A Juror’s Plight



DAY 21

February 23, 2016


Crime Scene reconstruction of the scene in Carnation tells a story with the help of DNA forensics.

Crime Scene reconstruction of the scene in Carnation tells a story with the help of DNA forensics.


An astute juror would have seen the stack of evidence lined along the rail in front of the Court Clerk.  It was not the first time they had seen a significant amount of evidence in a day at the Carnation murder trial.  At this point, they had seen over five hundred pieces of evidence.

The jurors did not need to have a picture on the screen in order to recall the scene of the crime or the events that created it.  They would have remembered that it happened in two phases that began with the shooting of Wayne and Judy and was later followed by the slaying of the rest of the family.

A juror could picture him or herself standing in the front hallway near the door.  If the juror walked straight ahead, he or she would enter the kitchen and could go out the back door.  If a juror looked immediately left, he or she would remember the unlit Christmas tree that stood in quiet repose while an adjoining hallway led to the computer room, craft room and the two bedrooms.  To their right, one would immediately see the body of Scott Anderson.  A silent large screen television was in the corner.  Further out to the right, perpendicular to the television, was Erica; lying dead against the loveseat. Olivia was across Erica’s body while Nathan laid on the floor adjacent to her.  The coffee table inhibited a clear view.

A pair of boots was on the floor under the coffee table.  At one end, a worn leather recliner beckoned someone to relax in it.  The top of the coffee table had open snacks ready for the next holiday guest including a can of Planters Cashews and a box of Ritz Crackers.  Lightly colored drapes hung to the floor from the windows.

The jurors had a pretty good idea of what had happened but they would not have been clear on how the murders happened.  A kaleidoscope of images constantly rotated in each juror’s mind, its pictures altered by what new evidence they saw through the filter of the Court’s eyes.

When Megan Inslee took the stand, each juror’s interest was piqued when they learned she was a DNA scientist, who had worked for the Seattle Crime Lab for thirteen years specializing in molecular biology.  She wore a gray business skirt suit with a pink blouse and burgundy colored heels.  After an hour of teaching the jury about DNA and sampling, the jurors would have found her more than credible in her meticulous approach to the science.

And jurors truly do love DNA.  Jurors implicitly knew it told truths that humans could not.  What little jurors had known about DNA made it inherently credible especially with the testimony of Megan Inslee.

“I created four reports,” Megan explained to the jury.  “First, we reviewed a sequence of blood stains. Second, we created a report on possible blood found on bullets and shell casings.  Third, we revisited bullets we had studied from the first case.  Finally, we analyzed two pairs of boots.”

“Did you have an idea whose blood you would be looking for in the samples given to you?”  Scott O’Toole asked.  He was dressed impeccably in a charcoal gray suit, white shirt and burgundy tie.

“We did,” she answered.  “We created control samples based on the medical examiner’s information.  Then from various samples throughout the crime scene, we analyzed the DNA in hope of coming up with a match to the victims or suspects.”

Scott O’Toole walked over to the Court clerk and began delving into the row of evidence.  Most of the pieces were in separate envelopes.  Each one contained a blood swab with the DNA results enclosed.  They were presented to her one by one and she verified their authenticity in front of the jurors.

The DNA scientist tested the bloodstains found on the curtain at the northeast corner of the house.  The long curtain had hung in the living room.  The base of the curtain had a large area of blood near the floor while high velocity blood spatter was found further up.  The blood was determined to have been that of Scott Anderson.  The probability that someone else would share the same DNA was one in 250 billion.

The East wall of the dining room featured a similar curtain as to that of the living room.  It hung to the floor.  The area of interest was focused on the blood spatter marks.  The blood matched the reference sample of Wayne Anderson.  Its accuracy was gauged in a fragment of a billion.

Blood was scrutinized on the refrigerator door but the scientist could not get a result.  There was not enough of a sample to be of any forensic significance.  The blood had degraded and the fact that it was wiped blood could have destroyed any DNA.  However, the blood sample analyzed from the northeast corner of the kitchen by the refrigerator was determined to have been from Judith Anderson.

The jurors would put the pieces together in their minds.

The rear door threshold had a blood sample analyzed.  It came from an area of transferred blood, blood that came from another object.  The DNA profile revealed it to be the blood of Wayne Anderson.  Jurors would remember Wayne and Judith being moved after their deaths.

A spot of blood was found on the floor in the living room located at one end of the coffee table, near the recliner and next to a pair of boots.  It was a stain found almost by itself, perfectly cylindrical, the sign of blood after it dropped from straight above.  It was a match to Scott Anderson.

A boot was standing up while one was lying on its side next to the drop of blood.  The worn boots had blood underneath the right boot.  The blood was that of Scott Anderson.

Within mere feet of the coffee table was the deep brown colored recliner. The DNA was discovered in a drip of blood that ran from the top right side.  It was determined to have been that of Wayne Anderson.

On the floor, a short distance away, an antique looking wooden Pepsi box had blood spatter on it.  Small flecks of blood were discovered within the painting of the two red, white and blue hearts on the box. It was impact spatter from Erica Anderson.

The coffee table was in the center of all the violence and was subjected to testing as well.  Specifically, a yellow plastic lid from a Planters Cashews container drew attention because of the miniscule signs of blood spatter.  Just next to it, there was a box of Ritz Crackers.  It, too, had tiny flecks of blood on it.  Both articles had Scott Anderson’s DNA profile on them.

A tiny spot of blood was embedded in the television screen and studied.  It was determined to the exclusion of billions to be that of Erica.  A bullet found in the television did not reveal anything of forensic significance with regards to additional DNA determinations.

“You also did an analysis on the bullets submitted to you.  Are bullets fairly easy to obtain DNA profiles from?” Scott asked as he walked toward the Clerk.

“It is a lot more difficult due to a fall-off factor,” Megan Inslee explained.  “DNA tends not to stay on casings partly due to additional degrading when a weapon is fired.  However, we can get it in certain cases.  The tip and the back often yield enough for sampling.”

“Did you make a determination on the bullet found in the loveseat?”

“I did,” she responded as she glanced at her notes.  “The sample matched the profile of Erica Anderson.”

“In regards to the flower-patterned pillow found on the living room floor, a bullet was recovered by you from the inside of the pillow.  Did you make a determination on the DNA found on the bullet?”

“I did,” she responded.

“There were red fibers found on this bullet, too, weren’t there?” Scott questioned.

“Yes,” she agreed.  “I did not analyze the fibers because it is not my area of expertise.  However, the analysis of the DNA found in the tip of the hollow-point matched the profile of Olivia Anderson.”

“You also analyzed some fragments obtained from the medical examiner.  They were recovered from the body of Erica.  Did they yield any results?”

“I could not get a result on the hair found because it was lacking the root.  The shaft does have a sample of DNA that is forensically significant.  In that, I had to obtain a sample from the bone fragment. “

“Whose DNA did you determine it to be?” Scott asked.

“It was of Nathan Anderson.”

“And you looked at the bullet found in the loveseat?”

“Yes, the DNA profile matched Erica Anderson.”

Two shell casings had been found under the recliner.  One of the cartridges had the DNA of Scott Anderson on it.  Jurors would remember the three missing bullets casings from the .357 Magnum found in a river.

The loose bullet found in Scott Anderson’s clothes had his DNA on it.

A picture was forming in jurors’ minds but if any of them compared notes, they were probably remarkably different.  It would seem like they had a lot of pieces but none of it was quite coming together.  Many of them itched to speak with the other jurors.  To reach the other side of justice they had to take the path of understanding and sometimes it felt like a long and frustrating road.  The crime had been reduced to analytics and still the answers were not clear.

The boots of Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe were the last in the queue of evidence that had been presented throughout the day.  Some jurors would feel the element of creepiness upon seeing them again.  It was not the little circles on the soles of one set or the diagonal lines on the feet of the other set that bothered them.  It was the blood found on them.

At first, it would strike many of the jurors how little blood was found on them when they considered that the shoes were witness to six murders.  Some of the jurors would recall the earlier testimony to the blood spatter that was tested along with the large stains of blood at the murder scene.  Most were surprised as they learned the boots had no evidence of their being cleaned.

It was odd that only the blood of Wayne and Judith could be found on them.

Something else would bother the jurors.   The clean-up in the house by someone was not done to hide the crime from the police.  The only cleaning up that was done was meant to deceive the last four victims.

“Do you know what confirmatory bias is?” Scott asked his witness at the end of the day.

“I do,” Megan answered.  “It would be a situation where I would look for evidence based on what I was told.  In other words, I would know the results before testing.”

“Do you think you were impacted by the information you were given ahead of time?” the prosecutor asked.

“No,” the DNA forensic scientist answered confidently.  “DNA testing is based on numbers.  It is not based on opinions.  It does not manufacture results.”

That’s why jurors love DNA…








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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