Steven Powell gets 30-month sentence in voyeurism case
The only question Steven Craig Powell faced Friday was time, as in prison time and how much of it.
The answer: 30 months, the sentence handed down in Pierce County Superior Court for 12 counts of voyeurism.
Factoring in credit for time served, Powell, 62, will spend roughly one year and eight months behind bars.
The other question did Steven know what happened to Susan Cox Powell, his missing daughter-in-law - went unasked and unanswered.
A thorny courtroom debate preceded the sentencing. Steven Powell took videos of two young girls, 9 and 8, as they bathed and played. They didnt know they were being filmed. Powell shot the footage with a zoom lens in 2006 and 2007, according to court records.
Did the videos reflect a series of separate acts, each worthy of a criminal charge? Or were they single but continuing acts, worth only a single charge for each victim?
Judge Ronald Culpepper mulled a defense argument that cited past convictions for similar crimes in the county.
The longest sentence from those earlier cases was about nearly nine months, for a defendant charged with 16 counts of voyeurism.
Powell, whatever his faults, deserved a similar sentence, his attorneys argued. Deputy prosecutor Grant Blinn countered that Powell had shown no remorse for his crimes, and never admitted his behavior was wrong.
Calling Powell, the ultimate creep of a neighbor, Culpepper settled on the 30-month sentence, a bit closer to what the defense sought, and much less than the 10 years prosecutors hoped for.
I think its appropriate for him to be punished for what he did. Not what somebody suspects, Culpepper said. Mr. Powell obviously has a long-standing sexual deviance. Theres something seriously wrong with Mr. Powells view of women in the world.
The defendant declined to speak during the hearing, even when Culpepper suggested people would be curious to hear what he might say.
Powell walked into a new legal battle just by entering the room. Seattle Attorney Anne Bremner served him with legal papers: a civil lawsuit alleging general outrage based on Powells criminal acts.
The trial and conviction is one piece of a larger story.
Powells daughter-in-law, Susan Powell, has been missing since December 2009. His son, Josh Powell, was suspected of involvement in her disappearance, but the truth is still a mystery. Josh Powell set fire to his South Hill home on Feb. 5,
killed his two young sons and then himself.
The evidence that led to the voyeurism charges against Steven Powell a vast cache of stored images - grew out of a search for evidence that might have shed light on Susan Powells disappearance.
No one uttered the names of Susan and Josh during Fridays hearing, but they haunted the courtroom. Defense attorney
Mark Quigley took note, gesturing toward an audience packed with journalists and cameras.
All these people are here basically for one reason and thats because of the notoriety of this case, he said. I would ask that that not be considered. I would ask you not to punish Mr. Powell for the conduct of his son.
The mother of the two young victims, identified only by her initials, spoke briefly, addressing Powell directly.
I am so angry. Im angry for the hurt that youve caused my children, she said. They did nothing to you. But youve stolen their sense of security. You didnt have to see them crushed and cringing as they realized what their disgusting neighbor was doing. Shame on you. Shame on you for not admitting that what you did was wrong.
After the hearing, Steven Powells daughter, Alina, defended his decision to say nothing. If he denied wrongdoing, people wouldnt believe him, she said. If he apologized, they wouldnt believe him.
I think in this case theres nothing to say. Theres nothing you can say, she said. This is too politicized and too publicized.
Chuck Cox, Susans father, who has spent the last three years fighting for answers to her disappearance, viewed the outcome wearily. He continues to believe Steven Powell knows more than he has said a suspicion shared by police in Utah, who continue to investigate the case.
Im not surprised, Cox said. I didnt expect a lot of justice here but Im pleased that hes been sentenced for something.
Deputy Prosecutor Grant Blinn said prosecutors and defense attorneys never discussed a possible trade of information regarding Susan Powell in exchange for a lighter sentence.
They never offered, and we didnt ask, he said.