Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Massacre

by Susan Murphy Milano

The house (left) in Carnation, Washington, was brightly decorated for the holidays. A freshly cut, eight-foot tree in the living room overflowed with presents as Wayne and Judy Anderson prepared for their Christmas Eve dinner. They awaited their adult children and grandchildren. 

Just before 5 p.m. on Dec. 24, 2007, Michele Anderson, 30, and her former live-in boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe, 29, entered her parents' home to bring them a present no one could have predicted. Like a scene out of a horror movie, each armed with hand guns they purchased at a pawn shop together, they executed her father and then her mother. 

Five minutes later, the joy and anticipation of sharing Christmas with the family turned into terror and fear for Scott Anderson, his wife Erica and children, Nathan, three, and Carolina, five, when they walked in the door. The family met with a blaze of gunfire. 


The pair (above) shot Scott and then Erica in front of the couple’s children. Somehow Erica, already shot twice, managed to call to 911.

* 5:13.47 p.m.: Communications Center receives a call lasting about 10 seconds from the Anderson residence. The 911 call receiver did not hear any talking on the call, and noted information for the dispatcher: "Heard a lot of yelling in the background….sounded more like party noise than angry heated arguing".

 * 5:15.11 p.m.: Call Receiver calls back into the residence but the call goes to voice mail. Two squad cars are dispatched to the caller's home.

Prosecutors say murder suspect Joe McEnroe yanked the phone out of Erica's hands, tore the phone apart, then shot her in the head. Afterward, McEnroe shot and killed her two young children.

Michele Anderson, in her bright orange county-issued jumpsuit, told a Seattle Times reporter in a June 2008 jail-house interview that she "killed her family in a fit of rage, claiming she had suffered years of physical and emotional abuse."

Justice is a long time coming. Defense attorneys for both of these animals have been granted one continuance after another since the prosecutor announced he would seek the death penalty. The defense attorneys claim that they are not ready to set a trial date because of the complexity of the case. They say they have approximately 200 witnesses to schedule and interview. At this point, the judge will set a trial date sometime in 2010.

If found guilty, Anderson and McEnroe face only two possible sentences for six counts of aggravated murder: execution, or life in prison without the possibility of parole.

These grisly murders, which might seem a prime argument for the death penalty, should instead make us reexamine death-penalty statutes across the country.

The costs necessary to obtain and carry out a death sentence, including many years of appeals, require more than the justice system can absorb, according to a recent report from the Death Penalty Information Center. The defense of Anderson and McEnroe is a case in point. They will drain the justice system dry of resources it can't afford and waste as much time and money as possible. Warehousing them would cost far less money, time and effort.

I would be in favor of abolishing the death penalty if it meant these offenders could be convicted within a reasonable amount of time and sentenced to live out the rest of their lives in a prison cell. 


IAJ said...

I believe they should live with the consequences of their actions and spend the rest of their life in prison. I don't support the death penalty for several reasons, this is one of them.

Great article-Happy Holidays!

Anonymous said...

I am pro-death penalty, but would be willing to concede that many dp cases are better suited to life w/o possibility of parole because of the cost. I also agree that it would help to keep defense attorneys from getting these continuances just because the case is a dp one.

I remember seeing this case on the news, and thinking how horrible it was. These monsters shouldn't be breathing the air we breathe, but I would still be ok with life/no parole.

Ken Castle-New Heaven said...

I favor the death penalty but when the wheels of justice move at a snails pace the costs of allowing violent offenders to abuse the system and breathe tax payer air seems less important when society should lock them away forever and lose the keys to their cells.

shthar said...

What? You got something against lawyers?

Anonymous said...

I'm a latecomer to this most horrific crime but the little girls name was Olivia not Carolina. Sheesh how could you screw that up ?