Steven Powell's journal reveals obsession with Susan Powell

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TACOMA, Wash. - Steven Powell's journal is "sexually graphic" and reveals an obsession with his daughter-in-law Susan Powell, prosecutors said Monday in a pre-trial hearing relating to the voyeurism case against him.

 

"I am a voyeur and Susan is an exhibitionist," Powell wrote, according to prosecutors, who said the "vast majority" of the journal is about Susan Powell.

 

The court is trying to determine whether the jury should see the journal that the prosecution said chronicles Powell's desire for stalking her and taking illicit photos of women.

 

KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reporter Kevin McCarty tweeted live from inside the courtroom.  Follow his coverage @KevinKIRO.

 

"On June 26, 2004, defendant wrote that he's pretty sure that Susan knew he used to film her under the bathroom door," said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Bryce Nelson.

 

Attorneys said Powell manipulated videos he secretly took of her under bathroom doors to create what appeared to be a sexually explicit situation.

 

Defense attorneys said the journal entries could prejudice a jury because of Susan Cox Powell's disappearance and widespread coverage in national media.

 

Also Monday, the judge dismissed the one child pornography charge in the case, leaving 14 charges of voyeurism.  [Full story]

 

Though the voyeurism charges have nothing to do with the horrific murder-suicide of his son, Josh, and Josh's two young boys, or the bizarre disappearance of Josh's wife, Susan, from their Utah home in 2009, Susan Powell's relatives hope the trial nevertheless sheds light on those tragedies.

 

Chuck and Judy Cox watched Powell as he was led into the courtroom Monday, wearing a tie and gray sport coat. Opening statements are not expected until Wednesday.

 

Susan Powell's father, Chuck Cox, said he had no idea Powell's obsession with his daughter went so far.

 

"I didn't even know he kept a journal. I had no idea he'd be writing that down," Cox said.

 

McCarty said potential jurors received a questionnaire to fill out. Jury selection is expected to resume Tuesday or Wednesday. The questionnaire asks jurors about their knowledge of the case and media coverage of it.

 

The judge told potential jurors not to "watch any news about this case" on television, the Internet or in newspapers.

 

Steve Powell has been a central figure in his family's very public disintegration over the past two years.

 

Last summer, as authorities from Washington and Utah stepped up their efforts to solve Susan's disappearance, he professed his love for her on national television and claimed they had a sexually charged relationship, something her parents angrily denied.

 

Monday's trial is all about evidence found last summer in Steven Powell's Graham home where police said they discovered thousands of voyeuristic images on Steve's computers — including shots of young neighbor girls bathing and using the toilet. There were also images of Susan that appeared to be secretly recorded, and pictures of naked women with Susan's head superimposed, authorities said.

 

The arrest prompted the state to take custody of Josh Powell's sons, Charlie and Braden, who were living with their dad at Steve Powell's home. The boys were turned over to Susan's parents, prompting a custody fight that ended Feb. 5, when Josh Powell locked a social worker out of his home during what was supposed to be a supervised Sunday visit with his sons. He attacked Charlie and Braden, 7 and 5, with a hatchet, then lit the house in a gas-fueled fire that consumed all three of them as the social worker frantically called 911.

 

Steve Powell, who had a close relationship with his son, has remained jailed on $200,000 bail since his arrest last September, and he has made no public statements about the murder-suicide. He is charged with more than a dozen counts of voyeurism and one count of possession of child pornography. If convicted, he would face a guideline sentence of about four years; however, the state has alleged aggravating circumstances that could result in a longer term.

 

Police in West Valley City, Utah, have characterized Steve Powell as uncooperative in their investigation of Susan's disappearance. He has invoked his right to remain silent, and no evidence has emerged to suggest he traveled to Utah the weekend his daughter-in-law disappeared.

 

Before he died, Josh Powell maintained he knew nothing about what happened to her, because he had taken the boys on a midnight camping trip in the freezing Utah desert when she vanished. Police say her blood was found in the house, on the floor near a sofa that had just been cleaned, and that within days of her disappearance, Josh Powell cleaned out her retirement accounts. He gave some statements that were obviously false when first questioned by police, investigators said.

 

Seventy potential jurors were brought in to fill out questionnaires in the trial before Judge Ronald Culpepper.

 

One of Powell's lawyers, Mark Quigley, said he expected some of the backstory of the case to be discussed at the trial, but he added: "We know what it's about and what it's not about. It's not about his son and his son's wife." He declined to say whether he expects Powell to testify.

 

The state's potential witnesses include investigators from Washington and Utah, as well as the mother of the neighbor girls Powell is accused of recording.

 

"Our office is focused on holding Steven Powell accountable for the crimes he committed in Pierce County that we can prove," said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. "We anticipate some of the peripheral issues will arise, but our trial will stay on course."