TACOMA, Wash. - A Pierce County judge has sentenced Steven Powell to 2 and a half years in prison after a jury last month found the father-in-law of Susan Cox Powell guilty of 14 counts of voyeurism.
Though he was convicted of 14 counts, Powell was only sentenced on 12 counts after the Judge Ronald Culpepper vacated two. He must also serve up to 36 months in community custody.
Prior to the sentencing, the defense argued that some of the photos that were called separate incidents were taken at the same time.
Because Pierce County prosecutors asked for an exceptional sentence of 10 years, the defense argued extensively, saying Powell had no prior criminal history and similar voyeurism cases have not resulted in sentences anywhere near 10 years.
Powell’s attorneys said the low end of the sentencing range for murder is about the same amount of time prosecutors wanted Powell to serve for voyeurism.
Prosecutor Grant Blinn said Powell has never shown any remorse for his crimes and said the judge was unlikely to hear Powell apologize for victimizing the girls. He said the victims have to worry about the images showing up on the Internet for the rest of their lives.
The mother of the girls made an emotional and pointed statement to Powell in the courtroom.
“I have yet to hear you apologize. You sat there smugly as if it’s perfectly normal to have committed your crime,” she said. “I don’t know how you can stand behind your crimes. I thought maybe that you think humans are more like animals and should do as they wish with no regard to others, but I believe humans should act like humans and that we take responsibility for how we choose to behave.”
“I’m so angry,” she said tearfully. “I’m angry for the hurt you’ve caused my children. They did nothing to you but you’ve stolen their sense of security. You’ve caused them embarrassment and heartache. You didn’t have to see them crushed and cringing as they realized what their disgusting neighbor was doing. Shame on you. Shame on you for not admitting what you did was wrong; for trying to make others believe it never happened.”
“They have no pity. They have to carry this forever with them.”
“I didn’t know someone was watching my girls, but someone was watching you, and you better pray he forgives you, because I can’t.”
She then asked the judge to sentence Powell to the longest sentence that he could.
When the judge asked Powell if he had anything to say before he decided his sentence, Powell declined.
Powell's attorneys initially sought zero to 12 months, but later in the sentencing, they recommended 1 year in the county jail, citing his age as a factor and saying the girls were not physically harmed and were unaware of the photos until five years later.
The defense attorney also asked the judge not to sentence Powell for the crimes of his son, Josh.
Before he announced the sentenced Culpepper said there was a good reason to believe Josh Powell killed his wife, but Steven Powell should not be punished for that, though he should receive a longer than usual sentence.
“There is something seriously wrong with Mr. Powell’s view of women in the world,” said Culpepper.
The trial of Powell, 62, attracted national media attention because of his connections to Susan Cox Powell, the Utah mother and former Puyallup resident who disappeared in 2009 and is presumed dead.