A Washington state prosecutor will ask a judge to sentence Steve Powell to 10 years in prison for taking photographs of two former neighbor girls as they were undressed in their home.
That would be almost double or triple the amount of prison called for in Washington's sentencing guidelines. Powell, who is the father-in-law of missing West Valley City woman Susan Cox Powell, was convicted earlier this month of 14 counts of voyeurism. Sentencing is scheduled for June 15 in Pierce County, Wash., Superior Court in Tacoma.
The prosecutor, Grant Blinn, said earlier this week in an email to The Salt Lake Tribune he will ask for 10 years. Blinn did not specify why.
Steve Powell's attorney, Travis Currie, said he'll ask for something less than 10 years.
"We believe that would be an excessive sentence based on his history and these charges based on other like cases," Currie said.
A jury found Steve Powell photographed two girls, then ages 9 and 8, through an open widow as they bathed and used the toilet in their home. The photographs were taken in 2006.
Steve Powell faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison on each of the counts, but Washington sentencing guidelines recommend Powell receive between 43 and 57 months in prison.
Washington law allows a judge to exceed those guidelines for aggravating circumstances, including being convicted of nine or more counts.
Steve Powell is a first-time offender, and his attorneys are likely to raise that point in his favor at sentencing. Steve Powell has been in jail since his arrest in September and may receive credit towards his sentence for that time served.
Currie argued at trial the state hadn't proven Powell took the photos for sexual gratification. Currie also tried to cast doubt that Powell himself took the images, pointing out Powell shared his Puyallup home with several other relatives including a son with a mental illness.
Although police never would have found the photographs without investigating Susan Powell's disappearance, she is unlikely to be discussed at sentencing. In his email, Blinn said only evidence presented at trial will be an issue at the hearing.
"Anything relating to Susan Powell and the investigation into her disappearance will not be mentioned," Blinn wrote.
Documents made public at trial revealed the depth of Steve Powell's obsession with Susan Powell, from peeping on and photographing her in states of undress while she lived in his home to writing in his journals how he fantasized sexually for her.
The jury, however, heard little about those materials or about Susan Powell. Prosecutors did not file charges related to those photographs because Susan Powell was not present to testify and time limits to file those charges had lapsed. A judge banned testimony about the search for Susan Powell so as to not prejudice the jury.
Susan Powell disappeared from her West Valley City home Dec. 6, 2009. Her husband, Josh Powell, was the only person of interest in the case, though charges were never filed.
On Feb. 5 of this year, Josh Powell murdered his two sons, 6-year-old Charlie and 4-year-old Braden, and killed himself by setting fire to his rented home in Graham, Wash.
Susan Powell's family believes Steve Powell knows what happened to her. They say Steve Powell has not cooperated in finding his daughter-in-law other than to offer a theory that she ran away. Prosecutors have offered no deals in exchange for Steve Powell's cooperation.
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