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Man Convicted in Family Massacre Spared Death Penalty

James McEnroe was convicted of fatally shooting six members of his girlfriend's family, including two children, in Carnation, Washington, in 2007.

A Seattle jury on Wednesday spared the life of a man convicted of killing six members of his girlfriend’s family, but sentenced Joseph McEnroe to spend the rest of his days in prison without the possibility of parole.

McEnroe was convicted in March on six counts of aggravated first-degree murder the killings of his girlfriend’s parents, her brother and sister-in-law, and that couple’s 3- and 5-year-old children in Carnation, Washington, in 2007.

Prosecutors pushed for the death penalty, but defense attorneys argued McEnroe was mentally ill. The jury could not come to a unanimous decision to sentence him to death, and he was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, NBC station KING5 reported.

McEnroe’s former girlfriend, Michele Anderson is also charged in the killings and is awaiting trial. Prosecutors say she has admitted her involvement in the murders in the town 20 miles east of Seattle, which they said were the result of her family's having slighted her.

According to court documents, McEnroe and Anderson were both armed when they went to the home of Anderson’s parents, Judy and Wayne Anderson, on Christmas Eve. McEnroe fatally shot them both.

Michele Anderson allegedly shot her brother, Scott Anderson, and his wife, Erica Anderson, several times, wounding them. McEnroe then fatally shot them both as well as their two children, 5-year-old Olivia and 3-year-old Nathan, according to court documents.

McEnroe's lawyers argued that McEnroe was under the control of Anderson.

Pam Mantle, Erica Anderson's mother, told reporters after the verdict that the pain of losing her family is still fresh.

"I still go through it daily," she told reporters after the sentence was read Wednesday. "It hasn’t changed in 7 ½ years, for me.

"He has no respect for anybody. He had no respect for the two people that were the kindest to him, which were Wayne and Judy, who took him in, and he shot them and threw them in the back yard," Mantle said. "I have nothing to say about him."


— Phil Helsel

The Associated Press contributed to this report.