Saturday, May 3, 2008

Judge orders competency evaluation in Carnation slayings

By Mike Carter
Seattle Times Staff Reporter

A King County judge has ordered that Michele Anderson, the 29-year-old Carnation woman accused of killing six members of her family on Christmas Eve, undergo a competency evaluation.

Anderson's defense had asked for the evaluation in a sealed motion, and had sought to close the courtroom so they could argue their case. However, Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell said Friday he would not close the courtroom, and that there would be no need anyway because he was granting the request without hearing arguments.

Anderson will be seen by two psychiatrists — one appointed by the defense, the other by prosecutors — while being held in the King County Jail.

Ramsdell said little that shed light on the behavior Anderson's defense has witnessed that has led them to think she may not be competent to stand trial. He said only that her attorneys had filed attorney-client materials under seal that "contain substantive support for the motion ... they have a reason to doubt the defendant's competency."

During Friday's hearing, Anderson attempted to pass a letter written on a sheet of yellow paper to the judge, but Ramsdell said he didn't want to look at it and returned it to her by the court clerk.

The judge explained that he was concerned the letter might contain some information that he would be required to act on — perhaps even pass on to prosecutors — and that he would rather allow the competency evaluation to take place first.

A lawyer for The Seattle Times had filed a motion Thursday opposing closure of the courtroom to the public, saying the defense hasn't publicly provided any compelling reasons to do so.

Anderson's lawyers are trying to persuade King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg not to seek the death penalty against the woman, saying mental-health problems should make her ineligible for execution.

Anderson and her boyfriend, Joseph McEnroe, are each charged with six counts of aggravated murder in connection with the fatal shootings of Anderson's parents, Wayne, 60, and Judith Anderson, 61; her brother, Scott, and his wife, Erica, both 32; and the couple's two children, Olivia, 5, and Nathan, 3, inside the elder Andersons' Carnation home.

Mike Carter: 206-464-3706 or

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