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SEATTLE – More than seven years after six family members were gunned down on Christmas Eve in a small farming town east of Seattle, the trial began Tuesday for one of two people charged in the deaths.
In opening statements, King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Scott O'Toole told jurors at least 16 rounds were fired inside the Carnation home, and there was no doubt the person who committed the crime was Joe McEnroe.
McEnroe and his former girlfriend, Michele Anderson, are accused of shooting her parents, brother, sister-in-law, 5-year-old niece and 3-year-old nephew in 2007. McEnroe and Anderson are each charged with six counts of aggravated murder.
Jurors dabbed their eyes as the prosecutor described the killings in graphic detail. Relatives of the victims were present in the Seattle courtroom.
O'Toole said jurors would hear a lot of difficult information but nothing to explain the "callousness" of the slayings, the Seattle Times reported (http://goo.gl/0VCFfQ).
Defense attorney Leo Hamaji told jurors that McEnroe was coerced by his mentally ill girlfriend into killing the family. Hamaji asked jurors to keep an open mind and said McEnroe lacked the "psychological wherewithal" to escape Michele Anderson's influence.
"He did not premeditate this," Hamaji said.
The King County sheriff's office said McEnroe and Anderson first shot her parents, Wayne and Judy Anderson, and dragged the bodies from the home to a backyard shed, according to court documents. The two shot Anderson's brother, Scott, his wife, Erica, and their two children soon after when they arrived for dinner.
McEnroe and Anderson had been living in a mobile on her parents' rural property about 30 miles east of Seattle, where the shootings occurred.
Anderson's trial was delayed by questions about her competency. It is scheduled for the fall.
Information from: The Seattle Times, http://www.seattletimes.com