A Juror’s Plight



DAY 26

March 2, 2016



“Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote,” Scott O’Toole began, “Everybody, sooner or later, sits down to a banquet of consequences.”

He was dressed sharply in a charcoal black suit, soft blue shirt and red tie, standing behind a podium facing the jury.  On the angled desk in front of him, he had placed his notes.  Leaning against the railing in front of the jury, out of their sight, were 3×5 ft. poster board outlines awaiting use by the prosecutor.

The jurors were finally hearing closing arguments in the Carnation murders trial of Michele Anderson.  Their involvement in the process had begun on December 11, 2015 and it seemed like a long time coming to get to this stage.  Many of the jurors felt a sense of anxiety as they worried about the alternate selection that would take place later in the day.  It made it difficult to concentrate on the Judge as he read the jury instructions and it was a bit difficult to focus on the closing arguments although each would remain as focused as possible.

“Let me begin by showing you why we are here,” Scott continued.  He picked up a small poster-board and showed it to the jury.  “This is Wayne Anderson.  He was a husband, father and grandfather.”  He angled the picture so that they could see Wayne, as he was when he was alive.

“This is a picture of Judith Anderson.  She was a wife, mother, grandmother and worked for the United States Post Office,” Scott said.  He showed the jury her picture and carefully followed it with a picture of Scott, Erica, Olivia and Nathan.

The jurors’ faces were somber and serious.

“On Christmas Eve in 2007, two people walked out of their mobile home and drove up the driveway.  Michele Anderson was driving because Joseph McEnroe did not know how to drive.  She parked the vehicle in front of the house.  They got out of the truck; concealing two loaded weapons, and walked up the steps to the front porch.  They opened the door.  She was armed with the trust of the people inside and carried hatred for them in her heart.  The only misfortune of the victims was to know Michele Anderson.”

The prosecutor paused and glanced at his notes.

“It’s been said that the true measure of a person is what a person would do when they thought they might never be caught,” he continued.  “Remember what Mary Anderson said?  Michele Anderson had discussed the killing of her parents’ weeks before it happened.  From the shadows of Christmas, there came two killers who would terrorize that family on Christmas Eve.”

Scott O’Toole’s eyes panned the length of the jury box.  I would suspect that he made eye contact with many of the jurors’ eyes.

“Today, we hold the defendant accountable.  Not in the darkness of the home where she executed her victims but in the bright lights of this courtroom.  The evidence reveals the facts and the facts show that it was Michele Anderson who committed these murders.   We have proved these elements.”

He paused when a late person entered the courtroom to find a seat in the gallery.  The sounds from the crunchy paper bag he carried made some of the jury look toward him.  There were some looks of irritation.

“You will decide the matter in six separate counts.  Within each count, you will see that there was intent, premeditation, and that her victims died as a result of her actions.  Each count took place in the State of Washington.  The defendant was responsible for the murders of Wayne, Judith, Scott, Erica, Olivia and Nathan.  Not only was she the one, who murdered all six; she solicited their murder through the assistance of her boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe.  He would not have become involved if it were not for her insistence.”

The prosecutor took a breath, glanced briefly at his notes and continued his conversation with the jury.

“I think everyone remembers the story of Robinson Crusoe.  He was alone on an island for a long time.  One day, he sees a footprint.  We all know the rest of the story. It was Friday.  Well, you may get caught up in what circumstantial evidence is.  Your conclusions are based on common sense.  Like, when Robinson Crusoe saw the footprint, he knew somebody else was there.  In this case, the DNA is circumstantial evidence and that evidence is evidence of how the murders happened.”

Scott casually turned a page on his notes.

“She is the reason why this happened.  She and Joseph McEnroe walked into Wayne and Judy’s house armed on Christmas Eve sometime in the mid-afternoon.  There was a roast in the oven.  The Christmas tree was decorated and lit.  Judy was in the craft room.  She was wrapping presents including one for the defendant.  Another present she was preparing to wrap was a toy truck for Nathan.  This was Wayne’s holiday.  The rest of the family was coming over including Mary, Scott, Erica and the children.”

The prosecutor’s voice was steady and calm.  Jurors were busy in their heads connecting his words to the evidence they had seen over the prior five weeks.

“She was 29-years old.  She admitted thirty-five times that this was all about money.  She didn’t want to pay rent and she wanted money back from Scott.  All she wanted was her “stupid money” as she stated thirty-five times in her confession.  She also made sure both weapons were loaded before they walked in that house on Christmas Eve.  She planned an argument with Wayne.  She shot at her father and missed.  She went to shoot again but her gun jammed.  Her accomplice fired the .357 and shot Wayne in the head.”

He paused for a moment.  It gave the jurors time to think of the residual picture he had left.

“Judy runs out of the craft room and saw that her husband had been shot in the head.  She panics and retreats from the shooters.  One shot misses her.  The next shot hit her as she had her arms raised in a defensive position.  The shot paralyzes her but she was conscious.  Conscious, when she was shot in the head by Joseph McEnroe.  Remember, Michele’s gun was jammed.  Then, they spent a significant amount of time cleaning the scene and hiding their evidence.  She did not want Scott to know, because she would not get her money if he saw the parents deceased at her hands.”

The jurors had the option of taking notes but none of them did.  They knew this story well.

“Two hours later, Scott and the children arrived.  He sat in his favorite chair after taking his boots off.  The kids were playing and Erica was relaxing on the couch.  Michele and Joseph sat with them.  It must have been a very good cleanup.  When asked where Wayne and Judy were, Michele told them they were in the bathroom.  It is quite probable that Scott figured out that something had happened to his parents.  Scott rose up and was shot in the face.  The children and Erica are panicked and struggled to get out of danger.  Scott knelt forward and then fell back.”

The prosecutor took a sip of water.  He did not check his notes.  He continued his well-paced dialogue.

“At this point, Erica was the next target.  We all know that Erica is the one she really did not like.  Both weapons were turned on her.  Michele had the .357 and shot Erica twice.  Remember the 911 call at 5:13 PM?  It is likely the .357 had run out of bullets.  She was reloading while Erica was dialing the handheld.  In the background of the call, you can hear Erica screaming, “Not the kids.”

The jurors would have been mortified at the thought.  Most of them probably had not picked it up when it was played in court, and would certainly request to hear the 911 call again when it came time for deliberations.

“So, Olivia was next.  Her abdomen shot had probably come from a missed shot at Erica.  Olivia had already been hit once.  She was burrowing next to her mother.  With Joseph McEnroe now standing over the remaining three, Michele orders him to shoot them. She did not want the kids to be scarred forever, she said in her confession.  She also minimized the event regarding Nathan by saying that Nathan was at peace because he looked like he knew…”

Scott O’Toole abruptly stopped.  He looked much like Ross Gardner had looked when Ross broke down for a moment.  The prosecutor seemed to hold his breath a moment and let the emotion pass.  It was not intended to be powerful but it was.

“The children were not at peace.  They were terrified.  As you recall, she then went through efforts to burn and destroy evidence.  We were witness to the discovery of the gun in the Stillaguamish.  She said, and I quote, “I was tired of everyone stepping on me.  I thought about it for weeks.  Yes, I was fed up with everything…Yes, it was premeditated.”

Over the next hour, the prosecutor carefully walked the jurors through the elements of each crime with each death.  He spent time on premeditation and he spoke about reasonable human beings and reasonable doubt.

“You will decide the facts of the case based on the evidence.  Discard both feelings of sympathy and prejudice.  This tragedy did not have to happen.  Should you have sympathy for Michele Anderson?  Should you be outraged over this killing of six?  There is no need for either emotion.  Look at the facts and you will see that Michele Anderson did murder six human beings on December 24, 2007.”

His eyes scanned the stoic faces of the jury.

“Witnesses have given you insight.  I suggest that you heard the victims’ voices through the evidence, especially the DNA.  Remember those voices in the fabric evidence and the bone evidence found deep in the chest of Erica Anderson.  Even if the victims cannot speak with us, the evidence of the murder will miraculously do it for them.  Hear all their voices.”

He turned to his last page of notes.

“You are the only voice left for Wayne, Judy, Scott, Erica, Olivia and Nathan Anderson.  Is there anything sadder than their loss of life for the defendant’s pitiful claim?  She did it for the money.  She did not want to pay rent and she wanted her money back from Scott. She knew she wouldn’t get it and decided to kill them… before she walked in the door with her boyfriend.  It was all for pure and unadulterated greed.”

One could have heard a pin drop in the courtroom.

“In the last moments of their lives, the six victims, they looked into the eyes of their killer.  Her name was Michele Anderson and she is sitting right there,” Scott said.

He waved his arm in the direction of the defendant who had her head down with her hands cupping her eyebrows.  Some may have thought they heard her crying.

“Truth matters.  Justice matters.  The voices of Wayne, Judith, Scott, Erica, Olivia and Nathan Anderson matter,” Scott finished.  He gathered his things and sat down.

The defense team would make their closing statement through Colleen O’Connor.  A lot of the jurors would have been preoccupied with the thought of becoming an alternate.  Others would focus on her words but the voice in their head kept discarding her thoughts.  The passion that Scott O’Toole had shown was contrasted by the lack of emotion by Colleen. She spoke at the jury while Scott had engaged the jury.

Some jurors would think the defense was swimming up a stream when they should have been climbing up a mountain, the evidence making any argument seem irrelevant.

The inherent problem was the lack of evidence and witnesses from the defense team.  The jury instructions had stated that opening and closing arguments were not evidence.  The arguments were meant to be a pathway.  While the prosecution’s dialogue had been paved in marble, the defense’s case was as stable as loose sand.

The jurors had nothing to hang their hat on.  They did not know it was not the fault of the defense attorneys.  They were unaware that the defendant had refused to cooperate with them.   The feigned tears of Michele Anderson seated at the defense table certainly exacerbated their problem.  How could they hold anything of value in the defense’s closing argument if there had been no evidence, witnesses or even arguments to support it?

Juror #7 and Juror #8 were condemned to the alternate position when their numbers were drawn out of a hat.

Twelve jurors went to the jury room.  A chain with a red sign was placed over their door.  Nobody was allowed to enter or exit.

The lambs to the law were now the executors of the law.  They would not come out of their room until they had a verdict.

For a time, the voices of Wayne, Judy, Scott, Erica, Olivia and Nathan would be heard again through the passionate voices of the jurors as they deliberated.  The lives of six would live once again as they considered the evidence, the law and the route to justice.

The lambs to the law were about to find justice for six while they set aside the banquet of consequences meant for the guilty.








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”.


This work is copyrighted by Paul Sanders.


Pictures courtesy of Paul Sanders, KOMO-TV, KIRO-TV, King County, State of Washington Prosecutor’s Office.


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Twitter: The13thJurorMD



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