweater shawl, stood up next to the court clerk.  She was adjacent to the Judge and facing the attorneys.  The Court Reporter worked on her machine silently.

“Can you tell us what happened with Juror #16?” the Judge asked, leaning forward.

Kenya held her hands clasped in front of her.  “Juror #16 approached me.  He was having a conversation with his mother. Suddenly, she blurted out that the other man in the trial had been convicted and she couldn’t wait until the trial was over to talk about it.”

The Judge took his glasses off and rubbed the bridge of his nose.  He smiled and shook his head.  “Should we admonish him to stay away from his mother?”

The courtroom chuckled.

He directed his attention to the defense team, David Sorenson and Colleen O’Connor.  “What’s your feeling on this issue?”

“I think we need to think about it, Your Honor,” David Sorenson said.  He was wearing a gray suit, white oxford with a blue and gray striped tie.

“If we sequestered juries, we wouldn’t have this issue,” Ramsdell said.

I was pretty sure we hadn’t heard the last of it.  It took a lot of gumption for that juror to come to an officer of the court and relay an accidental circumstance.  The juror knew this might get him dismissed.  Although it was a difficult decision, it was the right thing to do, and I respected him for that.

The first witness of the day was Detective Scott Tompkins, Lead Detective in the Carnation murders investigation. He was wearing a gray suit, white shirt and a blue diamond patterned tie.

Scott O’Toole took a spot to the side of the podium.  His charcoal suit and white shirt was complimented with a Christmas red silk tie.  His dialogue with Tompkins was like hearing a conversation.  Scott was personable with witnesses, no matter who they were.

We learned that Michele Anderson had been with Detective Tompkins for the entirety of the day, the day after Christmas.  After her confession, they got in his car with Detective Peters and drove to the location where the guns had been dumped.  She had claimed that she and McEnroe had driven northward, stopping in Monroe for gas.  They drove in a northwest direction, passing Everett.  When they got to the Snoqualmie River off of Exit 208 on I-5, she showed them where they had thrown the guns the night of the murders.

The guns were later recovered from the river.

“Where did you go after that?” Scott O’Toole asked.

Tompkins turned toward the jury.  “It was time to have her booked so we drove to the jail.”

“Were you still questioning her?”

“It was more like small talk.  Here and there we might ask a question,” he said, thinking about it.  “Most of the time, she just said things.”

“Does anything come to mind as memorable or odd to you?” Scott asked.

“She was talking about her father and said she saw him with a skinned cat, or something like that.  I think she said she was five. It was horrible to her.  I asked if her father was a hunter.”

“Why would you ask that?”

Tompkins shifted in his chair.  “I think I was being sarcastic.  Why would a Boeing engineer be a little animal killer?  It had been a long day.”

“So you brought her down to the booking station?”

“We did. She got checked in, surrendered her clothes and boots and we kept the boots as evidence,” he Tomkins recalled.  “I think it was around six or seven at night.  The boots then went to the evidence room.”

The jurors watched as Scott O’Toole walked over to the Court Clerk and retrieved a large paper bag.  He handed it to to his witness and asked him to open it.

The Detective verbalized that he recognized his signature, the crime lab seals and the forensics seals.  He put on a pair of rubber gloves and used a pair of scissors to extricate the evidence from the bag.  One by one, he pulled out two black boots.

Scott O’Toole pulled on a pair of elastic gloves and took the boots from the witness.  The courtroom was silent.  One could only imagine what those boots had seen on a tragic Christmas Eve in 2007.  He took the boots, showed them to the defense and had them entered as Exhibit #44.

He faced the sole of one to the jury while he paired the other boot in reverse.  Slowly, he walked them in front of the jurors.  Some of the jurors leaned forward from the back row.  They were looking for the signature tiny circles on the soles of the boots.  They were the same circles that had tracked blood throughout the house and on the ledge of the shed.

It was a sobering moment for the jury, thinking of six who had been snuffed underfoot, little circles that recorded the path of a killer.

Robin Cleary took the witness stand a short time later wearing charcoal black pants, a purple blouse and a black coat.  She had worked for the King’s County Sheriff’s Office for the better part of twenty years although she currently worked for Pinkerton Security.  She was a Detective in the Major Crimes Division when she was called to the scene on December 26, 2007.  Her task was to go up in a helicopter and get aerial photos.

Once her job was completed, she returned to Carnation at 1:00 PM.  She reported to the crime lab van and met with Detective Toner who sent her to accompany Michele Anderson for forty-five minutes.  Michele had made a statement and someone needed to be in the room with her.

Detective Cleary walked into the room and sat at a table across from her.  Not long after she was seated, Michele began talking.  Cleary would refer to it as more a monologue than a dialogue.

“So, what did she tell you?” Scott asked.

“That her brother owed her forty-thousand dollars.  Her parents gave him seventy-five thousand dollars.  She was talking like, woe is me,” Cleary said.  She seemed affable on the stand as opposed to formal.

“Did you, or were you,” O’Toole clarified, “asking her questions?”

“No,” she replied.  “I just let her talk.  Her tone was intent on telling me her story.”

“What did she tell you?”

“She said her brother had guilt-tripped her.  She had been living rent-free for a year and suddenly she was supposed to pay rent.  She either said she had to be out on December 24th, or she was told on December 24th, to be out of her place.  She said she panicked,” Cleary explained.  Occasionally, she glanced at her report made from eight years ago.

“And then?”

“She told me she argued with her father that night and she shot him.  She then said that she and Joe shot everybody.  He had a .357 and she had a 9 MM.  He was an accessory.  Her gun had jammed when she was shooting Scott.  She gave the gun to Joe and he continued shooting.  He shot both the kids with her 9 MM, in the head,” Cleary testified.

“What was her demeanor at this time?” O’Toole asked.

“She was whiny and matter-of-fact.  She was not tearful,” Cleary commented.

“What else do you remember?”

“She said she shot her dad.  Her mom came running in from another room.  I think she said her mother was wrapping Christmas presents.  When her mom saw what happened, she ran to the kitchen and was cowering by the wall and the refrigerator.  That’s when she said she shot her mother.  Scott came home later and she put four rounds in him.”

“Are those the words she used?” O’Toole queried.

Detective Cleary checked her report.  “Yes,” she said.  “She also said she put two rounds into Erica.”

“What did she say happened next?”

“She said that she and Joe hid the bodies of her parents so that Scott would not see them when he got there.  They put her mother in the shed and left Wayne outside under a piece of carpet.  After everyone was dead, they used a lot of towels to try and wipe up.  They then took the towels and burned them.  After that, they drove to a covered bridge in Snohomish and threw the guns in a river.  Feeling guilty, she had returned to Carnation to confess because she couldn’t live with herself,” Cleary finished.

“Did you know she was a suspect?” O’Toole asked.

“I had a pretty good idea that she was after she told me her story.”

Although Detective Cleary’s testimony had been swift, the jurors would have found that she was a key witness.  At the very least, the tale that Cleary told put a lot of the puzzle pieces together.  It organized the chaos in each of their heads as they tried to put the timeline of the murders in place.  It made sense.

The jury had been dismissed for morning break when Judge Ramsdell held the court.  “I think now might be a good time to have a discussion with Juror #16.  Any objections, Counselors?”

Since there were none, Ramsdell asked the bailiff to bring Juror #16 back to the jury box.

My stomach muscles tightened as I imagined how uncomfortable it would be for that juror to speak on a private matter in front of everyone.

A young man came out of the jury room from the back of the courtroom and took his regular seat in the jury box.  He was dressed casually and neatly.  His oxford shirt was pressed.  He leaned forward in his seat.

“You’re not in trouble,” the Judge said jovially.  “All we want to do is talk to you about what happened with your mom.”

Juror #16 cleared his throat.  “Well, I was on a video chat with my family.  My mom said that she couldn’t wait to talk.   They knew what trial I was on but I haven’t told them anything else.  She asked when the trial would be over and then she blurted out that the defendant’s boyfriend had been found guilty.  I stopped her when she said that and told her I could not talk about it.  I am not sure where she got her data.”

The Judge scratched his forehead.  “This would be an argument for sequestering juries.  Let me ask you this: Do you think it will impact your decision-making at all?”

“No,” he answered.  “As far as I know, it’s hearsay.  I only know what we have seen at the trial. I want to focus on this.”

“Mr. O’Toole?” the Judge said.

“I keep picturing the Geico commercial where the man is a spy and he’s running.  Then mom calls,” he said, lightening the tone.  “Do you think you can base your decisions on only the facts and disregard what your mom said?”

“Absolutely,” the juror responded.

“Mr. Sorenson?” Judge Ramsdell directed toward the defense table.

“No questions,” he said.

The juror was dismissed while we expected the Judge to recess the courtroom.

“I have some information on this that you should know,” the Michele Anderson supporter suddenly said from behind me in the gallery.

I could almost hear a collective gasp in the room.  I had never been to a trial where people spoke from the gallery and this was not the first time for this individual.  She spoke up once when a microphone was not turned on.  Another time, she had made a comment out loud as the court was recessing and a family member of the slain family adamantly told the supporter not to speak to them again.  Tension was pre-existing.

“The media has reported the conviction of Joe McEnroe everywhere.  You should know that,” she told the Judge.  She was standing while everyone else was seated.

“Ma’am?” Ramsdell said, cutting her off.  “I will not tolerate your behavior from the gallery.  This is not your trial!  I am here to ensure Michele Anderson gets a fair trial.  You are not to blurt things out.  I will have you removed if it happens again.”

“But I have an interruptive disorder.  The court should respect my rights.  No one is providing me assistance…”

“This needs no more discussion,” he said with finality.

Somehow, the Judge moved to the next piece of business without showing any emotion.  “Regarding the Juror #16 issue.  Do the attorneys have any concerns?”

Scott O’Toole stood up.  “I understand if the defense has a concern.  The State sees no harm in what happened.”

David Sorenson stood up.  “I know this was a mistake and we appreciate the juror’s honesty.  It is, however, our opinion that the juror be excused.  He heard information that has been excluded in this trial.”

“I am not completely sold we should dismiss the juror,” Ramsdell commented.  “I think I want to reserve on this issue.  Let me think about it.”

The return from lunch saw the flash of a firestorm that few expected possible.

Scott O’Toole spoke up before the jury was brought in.

“If the State may, Your Honor, we would like to voice our concern for the record.  The person who made the outburst this morning is someone we have heard from before.  I would suggest that her “disruptive disorder” is self-diagnosed and further suggest that if it cannot be controlled, this causes great concern for us.”

The Judge looked back at the prosecutor, his glasses in his hand.  He seemed to be listening carefully.

“She is not an attorney.  She has no standing in the interest of this matter.  She does not represent the defendant.  I think the defense is concerned, as well.  This person visited Michele Anderson in jail on February 8, only days ago.  I do not think her behavior is appropriate for this courtroom and I think there is great potential for prejudice and, further, with her continuing actions, will set this up for a mistrial.  We suggest that if there are any further issues, that she be barred from the courtroom,” he said as he sat down.

The Judge looked toward the defense table.

“We are not supporting this person,” Sorenson said.  “It is our position that…”

“I did not say I was an attorney for Michele Anderson,” the supporter said vehemently as she stood up.  “I have heard what is going on in here.  I have seen the awful comments made by the media and people like Paul Sanders.  I know what happens. Rights are being violated.  I have a real disability and I have laws that protect me as a spectator.  Just so the prosecution knows, I have been a Pro se attorney for seven years.”

I did not dare look back at her.  The Judge did not look very pleased.

“The media has tampered with and tainted this trial,” she continued to the dismay of many.  “I’m on your side.  I am not trying to thwart this trial!  I need an ADA coordinator here and this lady by the door told me she doesn’t have someone for me. Rights are being violated!  The defense is not defending her.   I am here to collect appellate court information,” she said.  It sounded like a list of demands

The look on the Judge’s face was pure patience but the color of his ears told me she had raised his blood pressure.  He waited until she ran out of things to say.

“Can I have my trial back?” he asked rhetorically.  He looked straight at the protestor.  “Nobody asked you to attend this trial.  As far as a disabilities issue, there is none and there is no need for you to contact them.  You are in my courtroom.  No has prevented you from coming into the courtroom.  However, since you are not a party to any of the interests in this case, you need to know that your behavior is not appropriate…”

“Your Honor,” she said, interrupting him.  “We are on the same team…”

“Again,” he said with a raise of his hand, “if you cannot follow the rules of the Court, you will be removed.  I am putting you on notice that not only will I remove you from the courtroom, I will have these nice people in uniform take you to jail after I find you in contempt.”

I was glad the jury was not in the room.  None of them had seen his angry side.

“We’re doing this trial right the first time.  I will not have outbursts and I will not have people raising their hands.  This is not school.  I will not have anyone impact the defendant getting a fair trial.  We are doing this right the first time and we are not going to be in court again five years from now.  The family has been through enough.  I will take action against you if this behavior continues. Let me clearly state that we do not need your help.  I am doing my job and I appreciate you not helping.  Thank you and we’re done with this matter now,” he said firmly.

Fortunately, she did not respond. The lines had been drawn.

The jurors spent the afternoon learning about forensic pathology and the role of the Medical Examiner in a death investigation.  It would have been new information to most of the jurors.  They would have found it clinically interesting.

The one thing they worried about was their ability to keep emotion at bay when the inevitable autopsy pictures were shown.

“Can you tell the jurors what autopsy means?” Scott O’Toole asked the Medical Examiner, Richard Harruff.

“To see for one’s self,” he responded literally.

Most of the jurors were terrified of seeing the next onslaught of evidence…








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.


Facebook: Paul Sanders
Twitter: The13thJurorMD



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *