A Juror’s Plight



DAY 27

March 3, 2016



King County Superior Court Jury Assembly Room.

King County Superior Court Jury Assembly Room.

It was not until the twelve jurors made it past the alternate selection that they allowed themselves to own the case completely in their minds.

Each of the jurors would have been sad to see their comrades, Juror #7 and Juror #8, as they were selected as alternates.  They had done a civic service above and beyond the normal expectation of a typical juror.  They had earned the respect of the remaining twelve.

Juror #8 was a soft-spoken gentleman.  He had taken a lot of notes and always paid attention.  Originally named Juror #52, he was remembered as working for the Gates Foundation.  When asked, he had said the two children in this case gave him pause.  He also felt that the law had a threshold to meet regardless of the severity of punishment.  He would have a natural sympathy for the victims and felt the prosecution had a standard to meet. He looked like he had a good head on his shoulders.

Juror #7 was a female with dark hair.  She was always leaning forward and always seen with a pen in her hand.  She captured a lot of notes throughout.  We learned during the selection process that, although she had not been involved in victim’s rights per se, she did work for a youth domestic violence center.  At the time of her selection as a juror, she was a youth coordinator.

I felt bad for both of the alternates and sure that I saw some dejection on their faces as they turned in their notepads.  It would be a difficult position to be in.  If I ever ran into either of them again, I would shake their hands warmly and thank them for their service.  Not only had they earned their fellow juror’s respect, they had earned mine.

There was brief sadness at the departure of the two jurors but it was quickly quelled by the great sense of relief that befell each of them.   That feeling was soon overwhelmed by the urge to talk about the case with the other jurors.  Kenya could not close the deliberation door fast enough for them to get talking.  It would almost be an explosion.  They had two tasks in front of them.

The first was to select a jury foreperson.  In the State of Washington, it was called the “Presiding Juror”.  For all intents and purposes, either name was of the same difference.  This is usually not a long process.  The jury cast their votes verbally and sometimes, they used slips of paper.

Secondly, the Jurors would have to arrange their deliberation schedule.  They were only allowed to deliberate in the deliberation room.  Their schedule had to coincide with the Court schedule.  They could, as they were told on the first day of jury selection, deliberate on Fridays.  The courtrooms often used these days for administrative tasks.  These Jurors wanted to deliberate on Friday.

While they took care of those tasks, jurors would be hard to corral; with so many of them finally talking to each other excitedly about the things that had been rolling around in their minds for what seemed like months.  Everyone would want to talk so it was no surprise that the jurors did not reach a verdict on the first day.

More than likely, the second thing the Presiding Juror executed after they submitted their deliberation schedule was to do an initial poll on the jury.

It would have been a little more complicated than the jurors thought it would be.  There were fifty-six pages of jury instruction in their packet. The verdict forms were numerous.  The first twelve verdict forms included a first and second-degree consideration for each victim.  It would be no surprise if some jurors were unsure of the difference between first and second-degree murder in each allegation.

None of the jurors would have been surprised if they were not unanimous on the first poll. At the very least, they had a temperature of their fellow jurors’ sentiments.

Another set of Special Verdict Forms followed.  In each count of murder, the jurors simply had to answer the question: Was the defendant, Michele Kristen Anderson, armed with a firearm at the commission of the crime?

This sequence of questions would force the jurors to deliberate and recreate each death that occurred on December 24, 2007.  It would take some time.

Yet, they still had two more questions to answer.  The first asked: Has the State proven the existence of the following aggravating factor beyond a reasonable doubt?  “There was more than one person murdered and the murders were a part of a common scheme or plan or the result of the single act of one person.”

The question was repeated with a statement on the second aggravating circumstance.  Had the State proved beyond a reasonable doubt, “the defendant committed the murder to conceal the commission of a crime or to protect or conceal the identity of any person committing a crime?”

It was an arduous task in front of the jury of twelve strangers and each was up to it.  They would have to first organize the evidence around each victim and get personal with the circumstances of each death, one at a time.  To discover the elements that made first-degree murder, they would have to discuss intent, premeditation and that the defendant caused the death of another.  If the jurors could not agree on premeditation in each case, they would move to the second-degree category, an option some jurors would vehemently be against.  The semantic difference would be the root of consternation and arguments.

A short time before lunch, the jurors submitted a series of questions for the Court.  Within the hour, Judge Ramsdell was able to have the defendant, her defense attorneys and prosecuting attorneys present for the reading of the questions.

The jurors wanted Exhibit #74.  It was known as the confession tape and was about two hours in length.  The court originally thought the jurors wanted to hear the confession and learned that, instead, they wanted the manuscript they had read along with when the tape had been played in court.

Scott O’Toole had no objection to it.  The transcript was a word for word manuscript from the audio recording.

Colleen O’Connor of the defense team agreed it should be allowed in the jury room.  It was interpreted not to be illustrative and her closing arguments had referenced the transcript on a number of occasions.

Judge Ramsdell allowed the transcript back for the jurors, limiting it to one copy.

The transcript was a one hundred and twelve page mixture of truths, lies and intentions.

The jury of twelve asked for an exhibit list.  This would be an understandable request.  There were 171 exhibits and many of those exhibits had sub-exhibits, which numbered in the dozens.  The attorneys and Judge discussed it briefly and decided, after some agreed upon redactions, that they could have the list.

If I could have stepped back into the jury room, I would have warned them that the exhibit list would not be very valuable.  Typically, it is a column sheet, which reflects an exhibit number, a corresponding evidence number and a very general description of the evidence.  If the evidence were a picture, the description of the item would be stated generally as “Picture”.  Those who were fastidious about their note taking and those who documented the evidence would suddenly be valuable in the deliberation process.  Jurors are resourceful and have good memories.  They would find exactly what they needed despite any obstacles in their way.

Next, the jurors had an issue with the electronic equipment sent back to them for their perusal.  A significant amount of evidence in the trial included PowerPoint presentations, photographs and videos.  The 911 call placed at 5:13 PM on December 24, 2007 would be an item the jurors would want to listen to again.  However, all would be for naught if they could not get the equipment working.

The Judge had a technician from the courthouse standing in front of the bench within five minutes.  Ten minutes later, the Bailiff, Kenya, took the working equipment back to the jury room.

“All right, Counselors,” Judge Ramsdell said.  “It appears we have the juror issues taken care of.  Is there anything else?”

“Just one thing, Your Honor,” Colleen O’Connor said.  “The defendant requested that she not be called in for jury questions. She would rather stay at the jail until a verdict is reached.”

“Any objections from the State?” Ramsdell queried.

“No,” Scott O’Toole responded.

“We will consult with the defense counsel on any juror question, giving the defendant the option to attend,” the Judge responded.  “I see no issue with it.”

The Court recessed while the twelve jurors worked the problem and the task in front of them.  It would take some time to talk the crime through and put the pieces together.  They had to get through the organizational issues and then begin the process of digging for the truth.  They were the fact-finders of the case and the facts were in front of them.

Those facts numbered over five hundred and each item became important when they discussed the semantics of murder.

The jurors left the building with seven hours under their belts.  They would return in the morning and for every minute that passed, it would be another minute closer to a verdict.

This jury was committed to doing the right thing.  Each of them knew they were now the last remaining voices of Wayne, Judy, Scott, Erica, Olivia and Nathan.

I had every confidence in the world that they will do the right thing…







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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