Prior statement analysis showed deception in Steven Powell
regarding child pornography as well as knowledge of his
son's crime where Josh Powell killed his wife, Susan Cox.
TACOMA, Wash. — Steven Powell was re-charged and re-arrested Monday and is headed back to court.
A bench warrant was issued for Powell's arrest Monday by the Pierce County Superior Court. Powell, who was released from prison in March after serving 30 months for his conviction on multiple counts of voyeurism, was arrested at his home in Tacoma, prosecutors say.
The warrant comes on the heels of a decision by a Washington appeals court that a judge erred two years ago in dismissing a charge of child pornography that had been filed against him.
In 2012, the 64-year-old was convicted of 14 counts of voyeurism for surreptitiously taking pictures and videos of two young neighbor girls using a telephoto lens to look into their bathroom. He was sentenced on 12 of those counts.
Just as his trial was starting in May of 2012, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper dismissed a charge of possession of child pornography. He noted that prosecutors could not show that Powell directed the girls to pose provocatively or in an explicit nature and said the evidence did not fit the charge. The girls, ages 10 and 8, were innocently getting into a bathtub and were photographed without their knowledge, Culpepper noted.
But prosecutors told reporters after Powell was convicted of voyeurism that they intended to appeal the dismissed child pornography charge. They argued that the judge used an outdated statute for the definition of sexually explicit conduct.
The appeals court agreed.
In June of this year, the Washington Court of Appeals ruled that "because of the legislature's 2010 amendment to the definition of sexually explicit conduct expanded the definition to include the conduct depicted within the images in Powell's possession, we reverse the trial court's … dismissal of the charge of second degree possession (of child pornography)."
The appeals court ruled that Powell's purpose for having the pictures was sexual stimulation and that the photos were taken without the girls' knowledge. Both of those elements made it fit into the statute, the court ruled.
Powell attempted to appeal the decision to the Washington State Supreme Court. But the state's high court declined to hear the case, leaving the appellate court's ruling to stand. Prosecutors then re-filed the charge Monday in Pierce County Superior Court and an arrest warrant was issued.
"We were always confident the child pornography charges were proper, and we are pleased the higher court agreed,” prosecutor Mark Lindquist said in a prepared statement Monday. “Mr. Powell should be held fully accountable for grossly violating the privacy of his young neighbors.”
Anne Bremner, the Seatte-based attorney who represents the two young girls who Powell photographed, was also pleased with Monday's charge.
"My clients, the young girl victims of Steven Powell, always believed this more serious charge to be appropriate. They have been seeking justice all along," she said.
Powell is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday, at which time he will enter a plea. If convicted on this new charge, Powell could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Steven Powell is the father of Josh Powell, the husband of Susan Cox Powell. Susan Powell has been missing since 2009 and is presumed dead. Police believe Josh Powell is responsible for her death but he was never arrested. He killed himself and his two young sons in February 2012 in a massive fire during a custody visit at a home he rented in Graham, Washington.
It was during a search of Steven Powell's house as part of the Susan Powell investigation that police found thousands of sexually explicit and voyeuristic pictures taken by Steven Powell. Photos and journals seized from Powell's bedroom also explicitly detailed Powell's obsession with his daughter-in-law.