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Steve Powell fights to have search warrant thrown out

Post by Adam Lynn / The News Tribune on April 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm with 9 Comments »
April 23, 2012 1:15 pm

A Pierce County judge Tuesday will rule on whether law enforcement officials had probable cause to search the South Hill-area home of Susan Cox Powell’s father-in-law last year. Steven Powell, 62, wants evidence seized during that search, including photos he allegedly took of young girls and his daughter-in-law, thrown out of court.

The subjects were naked or semi-nude in many of the photos and likely did not know they were being photographed, court records show.

If Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper agrees with Powell, prosecutors likely would be forced to dismiss 14 counts of voyeurism and one count of possession of child pornography with which he’s charged.

Powell has pleaded not guilty and is to go to trial in May.

His defense attorney, Mark Quigley argued Monday that sheriff’s detectives were on an illegal “fishing expedition” when they searched his client’s house in August.

Their investigation into Susan Cox Powell’s 2009 disappearance in Utah had grown “stale” and they were increasingly frustrated when they sought a warrant to seize the woman’s journals from his client’s home, Quigley told Culpepper. Some of the journals apparently were authored before Susan Cox Powell married Steven Powell’s son, Josh, the attorney argued.

“There is no nexus … that connects these journals to any potential criminal activity,” Quigley said.

Even if the hardbound journals were proper evidence, authorities had no right to expand their search to include “any and all digital copies” stored on computers or electronic storage devices in Powell’s house, Quigley argued. Police seized a number of computers, flash drives and other devices during their search.

That was a direct violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures, Quigley argued.

It was while reviewing the digital copies that detectives found 2,000 images on which the charges against Steven Powell are based.

Deputy prosecutor Grant Blinn countered that Steve Powell went on a national television program shortly before the search to say the journals were important to the investigation into his daughter-in-law’s disappearance.

Powell and his son, Josh, hinted at the time that the journals might contain information about other men Susan Cox Powell had been involved with over the years, thereby providing other theories as to her disappearance.

Authorities considered Josh Powell a person of interest in his wife’s disappearance right up until February, when he killed his two sons and himself in his South Hill-area home.

He never was charged.

Blinn said the journals were of use to law enforcement whether they implicated Josh Powell or someone else and that probable cause had been established to seize them.

Authorities also need to seize any digital copies of the journals to try to ensure they originals hadn’t been altered in some way, the deputy prosecutor said.

“Law enforcement was meticulous and methodical,” Blinn said.

At one point, Culpepper asked Blinn if he thought police could have gotten a warrant had Steve Powell not gone on television to talk about his daughter-in-law’s journals.

“It would have been a closer call,” Blinn said.

Culpepper is to announce his ruling at 9 a.m.




Leave a comment Comments → 9
  1. Live most every criminal, Im sure he would like the evidence thrown out, don’t think it will happen. He can’t complain when he’s the one who told everyone about himself and Susan being together many times and how she loved him too. That just let everyone know he was a crazy old man and needed to checked out closer.

  2. Powell is just trying to get out of jail and disappear – so he won’t be charged as an accomplice to a homicide……

  3. whitman411 says:

    I would be surprised if the warrant stands.

  4. serendipity says:

    Stay strong team prosecution. I am certain not even the defense attorney wants this to happen. What a major creepy person he is. Ugh.

  5. Rowdy_Rob says:

    They should release him…

    into general population

  6. The evidence should be suppressed. The warrant was insufficient to go beyond the journals. As a side point, did the cops ever ask him for the journals? If they didn’t, that infers that they were afraid he’d give them up and then they couldn’t go fishing around the house.

    It doesn’t matter what the judge rules, although it would be refreshing if he does the right thing and grants the motion. If he doesn’t, the court of appeals will toss it after the county wastes a ton of time and money with a useless trial.

  7. If they released him would we be lucky enough that he would take his daughter and himself out like his son did his kids so he would not be sent away to jail. No he would not save the tax payers any money.
    So just set there and pay your dues you pervert.
    You are guilty and I he you get the max.

  8. I hope you do not get out and that you are punished to the max for the pervert that you are.
    But if you did maybe you would do everyone

  9. Thedavenports says:

    Why isn’t this guy or his son referred to as thugs…..these guys are terrible child porn crazed, daughter in law, wife and kid murdering child mos…suicide was the best thing out the whole story! To bad dad was in jail…..darn it!

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