A Juror’s Plight



DAY 22

February 24, 2016



Michele Anderson made her car payment 40 hours after the murders at Bank of America. It was her last payment.

Michele Anderson made her car payment 40 hours after the murders at Bank of America. It was her last payment.

The jurors had found a comfort zone with each other, a natural result of being on a longer-term trial.  One could see them arriving in groups together at the courthouse and leaving together.  Many of them carpooled with each other, some took public transportation and others drove in alone.  They knew each other’s nuances by now.  Each knew what the other juror did in their work life and many knew the names of each other’s children.  They had become close and since their journey had begun last December, it was not a real surprise.

There was an element of tension within each juror’s minds, though.  None of them wanted to talk about it but there was a growing concern as the trial days passed.  They knew that the selection of alternate jurors was coming around the corner.  Two jurors would not be able to be a part of deliberations.  Not one juror wanted to be selected as an alternate.  The Anderson family had become part of their lives, and each was committed to see justice through to the end for the six victims.  The only jurors that would sleep well were the ones who believed in God’s will.

Jennifer Dahlberg, from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Lab took the witness stand.  She was wearing a solid black pantsuit complimented with an aqua blouse.  Once the jurors learned that she had a degree in Astrophysics and Forensic Science, they did not need the DNA to deem her credible.  She spoke succinctly and clearly throughout her testimony as she educated the jury on her specialty, Y-STR Analysis.

Her job was to extract and analyze a particular part of DNA with specialized focus on the male chromosomes.   The process of extracting the “Y” chromosome used an almost identical process as when DNA was extracted.  Once the extraction was done, the samples were run through specialized computer systems.  The results come out in graphs and the accompanying numbers were analyzed.  As with DNA testing, her goal was to match or exclude against control samples.

On July 12, 2011, she received a sample to be tested under the request of Megan Inslee, the DNA specialist the jurors had seen the day before.  The item she received was an extract of a sample that Megan had used in her Crime Lab.

“Were you able to match the profile?” Scott O’Toole asked her.  He had his arms crossed on his chest.  He was wearing a charcoal black suit, blue shirt and a silk blue and maroon colored tie.

“I was,” she answered. “It was a match to a known DNA reference sample from Nathan Anderson.”

“Do you know where the extract that you analyzed came from?” Scott asked.

“I did,” Jennifer answered.  She looked at the jury when she spoke.  “The sample came from a bone fragment recovered from the chest of Erica Anderson.”

“Let me ask you this,” Scott said as he moved his arms to his sides.  “Does the fact that you knew where the sample came from affect the result of your testing?”

“No,” she said.  “DNA test results speak for itself. Although I like to know the context of what I am testing, it has no impact on the result.”

“No more questions,” Scott said after quickly consulting with Michelle Morales.

“Mr. Sorenson?” Judge Ramsdell queried.

“No, Your Honor,” the defense attorney responded.

“Call your next witness,” Ramsdell directed.

Thien Do walked to the witness stand wearing a sharp charcoal black suit, white shirt and blue-checkered patterned tie.  He was a tall man and walked with confidence without being overbearing.

It was expeditiously established that he was a detective in the Major Crimes Division.  He had been called to the case on December 26, 2007.  The first task he was given by Sergeant Toner was to complete the drawing up of multiple search warrants for the Carnation property.  Both of the dwellings and all the vehicles needed separate warrants.

“After you completed the warrants, did you go to the scene?” Scott asked.

“I did.  When I got there, it was my responsibility to assist with the seizure of a vehicle,” Thien replied.

“Was it a black S10 Chevy Pick-Up?”


“What kind of things are you looking for?” Scott asked.

The screen in front of the jury had a crime scene picture of the vehicle.  Evergreen trees behind it nicely framed the truck.  It might just as well have been a Chevy advertisement, with it being parked at an angle as sunlight reflected off the window and the hood.  It looked completely innocuous but the jurors knew it had stories if it could only talk.  The cab would have heard conversations meant for a horror movie.

“We look for everything including weapons, documents, ownership papers, receipts, notes, maps and things we see having potential for forensic value,” Mr. Do explained to the jurors.

“Do you look at the vehicle right there or what do you do?”

“As you can see from the picture we took, you’ll see police tape around the perimeter of the vehicle.  We then seal the vehicle and prepare it for transport to our processing lab in Seattle.  The truck goes into a bay area and then many photographs of it are taken.”

The prosecutors, Scott O’Toole and Michelle Morales entered a series of pictures into evidence as the jurors watched.  They witnessed a complete visual record of the Chevy S10.  It would have struck some of the jurors as odd that the vehicle was surprisingly clean.  One might have expected with the disorganization of the murders that it would follow suit that the truck would be in the same condition.  Gas cans and a spare tire were neatly centered in the bed.  The interior was free of debris except for one odd item in the foreground.  It looked like it could have been a brown jacket down on the driver’s side floorboards.

It was a white cat that the investigators did not notice until twenty-four hours after the picture was taken.

The floor had no random debris.  A center console on the armrest held a half-filled bottle of water.  In front of the water bottle, an open ‘catch all’ compartment had a stack of papers.  The seats looked free of stains.  Even the glove compartment pictures exposed its neatness with manuals neatly stacked, their binders faced outward.

A picture of the interior of the truck was on the screen.  “Now, was there anything that you found as particularly interesting?”

“Well, yes,” Thien responded.  He almost sounded excited.  “The center console had a good number of receipts in it.  One of our first tasks is to figure out where the truck has been.  Receipts can be very valuable.”

The jurors watched with interest as each item was entered into evidence and their corresponding picture was on a PowerPoint presentation.  Each juror looked at the blown-up receipts with particular interest.

The truck had been to a Shell Station in Monroe at 10:47 PM on December 25, 2007.  The jurors would recall the 9-1-1 emergency call hang-up at 5:13 PM.  That 9-1-1 call was important to the jury because it gave them a minimum time of death.  The city of Monroe is approximately eighteen miles north of Carnation.

A receipt for fuel at a Safeway in Kelso, Washington was dated December 26, 2007 at 7:52 AM.  Bumble Bee Towing would come to mind and the ineptness of Michele and Joe to change their tire. Since the jurors were from King County, they would realize that Kelso was one hundred and thirty miles southwest of Carnation.  What had the occupants of the truck been doing all night?

Still another receipt found the truck was fueled in Snoqualmie at 10:25 that morning.  It was now one hundred and thirty miles north of its last stop in Kelso.   It was only a short time later that the defendants returned to the Carnation murder scene.

One receipt, however, was curious.  It was a teller receipt from a Bank of America.  It showed a transaction amount of $306.26.  It was dated December 26, 2007.  The transaction had occurred in West Issaquah, a town located moments down the road from Snoqualmie.

Scott O’Toole entered Exhibit #160, another document, after approval from the defense.  He returned it to the witness.  “Can you tell us what this item is?”

“It is a folded map of Washington.  It was in the compartment with the receipts,” Thien answered.

“Thank you, Sir,” O’Toole said to the witness.  “No more questions.”

David Sorenson approached the witness.  He wore a charcoal gray suit, blue shirt and black and gold tie.  “We were talking about this series of photographs.  Those were not all the photographs you took, were they?”

“No,” Thien answered.  “We take a lot of photographs.”

“There is a video of the search, too, isn’t there?” Sorenson asked.

“There is.  We do all we can to get photographic evidence before it is contaminated.  Part of the process includes a video record of the search.”

“Very good.  Now we also looked at a lot of receipts.  Did you collect anything more than the receipts?”

“We did,” Thien responded as he looked at the jurors.

“Do you recall recovering some men’s boxer shorts?”

The witness furrowed his brow a little.  “Do you mind if I consult my report?”

“Not at all,” Sorenson said.  He waited patiently.

“We did recover men’s undergarments.  They are on the evidence log on page four.”

Sorenson nodded his head.  “And did you recover any women’s undergarments?”

“Not that I recall,” Thien answered after glancing at his notes.

“Why did you take in the men’s boxers as evidence?” Sorenson asked.

“We felt they might have trace forensic value.  The fact that they were wet might have been significant.”

“If we can draw our attention to the receipts; specifically, the Bank of America receipt.  It reads for an amount of $306.23.  Was this a withdrawal done on December 26?”

“I don’t recall,” Thien answered.  “I think it may have been a payment.”

“Thank you,” Sorenson responded as he went back to the defense table.

Scott got up again and walked toward the witness.  “Just a couple of questions, I promise,” he said as he smiled.  “You only took items that were forensically important.  You don’t take every item for examination. Does that sound right?”


Scott directed Michelle Morales to put a picture on the screen for the jurors.  It was the Bank of America Receipt blown up many times.  “If you look on the bottom right, can you tell us what it says?”

The witness nodded.  “Ah, a lease payment.  I do recall that.”

“Would you agree that this is a receipt for a lease payment at a Bank of America in West Issaquah dated December 26, 2007?  That payment was in the amount of $306.23?”

“I would,” the Detective answered.

The path of the Bank of America receipt and its forensic importance continued with the introduction of Angela [redacted], a twenty-year Internal Investigation Services officer.  Her responsibilities included investigating minor time-card offenses to million dollar disappearances.  The receipt had landed on her plate of responsibilities after she received a phone call from Detective Scott Tompkins.

“He wanted to see any video associated with the transaction,” Angela explained.

“So when you’re asked, what did you do?” Scott O’Toole asked.

“The receipt gave me very specific information.  I entered that information into the system and was able to recover a visual record of this specific transaction.  This information is accessible from my system at my desk,” Angela explained.

Scott entered a video into evidence.

The video played while the jurors watched it, entranced.  Michele Anderson walked into a small branch of a Bank of America.  She was wearing her dumpy black outfit with her black boots.  A silkscreen could be seen partially on her black shirt but was unreadable due to being slightly covered by her black, loose-fitting jacket.  She walked up a carpeted area cordoned off by faux-velvet railings supported with brass poles.  Occasionally, she would move some long hair from her forehead, as she pushed it back.

The jurors would have a million thoughts in their minds.  The top of the list would include that she seemed remarkably casual, even though she had recently killed her family.  They could read the time stamp in the corner of the video at 10:26 AM.  It was strange and it was eerie.

“Did she make the payment in cash?” Scott asked with the receipt back on the screen.

“She made it through a check that was not from a Bank of America account.  It was a lease payment in the amount of $306.26. “

“Were there any other payments made on that account after December 26, 2007?”

“No,” the investigator answered.  “There were no other payments made after that date.”

The jurors would go home at the end of the day thinking about that tale regarding the Bank of America receipt.  It had not only served to reveal the countenance of the accused, it went deeper.  It would make some question her state of mind when she walked into the bank.  How could she be sane enough to casually make a lease payment on a vehicle?

Had she really thought life was going to continue as normal?








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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