Death penalty OK’d for Wash. killings

A gavel is shown in a U.S. courtroom (MGN online)
A gavel is shown in a U.S. courtroom (MGN online)

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — The state Supreme Court says prosecutors can seek the death penalty against two people accused of killing a family of six in Carnation on Christmas Eve 2007.

In a unanimous decision Thursday, the justices said King County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell was wrong to bar Prosecutor Dan Satterberg from pursuing capital punishment for Michele Anderson and her former boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe.

The two are charged with aggravated first-degree murder in the slaughter of Anderson’s family — her parents, brother, sister-in-law, and her young niece and nephew.

Their lawyers argued that in deciding whether to seek death, Satterberg improperly considered the strength of his case – rather than only whether there was mitigating evidence that should warrant leniency. The lower court judge agreed.

But the high court said that argument made little sense. The court ruled that prosecutors may consider how strong their case is, as long as they also consider any mitigating factors.

— Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com

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