Josh Powell’s brother apparently died by suicide Monday by jumping off a parking garage in downtown Minneapolis.
Michael C. Powell, 30, leapt from the multistory structure about 2:25 p.m., police Sgt. Steve McCarty said. Five people saw the fall, according to police.
Michael Powell moved to Minnesota in 2010 and was a graduate student at the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus.
He was an ardent defender of his brother Josh, who killed himself and his two sons a year ago in an intentionally set house fire in Graham. Josh Powell was the only person of interest in the disappearance of his wife, Susan Powell, who was last seen Dec. 6, 2009, at the couple’s West Valley City, Utah, home.
He also fiercely defended their father, Steve Powell, who was convicted in May 2012 of voyeurism for surreptitious photographs he took of two girls who lived near his home in Puyallup. Steve Powell is serving a prison term in Monroe and is scheduled to be released in May.
In web posts, Michael Powell said he did not believe law enforcement had evidence to support the voyeurism charges then pending against his father, which he said had been fabricated to “inflict maximum damage to the Powell family’s reputation and long-term financial situation.”
At the time of his death, Michael Powell was embroiled in a legal battle in U.S. District Court for Western Washington with Susan Powell’s parents, Chuck and Judy Cox of Puyallup, over $1.5 million in insurance policies issued to Josh Powell and sons Charlie, 7, and Braden, 5.
About four months before his death, Josh Powell changed his policy to list Michael Powell, rather than his wife and a family trust, as the primary beneficiary. Michael Powell was to receive a 93 percent share, with 4 percent left to a sister, Alina Powell, and 3 percent to brother John.
In the event of Michael’s death, the proceeds were to be split equally between Alina Powell and their father. Josh Powell also made Michael Powell the secondary beneficiary on his sons’ policies.
Jennifer Graves, another sister, is estranged from her siblings.
Josh Powell changed the policies about a week after his father’s arrest and three days after his sons were placed in the temporary care of their maternal grandparents, the Coxes.
New York Life Insurance Co., which filed the court action, wants a federal judge to sort out whether the changes Josh Powell made to the policies are valid and payable, given the deaths of him and his children.
It also wants the court to decide what should happen with a $1 million policy in Susan Powell’s name.
Michael Powell filed a response in the cases Monday, objecting to the appointment in January of Chuck Cox as sole conservator of his daughter’s estate without any notice to him, which he alleged was required by trust documents.
In 2008, Michael Powell, then of Puyallup, ran as a Democrat against Republican Tom Campbell for the state House seat from the 2nd District. Campbell won with 58.3 percent to 41.7 percent of the vote.
On Tuesday, Campbell described Michael Powell as a “young, bright kid.”
“He had lots of energy,” Campbell said. “He seemed like a heck of a nice guy. Intelligent. I expected to see him again in politics.”
According to Michael Powell’s 2008 voters pamphlet statement, he was a Democratic National Convention delegate for Barack Obama in 2008.The News Tribune contributed to this report.