A Juror’s Plight



DAY 19

February 18, 2016

Stillaguamish Bridge in Snohomish County, WA. The Carnation Murders guns were thrown over the bridge into the water below.

Stillaguamish Bridge in Snohomish County, WA. The Carnation Murders guns were thrown over the bridge into the water below.


The heat of the summer was felt on a farm in Snohomish County about an hour’s drive north of Seattle.  The two brothers had just finished their chores on the raw milk farm.  Their dad always said their farm did not produce whitewash milk like the big dairy farms. The milk they sold went directly from the cow into tanks.  Although it did not yield as much volume, the quality was much better.  It was not easy work and the twelve year-old boys were anxious to go outside and enjoy the warm weather.

Jared called his best friend who lived up the road in Arlington.  They were going out to play and did he want to come along?  The friend jumped at the chance and biked his way to the Sinnema’s farmhouse.  A half an hour later, the two brothers and friend dumped their bikes on the side of the road and started walking down the banks of the Stillaguamish River.

The river was low at this time of year because the winter snows had melted from the mountains.  It was a great place to go fishing, especially down the river by the “fish falls”, a rib of waterfalls that ran across the river.  The base of the falls always made for a productive fishing day.  That day, however, they were just killing time and goofing off.  Oftentimes, the ‘ker-plunk’ of a rock could be heard landing in the river as one of the boys tossed one in.

The sound of cars rushing along the bridge of the I-5 overpass got more distant as the boys walked along the river bars, pieces of beach-like land formed at the points where the river turned sharply.  It was always a good spot to find fishing lures lost on trips past.

Jared had made his way past the first river bar when he saw something shiny sticking out of the mud.  He reached down and pulled on it, surprised it was as heavy as it was.  He knew it was a gun right away.  The case, though, was rotted and moist.  He pulled it off the gun and threw it to the ground.

“Look what I found!” he called to the other boys.

“Cool,” his brother said.

“Is that a .22?” his friend asked.

Jared turned it over in his hand.  It looked like an old gun.  It was rusty and the paint was peeled pretty heavily in spots.  He could not tell if it was loaded because the cylinder was stuck.  Because his father was a gun dealer, he was familiar with the brand enough to say it was a .357 Magnum.  He wanted to keep it.

Later that afternoon, as soon as Jared got in the house, it was all he could do to get to a sink.  He had all sorts of visions in his head.  He could restore the gun or maybe re-blast it.  First, he had to clean it and see if he could get the parts moving.  He held it under the water and rubbed and pushed the metal parts until some of the pieces yielded to his pressure.  The cylinder fell open and he knew by the lack of tension that the mainspring must have been broken.

Inside the cylinder, he saw three used shell casings.  The other three compartments were empty.  He shook the gun and could hear little fragments of debris moving around in the handle.  The grip would have to be discarded as he had discarded the holster.  The gun must have been in the water a long time.

“Where did you get that?” his father suddenly asked from behind him.

“I found it up the river a ways,” Jared answered as he continued to wash the gun in the running water.  “I think I’m going to clean it up.  All it needs is a new mainspring.”

“Hmmm,” his father commented.  “Are you going to call anyone to let them know you found it?”

Jared shook his head.  “What for?  It’s an old rusty gun.”

“I’m not trying to tell you what to do,” his father said.  “However, if I had found a gun and wanted to keep it, I would probably call the Sheriff first.  What would happen if the gun were stolen?  It’s your choice, Jared.”

The boy groaned.  “Okay,” he said.

“Would you be more comfortable if I called it in?” his father asked.

“Thanks, Dad.”

Jared Sinnema could never have realized the importance of that phone call.  He could not have envisioned eight years later, he would be on a witness stand in a murder trial.  It was a lesson he would never forget.

Scott O’Toole presented the witness with a sealed box while the jury looked on with curiosity.  The nineteen year-old carefully opened the box and looked at it.  “Does this look like the item that you found on the bank of the Stillaguamish River on July 10, 2011?”

“Yeah, um, it is,” he answered.

The Prosecutor had the item entered as Exhibit #135.  He walked over to the far end of the jury box and slowly walked the length of it.  Each juror peered closely as O’Toole held the lid open with one hand and cradled the box in the other.

An old black-colored gun was zip-tied firmly to the inside of the box.  The cylinder was open and exposed.  The handle looked like bare metal.  The grip had been removed.  Jurors thought of Joseph McEnroe, his weapon and what happened to the bullets that were once in the full chamber.

“Did you find another weapon?” Scott O’Toole asked.

“No,” Jared answered.  “I don’t think I ever went back to the river after that.”

“Did you discover a jacket or shirt that might be associated with your find?”

“Um, no.”

The Prosecutor finished with his witness after he walked the three empty bullet casings in front of the jury.  The jurors’ faces were somber and still.

Scott O’Toole stood up after the completion of a break.  “If I may, Judge, before we bring in the jury, I needed to draw your attention to a very minor issue.”

“Yes, Counselor?” Judge Ramsdell asked.

“My co-prosecutor, Michelle Morales, received a comment from Juror #4.  They were passing each other in the hallway and Juror #4 offered her congratulations.  Miss Morales did not acknowledge the juror, tucked her head down and kept going,” O’Toole explained.  “I think the juror saw the recent addition to her ring finger.”

The Judge leaned over the bench slightly and peered at Michelle Morales.  “I suppose I should say congratulations, as well.  That’s a pretty observant juror.  Personally, I do not see any issues with this.  We all live with each other in these hallways and contacts are going to happen,” he said.  He looked toward the defense table.

“No issues,” David Sorenson responded without being asked.

Michelle Morales was clearly blushing.

Jeff Minor, Deputy Sheriff for Snohomish County, a twenty-three year veteran of the Department, took the stand wearing a green shirt with a Sheriff’s logo, dark green pants and black tie. He had been working the graveyard shift from 6:00 PM until 6:00 AM on the night he received a phone call about a gun that was found on the Stillaguamish River.

“Was that an uncommon call?” Scott O’Toole inquired.

“Not really,” the Deputy answered.  “We actually get a lot of calls on found guns.  Plus, people find strange stuff in the river all of the time.”

“So you took possession of the gun from the boy’s father and then what did you do?  Did you run it through a system at all?”

Jeff Miner looked toward the jury.  “It is standard to run a search of a weapon anytime one is recovered.  Our goal is to return it to the original owner.  I ran the serial numbers and nothing suspicious came back on it.  So, I logged the weapon and stored it in the evidence room.”

“Was that the last you heard on the gun?” Scott asked.

“Actually, no,” the witness answered, scratching his head.  He looked toward the jurors.  “I was having coffee at a Starbuck’s the day after the found gun was put away.  All of the sudden, I recalled a conversation with an old partner from three years prior.  It was probably in the very same Starbuck’s…”

“Objection,” David Sorenson said from the defense table.  “Relevance.”

“It goes to context, Your Honor,” Scott O’Toole noted.

The Judge thought about it for a moment.  “Overruled. I’ll allow it.”

“Go on,” Scott said to the Deputy.

“He had asked me if I wanted to tag along for a weapons search in a river.  It was cold and rainy and if I had a choice,” he said looking toward the jury, “I would rather be giving tickets to nice folks like you than traipsing through a river.  He had told me it was a search regarding a homicide and some evidence had been thrown into a river.”

“So, you did not go on the search?”

“No,” Jeff Miner responded.  “I remember his saying the homicide was in Carnation, which is in King County.  I had done the records check on the recovered firearm in Snohomish County.  It occurred to me to call the major crimes division of King County.  I thought it would be an odd coincidence that this might be the gun they were searching for.  It was a conversation from three or four years ago.”

“What did you do then?” Scott asked.  His hands were in his pockets as he conversed with his witness.

“I emailed my Sergeant and asked that this be coordinated with King County.  After that, I was not involved in the evidence transfer.”

“Can you read the serial number for us?”

The Deputy looked at the projection screen that hung the height of the room across from the jury.  “You can see the number on the metal flap when the cylinder is open.  The same serial number is located on the frame of the gun at the base of the handle.  Five-seven-K-two-zero-seven-nine.”

“Thank you,” Scott said.  “No more questions.”

“No questions,” David Sorenson responded when he was asked.

The final witness of the day, Catherine Dooley, was a fourteen-year veteran of evidence room storage for the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.  She ensured all transfers of evidence were properly documented.

She did not specifically remember the gun but verified she had processed the Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum in the transfer to Detective Scott Tompkins of the King County Sheriff’s Office.

“Why are there two barcodes?” Scott asked her, referring to the secured gun box with her signature on it.

“One barcode is for the three corresponding bullet casings.  The other barcode is for the weapon,” she answered.

“Who did you determine to be the owner of the weapon?”

“Joseph McEnroe.”

“What is the serial number of the gun?”


“Thank you,” Scott O’Toole said as he nodded his head toward the witness.  “No more questions.”

“No questions, Your Honor,” Colleen O’Connor said from the defense table.

Somehow, the gun ended up in front of the jury and it was evidence that they liked, that which they could see, touch and feel.  The mountain of evidence had grown in each juror’s mind making it almost impossible to stick with a presumption of innocence.  More than one juror wanted to explode in discussing the case with their fellow jurors.

Each juror would depart for the day, looking forward to the weekend.  However, all of them with a significant amount of experience in being a lamb to the law, each of them knew that the thoughts would not stop.  There would be little peace in their minds.  They would do their best to be warm and friendly to those they lived and worked with but their insides would be fraught with turmoil.  If any juror had been asked, they would have known the names of Wayne, Judith, Scott, Erica, Olivia and Nathan because those faces had become a part of their personal family deep in their minds.  Unfortunately, with their names also came the ingrained graphic reminders of the violence visited upon that innocent family on Christmas Eve, 2007.

Judge Ramsdell informed the jury before they left for the weekend that the trial was moving right on schedule.  He advised them that they were expected to go into deliberations on February 29, 2016, only five days away in trial days.

All of them would wonder if that was enough time for the defense team of Michele Anderson to present their case.








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



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