Steve Powell sentenced to 30 months in prison

Posted at 8:50 AM, Jun 15, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-16 00:34:17-04

UPDATE 7:04 pm PST: In an interview with FOX 13 after the verdict, Susan's father, Chuck Cox, said he would like Pierce County prosecutors to bring more criminal charges against Steven Powell.

She was considered by prosecutors to be a victim of Powell's voyeurism, but the judge forbade mention of her at trial.

"There's still a case, I believe, that Susan was criminally violated as well," he said. "And I think there should be a case for that."

Cox told FOX 13 he is contemplating a lawsuit against West Valley City police over their handling of the investigation of the disappearance of his daughter, and the deaths of his grandchildren at the hands of their "person of interest," Josh Powell.

"We were constantly expecting them to arrest Josh at any time," he said. "It was like, a daily, weekly thing that we were expecting any day to hear that he'd been arrested."

Instead, Josh Powell killed himself and his children, Charlie and Braden, in an explosion and house fire on Feb. 5.

"We believe they had all the evidence they needed, but they just failed to make that arrest, failed to take that step that they needed and as a result our grandchildren are dead," Cox told FOX 13.

A West Valley City police spokesman said they had no comment on any potential lawsuit. The city has denied record requests made by Cox's attorney, Anne Bremner. She said she is still in the appeals process on that.

UPDATE 6:51 pm PST: Steven Powell's defense attorneys tell FOX 13 they have formally appealed his conviction and sentence.

UPDATE 4:10 pm PST: Judge Ron Culpeper sentenced Steve Powell to 30 months in prison and to serve 36 months in community custody (probation) on his conviction of 12 counts of voyeurism charges.

Powell will be credited almost a year's time he spent in jail that led up to his trial.

"There's very good reason to think that Josh Powell caused the death of his wife," Judge Culpepper said. "People want someone to be punished."

But, the judge cautioned, people should be punished for what they did. He noted that Steven Powell has a sexual deviancy, and said he should serve more than what is typical for voyeurism cases. However, he called prosecutors' request for 10 years "excessive."

"Mr. Powell should be punished for what he did," the judge said.

With the 30 month sentence, Powell could be released as early as September 2013 with good behavior and credit for time served.

UPDATE 3:03 pm PST:"I have yet to hear you apologize," the mother of the two girls Powell photographed told him. "You sat there smugly, as if it's perfectly normal to commit your crimes."

The woman became increasingly upset as she read from a prepared statement.

"I'm so angry!" she said. "I'm so angry for the hurt you caused my children."

The woman said her children worry that this will stay with them for the rest of their lives, and worry that the images Powell took of him will get out into the public domain.

"Shame on you!" she said. "I have no pity. They have to forever carry this with them."

She ended by pleading with the judge to give Powell the maximum sentence in order to ensure that he does not harm others. Powell showed no emotion as the woman returned to her seat, crying.

Defense attorneys have argued that the standard sentence for a crime like voyeurism is about 12 months. Lawyer Mark Quigley noted that Powell had no prior criminal history, is 62, and called him "a productive member of the community."

He said the girls in the case were never physically harmed.

"I'm sorry this happened to them," he said, urging the judge to consider the "big picture" when imposing sentence.

Quigley pointed out the notoriety of this case, referring to the disappearance of Susan Cox Powell, but told the judge: "Don't punish him for the actions of his son."

Judge Ron Culpeper asked if Powell had anything to say.

"No sir," Powell replied.

"A lot of people are curious about what you have to say," the judge said.

"No," Powell said.

The judge called a recess before pronouncing sentence.

UPDATE 2:28 pm PST: After reviewing the photographs defense claims are essentially the same, Judge Ron Culpepper vacated two counts against Steven Powell. He upheld the remaining 12 counts.

UPDATE 1:48 pm PST: Defense attorneys have asked the judge to dismiss 12 of the counts that Steven Powell was convicted of, arguing it is tantamount to double jeopardy.

"This could have all been taken on the same day," Travis Currie said, arguing that if the multiple photos came from a single session -- it should be one crime.

UPDATE 1:37 pm PST: Anne Bremner, the lawyer for the voyeurism victims, walked back into the jury room and served Steven Powell with a lawsuit on behalf of the teenage girls.

"I said, 'Here,' " she said.

The lawsuit is for wrongful acts, outrage, invasion of privacy, among other claims.

UPDATE 1:27 pm PST: Steve Powell, dressed in a gray jail jumpsuit, was led into a jury room. Attorneys in the case are sitting in the courtroom.

UPDATE 12:48 pm PST: The judge's clerk said motions will be considered first before the sentencing hearing.

The mother of the voyeurism victims has arrived at the courthouse.

UPDATE 12:38 pm PST: Chuck and Judy Cox have arrived at the courthouse.

UPDATE 12:33 pm PST:  Denise Cox, Susan Cox Powell's sister, has arrived at the courthouse.

Alina Powell, Steven Powell's daughter, has updated her website that attacks the prosecution's recommendations for the sentencing.

TACOMA, Washington -- Steven Powell faces up to 70 years in prison when he is sentenced today on 14 counts of voyeurism, although his sentence is expected to be much lighter.

Prosecutors and a pre-sentence report obtained by FOX 13 recommend he serve 10 years. Powell's defense attorneys have asked him to serve a year, with credit for time served -- meaning he could walk out the courthouse doors today. Defense appeals on the charges are likely.

Steven Powell will be given the opportunity to speak at sentencing, as will the teenaged girls he is accused of surreptitiously photographing. Their lawyer, Anne Bremner, is expected to serve him with a lawsuit after the sentencing.

Powell was convicted of taking photographs of two neighbor girls as they bathed, used the bathroom and changed clothes. He was arrested after police searched his Puyallup, Wash., home for clues in the 2009 disappearance of his daughter-in-law, Susan Cox Powell.

What police claimed to have found was computers filled with illicit images. Susan was among the many victims, prosecutors said. However, the judge kept mention of her out of trial, declaring it was not relevant to the case at hand. The jury deliberated about 6 hours before finding Powell guilty.

In the pre-sentence report, Washington state corrections officials detail Powell's obsession with his daughter-in-law.

“Mr. Powell wrote in practically every journal entry something about Susan Powell,” corrections officials wrote. “He noted how much he loved her and wanted to be with her and he penned on many different entries that he wished she and her husband Joshua would split up so that Mr. Powell could marry Susan.”

“One of the major overtones within the Journal entries was his sexual obsession with Susan,” the report said. “This writer lost count of the number of times Mr. Powell wrote about masturbating to pictures of and fantasies about Susan.”

Powell allegedly wrote that he believed Susan was falling in love with him.

Susan Cox Powell vanished from her West Valley City home in 2009. The pre-sentence report declares her death a “homicide,” citing Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies. West Valley City police have only called it a “missing persons” investigation. They have said her husband, Josh Powell, is a “person of interest” in her disappearance.

Josh Powell killed himself and their children in an explosion and house fire on Feb. 5.

Stay with FOX 13 and for more details from the sentencing.

Click here to access FOX 13's blog of the Steven Powell trial with court filings.