CARNATION MURDERS TRIAL of MICHELE ANDERSON Day 18 “LOST AND NOT FOUND”

 

BANQUET OF CONSEQUENCES:

A Juror’s Plight

THE CARNATION MURDERS TRIAL of MICHELE ANDERSON

 

DAY 18

February 17, 2016

 

 

Kathy Knapp of Bumble Bee Towing testified to a flat tire call from Michele Anderson.

Kathy Knapp of Bumble Bee Towing testified to a flat tire call from Michele Anderson.

“LOST AND NOT FOUND”           

 

“When were you first called regarding the crime scene in Carnation?” Michelle Morales, asked the witness.  She was wearing a burgundy colored skirt and a black blouse with a black coat.  The jurors would have been happy with the change of pace as they watched the co-prosecutor.

Angela Van Liew, the witness, had been a forensic photographer for the King County Sheriff’s Office for ten years.  She was a tall and petite woman with long brown hair and glasses.  She was dressed comfortably in blue jeans, a brown blouse and tan coat.

She moved her head closer to the microphone.  “I was contacted by detectives on December 27, 2007.  I was asked if I could take pictures of the crime scene with my focus on the backyard, near the shed.  I believe one victim had been removed and one was still on the scene.”

“Thank you,” Michelle acknowledged.  “So, did you ultimately take pictures at the scene?”

“I did,” the witness answered.  “We did the outside location that day, before and after Judith’s body was moved.  It was a slow process because we did not want to contaminate the crime scene.”

“At some point, you went back, didn’t you?”

“I went back on January 14, 2008,” Angela answered as she looked briefly at her notes.  “After attending a meeting with the prosecutors and detectives, I was dispatched to take photographs of the Anderson’s home, specifically, of the living room floor.  The goal was to reproduce the living room floor to scale.”

“Was there any furniture in the living room when you eventually took your photographs?” the Prosecutor asked.

“The furniture had been removed.  So, under the advice of Brian Sherrod, we attempted to take pictures in four by four squares in a seventy-two pc grid pattern.  In a way, we were trying to make a mosaic that he could piece together,” Angela explained to the jury.

“Were you successful that day?”

“Unfortunately, we were not.  We blew the circuits in the house with our lighting equipment.  The natural light was not good enough for the detail we needed.  We went back to the location on January 30,” Angela said.  She quickly looked at her notes.  “However, the floor was sagging and fragile.  Pieces had been taken out for evidence.  We came back on February 28 after the structure was made a little safer.  The living room was not damaged.”

Michelle nodded her head.  “How many pictures were you able to take?”

“We got about two-hundred.  This time, with new equipment, we were able to get a more accurate photograph layout of the living room floor.  We completed a sequence of one by one foot pictures.  It was the only room we worked on.”

Michelle Morales was the stage manager as Scott O’Toole worked the electronic equipment to display the pictures that Angela Van Liew had taken.  Sequences of grid patterns were shown on the projection screen for the jury.  The living room was being broken up into little pieces to be then reassembled to scale in a crime lab somewhere else.  Some jurors would have been excited at the prospect of having the murder scene recreated.  It would give them answers to some of the questions tumbling around in their heads.

Her questioning had been smooth, graceful and yielded credible information.

David Sorenson, the lead defense attorney for Michele Anderson, stood up after Michelle returned to her seat.  He was wearing a gray suit with a white shirt complimented with a gray striped tie.  “I have just a couple of questions for you.  You said that you returned the scene in Carnation in February?”

“Yes,” Angela answered politely.

“You also said “we” in your testimony.  Who is “we”?” Sorenson asked.

“My supervisors were Russell Barrett and Robert Shaw.  Three of us were working the scene.  I may have referred to Brian Sherrod but he was not at the scene.  We were building a photograph mosaic for him,” she answered.

Sorenson nodded his head at her.  “No more questions.”

Brian Sherrod took the stand.  He had a Doctorate of Geological Science from the University of Washington.  It was effortlessly revealed through Michelle Morales that he had been studying earthquakes for twenty years and currently worked as a research geologist.

He seemed comfortable on the witness stand.  He was wearing glasses, blue jeans, a blue polo shirt, and had a shiny head.  He was a large framed man yet very affable in his nature.  It would seem a little curious to jurors how he would fit into the puzzle.

“I was contacted by Scott Tompkins because he knew of my specialty in this type of detailed photography,” Sherrod explained to the jury.  “He wanted a digital and exact recreation of the floor based on actual photographs.”

“How does your experience in earthquake study apply to the request of the detective?” Morales asked.

“In the study of earthquakes, my pictures must be exact.  We are tracking very miniscule changes in the earth’s crust.  We do airborne laser photography to make high-resolution maps.  We mark pieces of land with stakes to look at fault activity.  The study uses a significant amount of detailed photography.  I also go directly to areas we are measuring.  I park my RV and will stay on a site for days, recording meticulous movements in the earth’s crust. So, once I understood that the detective wanted to recreate the crime scene, digitally exact, I knew I could assist,” Sherrod said.

“Were you able to do it as requested?” Michelle asked.

The geologist smiled, somewhat proudly.  “I was.  It took me two days.  It was quite tedious work actually.  I took the pictures that were taken by Angela Van Liew, determined their fiduciary lines, and pieced the room completely back together.  The whole work completes a twelve by fourteen room, exactly as it was on location.”

Fiduciary lines were those lines that had to be lined up perfectly to match frame to frame, he explained.  Anything outside those lines was repeated data in pixel-sized parts.  The lines almost seemed to fit together molecule to molecule.

Michelle Morales presented Exhibit #117 on the screen.  It was the scene of the murder broken up into little pieces by the work of the extensive digital photography.  The witness spoke of fiduciary marks and the technicalities of how the complicated puzzle came together while the jurors looked on.  Some saw the testimony as a precursor of something to come because they saw nothing after the exhibit.  His testimony was completed leaving some jurors with more questions than answers.

Every juror would note that the blood spatter patterns were replicated exactly.

Scott O’Toole marked the conclusion of a recess in the proceedings as he spoke to the Judge and Court outside the presence of the jury.  He was wearing a black suit with a blue shirt and red tie.  “I just wanted to make the Court aware that I had an incident with Juror #10,” he said.

My interest was certainly piqued.

“Go ahead,” Judge Ramsdell directed.

“I was leaving the fifth floor restroom when I accidentally ran into juror #10.  I said something like, “oops, I’m sorry.”  We didn’t say anything after that and I thought you all should be aware.”

“Thank you, Counselor,” Ramsdell responded.  He looked toward the defense team of David Sorenson and Colleen O’Connor.  “Do you have any concern?”

David Sorenson stood up.  “No, we don’t think so.  We appreciate Mr. O’Toole coming forward.  Things like that happen.”

The somber tone of the courtroom changed when Kathy Knapp was called to the witness stand.  Her energy was infectious and almost bubbly.  It was a welcome relief to the many watching including the family.  The tendrils of murder reached into all the corners of society and sometimes revealed special diamonds.  The witness was naturally ingratiating and completely without any mask of secrets.  She sat on the witness stand as if she were sitting at a coffee table with the jurors.

Kathy Knapp was a bigger lady in her sixties wearing gray pants, a pink top and pink sweatshirt.  She had salt and pepper hair.  She stumbled when she went to sit down and laughed.  “Oh I’m so sorry.  I’ve never done this before.”

The jurors would have loved her immediately.

Scott O’Toole dexterously handled her questioning and kept the tone light.  It was clear she had a little nervous energy at the outset and then Scott turned her testimony into conversation. The jury quickly learned that she and her husband owned ‘Bumble Bee Towing’.  Their truck was black and yellow, painted like a bumblebee.  She was responsible for the paperwork and the phones while her husband, Randy, did the driving.

“Did you receive a call for service on December 26, 2007?”

“I did,” she answered.  “The phone rang at 5:30 AM.  It was a call about a flat tire in Kelso off the I-5.  It was an insurance company that called us.  Then, I got Randy up.  He had to do the service.  After that, I talked to the woman in the stranded car.  I told her that she better put her flashers on.  A lot of bad things can happen out there on the shoulder.  People are driving seventy-miles an hour.  Let me tell you, I have seen a thing or two…”

“Thank you,” Scott said, returning a smile.  “When you talked to the woman, give us an idea what happened.”

“So, I find out that they’re getting married in Reno and the truck got a flat.  They didn’t know how to change it.  She was in a big rush.  I explained a driver was on the way, told her again to leave her flashers on and that I would contact the State Patrol,” she explained to Scott.

“How was her demeanor over the phone?”

Kathy shook her head.  “She got all upset with me about calling the State Patrol.  I told her that it’s required on the Interstate.  She was really agitated.”

“Then what happened?” Scott asked.

“I hung up on her,” she said as if it were the most obvious thing to do.  Some of the jurors smiled.  “I told Randy have fun with her before he left.  So, he calls me awhile later to have me run her plates.  He thought something was weird.  He told me enough to know that something was a little odd, you know?  I ran the plates and nothing came back on them.  I also sent another driver out there with bolt cutters.”

“What did your husband need with bolt cutters?”

“The darn spare tire was locked with some sort of bicycle lock.  It would have helped if we knew this on the first call I had with her,” she said as she referred to Michele Anderson.

“Do you live close to the I-5?”

The witness laughed.  “I could throw a rock and hit it.”

“Did you talk to your husband again while he was out there on the tire service?” Scott asked.

“Yeah,” she answered.  “He called me back forty-five minutes later to tell me they were still on the side of the road.  The tire had been changed.  You see it’s our policy not to leave anyone stranded.  I told Randy to tell them to move along.”

“We’re going to look at some pictures and see if you recognize them,” Scott said as he walked to the Court Clerk to retrieve a stack of papers.

The witness’s arm slipped on the arm of her chair.  She looked at the jury and chuckled.  “I don’t do this, ever,” she whispered.

Suddenly, Colleen O’Connor spoke up vehemently from the defense table.  “The witness will kindly not speak to the jurors!”

Kathy looked toward the Judge and motioned her apology.

The Prosecutor continued with pictures of the tow service documents that they had completed late in December of 2007.  Little did Kathy Knapp know, that the characters who were in the car on that early morning phone call would one day put her on a witness stand. By the end of her testimony, the jurors would have found the cloud of suspicion in Mrs. Knapp’s head credible.

Randall Knapp took the witness stand.  He was a tall thin man wearing blue jeans, a blue decaled “Bumble Bee Towing” t-shirt and black work boots.  He had gold-framed glasses that sat closer to the tip of his nose than to his eyes.  One could feel he had been married for years and that he was the worker bee of the household. He was reserved and studious on the stand, answering each question succinctly.

Those who are local to King County would understand what a miracle it was for the two stranded motorists to get a tow truck in ten minutes.  Randy had arrived at 5:40 AM, ten minutes after the original call, and was immediately challenged by the locked spare tire and the fact that the two motorists appeared to know nothing about their truck.  He also thought it strange that they said they were headed to Las Vegas but did not have a piece of luggage in either the front or in the flatbed.

Randy called his wife to send another driver with bolt cutters. He requested that it be his cousin Roy.  He told her to run the plates because he thought they were suspicious.  He waited in his truck for his cousin to arrive and heard word there was nothing to report on the truck.

A short time later, the tire was changed.  As his wife had mentioned, the two would not leave the side of the freeway until he got back out and told them they couldn’t stay there.  It was a little bizarre given how anxious Michele Anderson had been at the beginning of the service.  She could not wait for him to finish the job and then they just stayed stationary, parked on the side of the freeway.

“When they pulled back on the freeway, did you see where they went?” Scott O’Toole asked.

“I followed them and they took the first exit.  I watched them turn around and get back on the freeway headed north instead of south,” Randy Knapp stated.  “The whole thing did not seem right with the lack of luggage, the hurry to get on the road and then to go the other way.  It just did not make sense.”

The parade of witnesses continued with the introduction of Christopher Streeter, an employee of Jaffe Jewelry and Loan.  He had been responsible for the legal sale of a 9 MM and a Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum.  Both guns had been used and were sold for less than $600. Background checks had been approved and the waiting period was completed.  He remembered the .357 specifically because of the after-market grip that was on the handle.

Joseph Thomas McEnroe had purchased the .357 and Michele Kristin Anderson had purchased the other gun.  Both sales had been completed by January 2, 2004.

“What was the serial number of the Smith & Wesson Revolver?” O’Toole inquired.  A picture of the receipt was on the projection screen for the jurors.  He read the numbers that they could clearly see, located on the top right line.

“Model #19-4 with a Serial Number of 57K-2079,” he answered, reading the numbers displayed.

“You said these guns were used when you sold them.  Were they both in working order?”

“Yes,” he answered.  “We always check the hammer, the pulling trigger and ensure that the cartridge and cylinders are working.”

The jurors had a pretty good idea the guns worked when they were used three years later.

A final spoonful of testimony was fed to the jurors when retired Sergeant James N. Knauss, of the King County Sheriff’s Office, took his seat.  He was dressed formally in black suit with a blue shirt and maroon colored tie.  His thirty-five years of service had begun in 1980 when Mount St Helens erupted, an hour south of King County, on July 10, 1980. He had ultimately worked every possible job within the department. He began his career as a patrol officer and finished as a homicide supervisor in the Marine Unit of the King’s County Sheriff’s Office.  His primary responsibilities included detailed searches of local waters and the search for bodies.

He was contacted by Sergeant Toner of the King’s County Sheriff’s Office to search for two weapons thought to be in the Stillaguamish River.  The river is located approximately forty miles north of Seattle and crosses the interstate at near Exit 208 near Arlington in Snohomish County, the bordering county to King County.  Some might call the area farm country with its rolling hills and grazing cows.

The first search for the weapons, which commenced because Michele Anderson had confessed to throwing them over the bridge on Christmas Eve 2007, began on January 3, 2008.  Divers swam in the river while a boat above made a detailed grid pattern of the areas they were searching.  It was a tedious job with no visibility in the stirred up waters.  The recent rains had swelled the river which forced the divers to feel through the silt and rocks at the base of the river for any objects that might be a gun. They had no success.

The marine search team returned on January 23rd and 24th for additional searches.  Two full days were spent on the meticulous search going up and down the river.  They covered both banks of the river and felt their way through thousands of pounds of mud on the floor of the river.  It seemed that every foot had been inspected before the Sergeant had to finally admit that their search had been unsuccessful.

Little did he know that a conversation over a cup of coffee, on January 3, 2008, at Starbuck’s, would yield the answer to the mystery of what happened to the guns in question.

The only problem was that it would not be realized until four years later…

 

 

 

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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, King County, State of Washington Prosecutor’s Office.

 

Facebook: Paul Sanders
Twitter: The13thJurorMD
Website: The13thjurormd.com

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