September 28, 2013 in Region

King County death penalty case sees costs soar

Associated Press

SEATTLE – Legal costs continue to rise in a death penalty case against two people accused of killing a family of six in Carnation on Christmas Eve 2007.

The cost of prosecuting and defending Michele Anderson and Joseph McEnroe is now approaching a combined $7 million, the Seattle Times reported. It is likely to rise much higher, as no firm trial date is in sight for either defendant.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg told KOMO-TV that he believes the cost of pursuing the death penalty is justified.

“We’re willing to stick it out to find justice for the six people who were murdered in this case,” Satterberg said. “And yes, it costs a lot of money. And yes, it takes too long, and those are frustrations that we share.”

Dave Chapman, who leads the office that oversees the defense team, said capital murder cases involve a lot of work by experienced lawyers.

“No stone should be unturned when a person’s life is at stake,” he said.

The bulk of the cost has come from defending Anderson and McEnroe. Satterberg’s office has spent more than $800,000 on the case. The costs don’t include expenses related to the King County Sheriff’s Office investigation, and it doesn’t include the cost of holding the defendants in jail.

Anderson and McEnroe 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. Authorities have said the killings were motivated, in part, by money and family strife.

Earlier this month, the state Supreme Court said prosecutors can seek the death penalty against the defendants.

From 2001 to 2003, King County spent more than $12 million on the investigation of Gary Ridgway, the now-convicted murderer responsible for the Green River killings, according to the Times.

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