By Natalie Johnson / email@example.com
For the court system, a lengthy investigation by detectives capped off by a guilty plea is a legally satisfactory conclusion to the case of a fatal shooting last December in Centralia.
But for the victim’s family, moving on is much more complicated.
“Ty was my only son and I miss him every day,” Linda Anderson said Wednesday. “Nothing will ever make it better. He’s gone and I don’t understand why.”
Before sentencing Janet L. Anderson, 40, who pleaded guilty Sept. 13 to second-degree murder and two counts of tampering with physical evidence in the December death of her husband Ty Anderson, to 220 months in prison, Superior Court Judge Andrew Toynbee shared a similar sentiment.
“I’m not sure I’m any closer to understanding why this occurred,” he said. “I don’t know if we did know the answer that it would be a satisfying one.”
Once released, Anderson will spend 36 months on state Department of Corrections community custody. She will also be required to undergo an evaluation and recommended treatment for anger management.
Lewis County deputy prosecutor Will Halstead and defense attorney Shane O’Rourke, on behalf of his client, who did not speak Wednesday, agreed on the recommended sentence — the maximum sentence given the crime and Anderson’s criminal history, according to the state’s standard sentencing guidelines.
While the attorneys on either side agreed upon the recommended sentence, Halstead and O’Rourke each took a moment to address the court to provide explanation and context for the conclusion of the case.
“Mrs. Anderson acted out of jealousy and rage,” Halstead said.
According to court documents, Anderson drove to the Centralia Police Department, parked outside and called 911 at about 8:30 a.m. Dec. 17. She told dispatchers she shot her husband the previous night in the bedroom of their Centralia home.
Anderson reported that she and husband were arguing for several hours before he threatened her with a gun and told police she shot him in self-defense.
After the shooting, she cleaned up the body and wrapped it in a tarp and a bed sheet, “so he wouldn’t be cold,” according to court documents.
However, investigators soon found reason to doubt her version of events.
They identified four shots fired from Janet Anderson’s 38-caliber handgun. The first two missed their target — one went through a window and an outbuilding before hitting one of the couple’s cars while the second went through a cabinet and lodged in a stud.
The next two shots hit Ty Anderson in the back and the neck. Both would have been fatal, Halstead said. The fact that Anderson was shot with his back to his wife didn’t support her assertion of self-defense.
Investigators also came to believe Janet Anderson moved her husband’s gun, placing it next to him after he was already dead.
She also allegedly cleaned the crime scene and attempted to fill a bullet hole before calling police the next morning.
“I do think in altering some of these things there was a period of panic,” O’Rourke said.
Detectives also learned Janet Anderson attempted to call the woman she suspected of having an affair with her husband twice on the day of the murder.
“It gives the state motive,” Halstead said.
He said the Prosecutor’s Office considered amending Anderson’s charge from second-degree to first-degree murder, adding an element of premeditation.
Halstead said all of the evidence was “disturbing,” but said he believed the most disturbing part was that when the couple’s teenage son unknowingly spent the night in the same house with his murdered father that night.
Anderson rejected the state’s first offer at a plea deal, Halstead said. The condition of the current plea deal was the 220-month sentence.
O’Rourke said his client chose to plead guilty to avoid the possible first-degree murder charge and to spare her family from a trial.
“My client really did not want under any circumstance to see a situation in which family members would be participants in a criminal trial,” he said.
Members of Ty Anderson’s family spoke about his life Wednesday before Toynbee imposed a sentence, describing him as a hard-worker who loved his family. They worried about the two children now left without parents.
“My son has two wonderful kids,” Linda Anderson said. “It’s for these children that we have to go on.”