State Supreme Court takes up Carnation death penalty case

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- The death penalty argument in the 2007 {A href=""}Carnation killings has seesawed all the way to the state Supreme Court, racking up huge costs for taxpayers and the family of the murder victims.

More than six years after the Christmas Eve murders of her grandchildren, daughter, son-in-law and his parents, Pam Mantle is back in court for yet another pretrial proceeding. She's lost count how many she's been to over the years.

"Over a hundred. I've quit adding it up," she said.

With no trial date on the calendar, costs to taxpayers for defending and prosecuting accused killers Joe McEnroe and Michelle Anderson continue to climb.

"We must be getting over the $7.5 million to $8 million at this point," Mantle said.

On Thursday, King County prosecutors -- who have already spent about $810,000 on the case -- went before the state Supreme Court to ask for the death penalty to be put back on the table and for the current judge to be removed from the case.

Mantle can't believe the number of delays McEnroe and Anderson are receiving after allegedly gunning down Anderson's parents and four others.

"It's kind of like 'Groundhog Day,' where it keeps going over and over and over," she said.

Mantle lives with many mind-numbing numbers -- countless hours of lost sleep and lost time with her murdered grandchildren Olivia and Nathan.

"Intolerable months and days and weeks and years," she said. "And we're still arguing about whether Joseph McEnroe is a poor, sad soul or whether he's a monster that kills children."

Olivia would be 12-years old this year and Nathan would be going into 4th grade.

This was the Supreme Court's last argument for the session, and the attorneys say, based on history, it will be a few months before there's a ruling.

The only other King County case that cost more money leading up to trial was the investigation and prosecution of the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway, which cost $12 million.