Crime

Appeals court reinstates criminal charge against Steven Powell

Staff writerJune 10, 2014 

Steven Powell

COURTESY WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS

The Washington State Court of Appeals has ordered a dismissed criminal charge reinstated against Steven Powell, setting the stage for more courtroom drama in a case that’s already seen its share of it.

Powell, 64, has completed the terms of a 30-month prison sentence he received after being convicted of multiple counts of voyeurism in 2012 for photographing two school-aged neighbor girls as they bathed and used the toilet.

Powell is the father of Joshua Powell, who killed his two sons and himself in Pierce County in 2012 while being investigated in the disappearance and presumed murder of his wife, Susan Cox Powell. Her disappearance remains unsolved.

Steve Powell is living in the Tacoma area and is being monitored as a sex offender.

Before trial, he also had been charged with one count of second-degree possession of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct, but Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper ordered the charge dismissed.

Pierce County prosecutors appealed the decision, saying Culpepper relied on an outdated statutory definition of “sexually explicit conduct” when deciding to dismiss that count.

In an opinion released Tuesday, the three-judge appellate panel, in an opinion written by Judge Lisa Worswick, agreed with the county, saying Powell’s alleged conduct meets the new definition.

“Thus, we reverse the trial court’s ... dismissal of the charge of second-degree possession of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct and remand for reinstatement of this charge and further proceedings,” the opinion shows.

Prosecutor Mark Lindquist said Powell has 30 days to appeal the ruling to the Washington State Supreme Court. If he does not, prosecutors will summons Powell to court to be arraigned on the charge. Should Powell be convicted on the reinstated charge, he would face up to five years in prison.

Lindquist said his office would argue that a new sentence be served consecutively to the 30-month sentence Powell already has served, which would mean another stretch in prison for Powell.

Powell’s new defense attorney likely would argue that the sentence to ordered to run concurrently with his 30-month sentence, meaning Powell would not have to do more prison time.

“We’re confident the law supports a consecutive sentence,” Lindquist said Tuesday.

Powell’s original trial drew media attention from across the country, and his release from prison and efforts to find a place to live in Pierce County were the subject of numerous news stories in the Puget Sound area and in Utah, where his son and daughter-in-law lived at the time of her disappearance.

Adam Lynn: 253-597-8644 adam.lynn@thenewstribune.com

 

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