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The voyeurism and pornography trial for the father-in-law of missing West Valley City mother Susan Powell has been pushed back to March 2012.
A Pierce County Superior Court judge in Tacoma, Wash. on Thursday granted a motion to continue the Nov. 16 trial date scheduled for 61-year-old Steve Powell. The judge set a new tentative trial date of March 20 and continued a so-called omnibus hearing in the case to Jan 12. At that hearing the judge can rule if certain evidence will be admissible at trial.
Prosecutor Grant Blinn said Thursday the trial date was pushed back to allow Powell's recently appointed defense attorneys more time to prepare their case. Powell, who is being held in the Pierce County jail on a $200,000 cash or bond bail, did not appear in court, Blinn said.
Steve Powell is charged with 14 counts of voyeurism and one count of possessing an image of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct. Blinn said during a court hearing last month that Powell took images over a 10-year span, with the court case focusing on voyeurism episodes from 2006 and 2007.
Powell is being represented by attorneys Mark T. Quigley and Travis R. Currie. Both are attorneys with the Pierce County Department of Assigned Counsel.
Sheriff's deputies from Tacoma, Wash., arrested Powell on Sept. 22 after detectives from West Valley City served a search warrant on his Puyallup home, which he shared with his son, Josh; his grandsons; and his adult children Alina Powell and John Powell. Detectives were looking for potential evidence in the case of Susan Powell and found images of the woman taken surreptitiously by Steve Powell, prosecutors have alleged.
Steve Powell has said his daughter-in-law made sexual advances toward him allegations disputed by Susan Powell's friends and family. Powell made national television appearances where he stated that he had romantic feelings for his daughter-in-law and that he wished their relationship had been more intimate than it was.
Susan Powell had reportedly told her husband's sister, Jennifer Graves of West Jordan, that Steve Powell made her uncomfortable and sent her inappropriate nude photos of men in a package containing photos of her favorite movie star. Graves has said her sister-in-law also said that Steve Powell made remarks about Susan Powell "sharing" herself with him and his son.
Susan Powell disappeared from her home in West Valley City on Dec. 6, 2009. Josh Powell has been the only publicly named person of interest in the case, although West Valley City police also have said there are other persons of interest in the case who have not been publicly named.
Steve Powell has declined jailhouse interview requests from The Salt Lake Tribune. He is currently in the county's main jail and, with the exception of his attorney, is allowed to meet with visitors for only one hour a week.
Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff's Office, said at the time Powell was charged that Pierce County investigators had reviewed only 5 to 10 percent of the computers, photographs and videos seized from Powell's home on Aug. 25.
Troyer said on Oct. 10 that police are continuing to sift through evidence and that more charges against Powell are possible.
"We have not brought anything else forward to the prosecutor's office yet. We are continuing to work on it," Troyer said.
Meanwhile, a custody dispute continues in Washington's juvenile court system over Powell's two grandsons, Charlie, 6, and Braden, 4. The boys were taken and placed in the custody of their maternal grandparents following Powell's arrest. A judge allowed the boys to be placed with Susan Powell's parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, while Josh Powell continues to be investigated to determine if he had any involvement in voyeurism and illicit pornography with his father.
In a series of declarations filed in that case recently, two of Steve Powell's children wrote they were surprised their father was arrested and asked the judge determining the fate of Charlie and Braden to not punish Josh Powell for his father's actions.
"The arrest comes as a surprise to all individuals I have talked to, especially those closest to my father," wrote Michael Powell, 29, who is a student living in Minneapolis, in court documents. "Everyone is of course saddened by it. The charges are not consistent with the way I know my father to behave."
Michael Powell wrote that he and his siblings do not intend to post bail for their father.
Josh Powell also wrote in a court declaration that he was unaware of his father's illegal behavior and said he can provide a safe environment for his children.
Graves, who is estranged from her father and siblings, said last month that she was relieved her father was arrested so he could not victimize other people. She said Steve Powell has a pornography addiction and she and her husband made it a point to never leave their children alone with Steve Powell because of his history of questionable behavior.
She wrote in a declaration in support of having her nephews live with the Coxes that as a 12-year-old, she went on a work trip with Steve Powell and that he watched a television show involving naked women while she was in the room.
"Pornography has been an issue in this family for three decades. When my parents divorced, pornography was an issue during the proceeding," Graves wrote. "Joshua knew about the pornography then and his statements presently that he knows nothing of our father's pornographic inclinations and material is untruthful."
A hearing in the custody case is scheduled for next month.