POWELL TRIAL BLOG: Alleged victims testify in Steven Powell trial

Posted at 7:47 AM, May 09, 2012

UPDATE 5:51 p.m. PST: Outside of court, Anne Bremner, the attorney for the teenage victims in this case and the Cox family, said she is proceeding with her public records request from the Pierce Co. Sheriff's Office and the West Valley City Police Dept. for files related to the investigation into Susan Cox Powell's disappearance.

Bremner said Pierce Co. has complied with her request, promising to let her see their investigative files after the trial. The deadline for West Valley City police to respond is today. So far, she said, she has not seen any response.

Bremner told FOX 13 she is contemplating a lawsuit if they do not comply.

UPDATE 3:29 p.m. PST:  JH is nervous. She says she was 8 when she moved next door to Steven Powell.

She cannot pick him out in the courtroom.

"I guess you could see Mr. Powell's house if you looked out, but it's far away," she said.

JH said she left the bathroom door open because she was scared, but felt safe with the windows open "because it was my house." She said she never gave permission to be photographed.

The defense has no questions for JH. Her sister, AH is called to the stand next. She testifies that she had no knowledge anyone could see her or photograph her.

The defense does not cross examine her.

No more witnesses today. The West Valley City Police Department will testify on Monday.

UPDATE 3:16 p.m. PST:  DC says her children are ages 13 and 15. She moved to Washington from Arizona in 2006.

She drew a diagram of the home's layout for the jury, pointing out her home and its proximity to Steven Powell's home. DC said she never "formally" met the neighbors. She pointed out Steven Powell as the man she waved to when he mowed the lawn. She did not know his name.

"Did you ever leave the blinds up or the window open?" prosecutor Bryce Nelson asks DC.

"Yes," she said, explaining that they had no air conditioning.

"Did you ever give permission to anyone to film your kids inside your house?" Nelson asked her.

"Absolutely not," DC replied.

Nelson asked about when Pierce Co. Sheriff's deputies approached her. She said she came home to find a police officer in front of her house.

"He explained to me that when we lived in our rental house, our neighbor had been taking pictures of us," DC said.

Nelson asked her to look at pictures allegedly taken by Steven Powell. She wipes away tears as the jury is shown the images on the screen and she is asked to identify her daughters.

"That's JH," she said. "That's AH."

The prosecution finishes questioning her. Defense attorney Mark Quigley asks if she ever had any contact with Steven Powell. She said no.

"You never saw Mr. Powell looking out that window at your house?" Quigley asks her.

"No," DC replies.

DC explained the bathroom door was typically left open because she did not like being alone.

"She was always scared," DC said.

She is excused as a witness.

UPDATE 2:53 p.m. PST: Before "DC," the mother of the alleged victims in the case, begins her testimony, there is debate in the courtroom about whether the testimony will be broadcast.

"I think we're all kind of leery of being photographed," DC tells the judge.

The judge bans video of the woman, but allows her voice to be broadcast. The alleged victims, AH and JH, were both brought into the courtroom, to ask if they give their consent.

Both victims refused to give their consent to have their voices broadcast.

DC is called to the witness stand.

UPDATE 2:32 p.m. PST:  The jury is being shown pictures of Steven Powell's home and neighborhood in Puyallup, Wash.

Prosecutors are trying to show that the victims' pictures could not have been taken from the street, only from Steven Powell's bedroom.

Detective Sanders previously described a series of pictures found on the disc. He also described a series of pictures of Steven Powell, which depict him exposing himself and masturbating.

The prosecution finished questioning Det. Sanders. Mark Quigley, Steven Powell's attorney, began his cross-examination by asking about the roots of the search warrant and where police found the disc (inside a cardboard box in Steven's bedroom).

Quigley asks who else lives in the home. Sanders names John, Josh, Alina and Charlie and Braden Powell. The defense attorney pressed the detective about whether there was anything that constituted child pornography, or if anyone had ever viewed the CD.

Quigley said there is no evidence the images were downloaded or shared online. Nor is there information that the images were taken on different days. Could they have been taken on the same day?

"It's possible," Sanders said.

Cross-examination finished. Under re-direct examination, prosecutors introduced pictures of the boxes that police seized. The pictures were taken in Steven Powell's bedroom. There are a lot of boxes piled up.

We also see inside the boxes. There are CDs and tapes.

After more questioning, Det. Sanders is finished as a witness. The mother of the alleged victim will testify next.

UPDATE 2:05 p.m. PST: As the slow process of cataloging the pictures is done, Steven Powell looks up at the screen and appears to be taking notes. His attorneys are, too.

The detective is identifying the alleged victims in the pictures. The process is painstakingly slow. The jury appears somewhat attentive, taking notes and looking at the images broadcast on the screen.

UPDATE 1:43 p.m. PST: The trial has resumed with Detective Gary Sanders back on the witness stand. He is showing the jury more pictures allegedly taken by Steven Powell.

UPDATE 11:59 a.m. PST: Det. Sanders is handed a series of 14 images, which are introduced into evidence.

They make up the 14 counts against Steven Powell.

Sanders described how he identified the alleged victims, showing some images to their mother. He described to the jury the proximity of the area, drawing a map.

"The only way it could have been is through his window," Sanders said, demonstrating the camera angles on a map.

The judge called a lunch recess.

UPDATE 11:44 a.m. PST:  "She's watching her hair and taking a bath," Det. Sanders said as he scrolled through thousands of images of Steven Powell's neighbor girls using the bathroom.

The images loop and zoom in on the alleged victims' genitals.

"Another day, different clothing," he said as he scrolled through more photographs.

Steven Powell is watching the images from the opposite side of the room as the jury. He is showing little emotion.

UPDATE 11:25 a.m. PST: Pierce County Sheriff's detective Gary Sanders is describing the roots of the search warrant served on Steven Powell's home in Puyallup, Wash.

He was assisting West Valley City police who served the warrant. Police from Utah pointed out what they found after it was analyzed.

A screen was pulled up so the jury could see the images Sanders was talking about. The courtroom gallery could not see the images.

"It's through a window," Det. Sanders said, describing the images. "You can see a female sitting on the toilet."

The jurors did not appear to show any immediate reaction to the pictures as Det. Sanders scrolled through them. They were looped, the detective said.

"There's another image of her using the bathroom," Sanders said.

He scrolled through thousands of images of the girls. The detective said the person who took the pictures zoomed in on the victims' genital areas.

UPDATE 11:03 a.m. PST: Prosecutor Bryce Nelson begins his opening statements by describing the victims who moved to Washington state, in Steven Powell's neighborhood.

"This case is about a secret. A secret that was kept for five years," Nelson said. "That secret? That Steven Powell was a voyeur."

Nelson told the jury that the search was initiated by Pierce Co. Sheriff's deputies, as well as West Valley City police. The images were analyzed in Utah.

"The evidence will show the girls were photographed by the defendant, Steven Powell," Nelson said, urging the jury to find Powell guilty of 14 counts of voyeurism.

Defense attorney Mark Quigley began his statements by bringing up Susan Cox Powell and Josh Powell.

"That's not what this case is about," he told the jury.

Quigley reminded the jury that the state has the burden of proof, telling the jury he will not put on any evidence nor will Steven Powell testify.

Pierce Co. Sheriff's Det. Gary Sanders now on the witness stand.

UPDATE 10:33 a.m. PST: The judge has ruled that the mother and the victims in this case will not be identified publicly. They will only be identified by their initials to protect their privacy.

Anne Bremner, the attorney for the victims, asks the judge that they not be filmed. Judge Culpepper allows photography of police officers and will address other witnesses throughout the trial.

The defense again asks the judge to question jurors to see if they have seen any news reports of the trial.

UPDATE 10:20 a.m. PST: Prosecutors want to introduce a file titled "SMP" taken in 2006. "SMP" is "Susan Marie Powell" (Susan Cox Powell). Prosecutors also want to show pictures Steven Powell allegedly took of himself urinating and masturbating.

Defense attorneys objected, saying it is prejudicial to the jury. Judge Culpepper asks if it's enough to just show a picture of Powell in the mirror. Prosecutors contended that he was not engaged in innocuous behavior.

Judge Culpepper ruled that one of the folders to be admitted. Defense attorneys conceded that some of the titles on the disc may be what Steven Powell titled them, but object to their admission in court.

The judge allowed more images to be admitted.

Addressing the file "SMP," prosecutors offered to remove Susan Cox Powell's name from witness testimony but rather refer to her as an "adult female."

Defense attorneys objected to introduce it entirely, saying it was extremely prejudicial.

"There is no way to sanitize this," defense attorney Travis Currie said.

Judge Culpepper ruled that Susan Cox Powell is not a charged victim in this case and therefore, they will not be admitted into trial.

"He's not charged with that here," the judge said. "Just because you take the name out doesn't make it any better."

He also does the same for some images of Steven Powell performing sex acts on himself to pictures of Susan. The judge did allow other pictures Steven Powell took of himself to be admitted.

UPDATE 9:52 a.m. PST: Defense attorneys are objecting to the descriptions of the files being read to the jury, since they clearly do not match what the images really are. The images are of girls in the neighborhood walking, with closeups on their legs and other body parts.

Steven Powell is watching the images as they are flashed on the screen.

Another set of 702 images show a neighbor girl in her room. She is changing clothes. Prosecutors say they were shot from inside Steven Powell's home without her knowledge.

UPDATE 9:35 a.m. PST: Pierce Co. Sheriff's Detective Gary Sanders was called to the witness stand.

Prosecutor Grant Blinn hands him a disc and asks if it contains images seized from Steven Powell's home.

He begins going through the first images, entitled "girl masturbating." All it shows is a girl sitting in a car, drinking a soda pop, with her hand on her lap.

"Although it's titled that, it appears it is not that," prosecutor Grant Blinn said.

The next images was titled "neighbors." It shows a girl walking a dog through the neighborhood. The camera focuses on their legs. Briefly, a picture of Steven Powell in his underwear popped up.

UPDATE 9:16 a.m. PST: "All rise!" the clerk says. "Court is now in session." The Steven Powell trial has begun.

UPDATE 9:13 a.m. PST: Prosecutors have raised concerns about identifying the alleged victims in this case, but it appears the screen they had set up was impractical. Now, it has been set up where everyone will be able to view it.

UPDATE 8:59 a.m. PST: Chuck Cox, the father of Susan Cox Powell, stood near the front row of the courtroom as Steven Powell was led in. He is now seated n the courtroom with his attorney, Anne Bremner. She is also representing the girls whom Steven Powell allegedly photographed.

Alina Powell, Steven's daughter, is sitting a couple of rows behind them.

UPDATE 8:47 a.m. PST: Court workers have brought in a big projector screen to show the images that Steven Powell allegedly took. They claim the gallery will not be visible to the gallery, but only to the jury.

However, given the size of the courtroom, it is difficult to find a place to put the screen without having the gallery view the images.

UPDATE 8:16 a.m. PST: Judge Ronald Culpepper said he anticipates opening statements to begin around 10 a.m. PST. First, lawyers will be arguing over what pictures to admit that Steven Powell allegedly took.

Witnesses who will testify today are expected to include a Pierce County Sheriff's detective, the girls that Steven Powell is accused of photographing, and their mother. Witnesses from Utah (including West Valley City police and Jennifer Graves, Steven Powell's daughter) will testify on Monday.

TACOMA -- Opening statements will be made this morning in the voyeurism trial of Steven Powell.

A jury of seven men and seven women (12 members of the jury, plus two alternates) was selected late Tuesday.

Powell scored another victory in court when Judge Ronald Culpepper prohibited prosecutors from introducing sexually explicit journal entries he wrote in 2003, 2004 and 2010, detailing his infatuation with Susan Cox Powell.

"It does open up the disappearance of Susan Powell," the judge said, explaining his reasons for keeping it out.

Powell is charged specifically with taking inappropriate pictures of neighbor girls, not Susan The judge did allow one journal entry to be shown to the jury, one that describes why he allegedly takes pictures of girls and women and his sexual compulsions.

"The journals are helping with the voice of Susan and it links how sick of a person he is," Denise Cox, the sister of Susan Cox Powell told FOX 13 outside of court on Tuesday. "It shows character, his character. He might as well toss out the case if he's not going to allow anything like the journals and tossing out the porn."

Defense attorneys told prospective jurors the trial of Steven Powell has nothing to do with Susan's disappearance. Susan Cox Powell is, however, on images and video seized from Powell's Puyallup home last year. West Valley City police served a search warrant on the Powell home looking for diaries in connection with her 2009 disappearance from Utah.

In a graphic filing, prosecutors described what they found on Steven Powell's computers. They include videos that depict Powell performing sexual acts on himself to images of Susan, as well as videos of Susan that prosecutors claim were taken without her knowledge.

Read the prosecution filing here. WARNING: Extremely GRAPHIC content!

After opening statements are made, the jury will hear the first witnesses. A Pierce Co. Sheriff's detective is expected to be called first, followed by the mother of the girls that Powell is accused of photographing without their knowledge.

Powell is on trial on 14 counts of voyeurism. The judge dismissed the child pornography charge on Monday.

Follow this blog throughout the day for updates from the trial, or get live updates from FOX 13's Ben Winslow on Twitter.