A judge says prosecutors can't seek the death penalty against a man and a woman accused of killing six members of a Carnation, Wash., family on Christmas Eve 2007.
Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Ramsdell ruled Thursday that the King County prosecutor's office made a mistake in considering the strength of its evidence in deciding to seek the death penalty against Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe.
The judge says the strength of the evidence can't be applied to a death penalty decision because that violates equal protection provisions. The judge says the strength of the evidence can vary from case to case, leading to different results.
Anderson and McEnroe are charged with aggravated murder, accused of killing Anderson's parents, her brother and sister-in-law and her young niece and nephew.
Some Carnation residents are split on the ruling.
“Somebody needs to die,” said one man.
“It was a pretty horrific murder, and I could see why people would want to seek the death penalty, but it seems like life in prison would be fine to keep them out of society’s grasp,” said another.
The prosecutor's office says it believes the ruling is wrong and plans to appeal.
Statement by King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg on the ruling:
We are deeply sympathetic to the families that have waited more than five years for this case to go to trial.
We will appeal today's decision to remove the death penalty in this case. We believe it is wrong. We will appeal on behalf of the six lives lost in this crime and because of the potential impact on all aggravated murder cases throughout the state - past, present and future.