Crime

Steven Powell sentenced to 5 years in prison for child pornography for photos he took of neighbors

Steven Powell, who has served 30 months in prison for voyeurism of neighbor girls, was sentenced to another five years Friday for possession of child pornography for the photos he took through the girls’ bathroom window.

Powell provided no explanation or apology. Instead, he lashed out at authorities for searching his South Hill home in 2011 while investigating the 2009 disappearance in Utah of Susan Cox Powell, his daughter-in-law, formerly of Puyallup.

Steven Powell’s son, Josh, who authorities believe killed his wife, was living with his father when the house was searched. Josh Powell later killed himself along with the couple’s two young sons in his Graham-area home.

Instead of accounting for his own conduct, Steven Powell, 65, peered over his reading glasses to recite several pages of sordid details and allegations concerning the investigation from a prepared statement.

His leg irons clinked when he stood. He gestured around the courtroom from the defense lawyer he called ineffective to a Pierce County sheriff’s detective he said helped conjure a reason to raid his home out of vindictiveness.

“I’m standing here today due to one egregious lie,” Powell said.

The 2011 search did not result in murder charges in the disappearance of his wife against Josh Powell, but it did reveal evidence the family patriarch used a telephoto lens to take photos of the girls, ages 8 and 9, from his bedroom window, which looked onto their bathroom, court filings say.

In 2012, a jury convicted him of 12 counts of voyeurism, but two related child-pornography counts were tossed out after Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper ruled the photos and videos of the girls’ bathroom acts were not “sexually explicit.”

The state Court of Appeals reversed that finding in 2014. Steven Powell was arrested again and found guilty after another jury trial.

As lawyers argued over his child pornography sentence Friday, Powell drummed his fingers against a table, glanced around the courtroom and took his glasses off repeatedly.

When asked to sign an agreement to have no contact with one of the victims — identified by her initials — he turned to defense attorney Travis Currie in apparent confusion.

“Who the hell is (the girl’s initials)?” he asked.

Judge Frank E. Cuthbertson informed Powell that his self-centered worldview had much to do with the reason he was going to prison.

“You are so narcissistic that you indulged your own pleasures at the expense of your neighbors and their children,” Cuthbertson said. “That’s why you’re standing here today.”

Powell, who told the court he has no assets and a $1 million default judgment against him from a lawsuit over the voyeurism, was then led by deputies back to prison.

Derrick Nunnally: 253-597-8693

derrick.nunnally@thenewstribune.com

@dcnunnally

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