It took eight years for the wrongful death lawsuit suit to finally come to court. Eight years after the deaths of 5-year-old Charlie and 7-year-old Braden Powell at the hands of their father, Josh.
It was Feb. 2012 and the boys were in the custody of their maternal grandparents, Chuck and Judy Cox. Josh Powell was fighting to get custody back. On Sunday Feb. 5, Powell bludgeoned the boys with a hatchet, doused them and his Graham home in gasoline and lit a match, killing them and himself. A Child Protective Services case worker had taken the two there for what was supposed to be a scheduled supervised visit.
“They delivered the boys without precaution to their father’s house, a place where he had complete control,” said Cox family attorney Ted Buck during opening statements Tuesday.
The murders came four days after Powell suffered a setback in his ongoing legal effort to regain custody of his sons. They were taken away after police in Utah, investigating the 2009 disappearance of Powell’s wife Susan, revealed evidence of bizarre and sexually explicit files on his computer. Susan Cox Powell’s body was never found and Josh was named a person of interest. But Powell still retained rights to supervised visits with his sons and plotted their murders for an upcoming get together after he appeared in court.
“As a result of that systemic system-wide failure to follow their own guidelines these boys, wards of the state, suffered an incredible, indescribable loss,” Buck told jurors.
“There’s no question that the murders of these two boys was a horrific tragedy,” said Lori Kooiman, representing the Department of Social and Health Services and Child Protective Services. Kooiman countered that before the murders there was not enough evidence to deny Powell visitations under strict guidelines. And that CPS officials had to follow the law.
“The department doesn’t get to go take kids out of people’s homes just because they want to, they don’t have the authority to do that,” Kooiman said.
Buck told jurors he should award the Cox family $87 million, which he said equals $5 million for each minute the two boys suffered at the hands of their father.
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