Steven Craig Powell’s attorneys will ask a Pierce County judge to sentence their client to no more than a year in jail on his 14 voyeurism convictions, which is 90 percent less time than that being sought by prosecutors.
Defense attorneys Mark Quigley and Travis Currie argue in pleadings filed today their client should be sentenced under guidelines in place before June 7, 2006, which classified voyeurism as an unranked felony with a standard range of 0-12 months in jail. Each conviction was to run concurrently (at the same time) under those guidelines.
In charging documents, prosecutors alleged Powell, 62, photographed two neighbor girls then – then ages 8 and 10 – while they bathed and used the toilet during a timeframe running from June 1, 2006 to Aug. 31, 2007.
The state Legislature toughened sentencing guidelines for voyeurism in 2006, but the law did not take effect until June 7 of that year.
Because prosecutors could not pinpoint when exactly Powell photographed the girls, he should be sentenced under the guidelines in place June 1-6, 2006, Quigley and Currie argue, adding that appellate courts consistently have upheld that view.
“When evidence does not clearly prove the commission date, and the charging period encompasses a change in the penalty for commission, the defendant is entitled to be sentenced under the more lenient penalty,” they wrote in their pleading.
What’s more, the defense attorney argued, the 10 years being sought by prosecutors is grossly out of proportion for the crimes committed.
Powell did not touch the victims or break into their homes, they argued; he simply took photographs of them without their knowledge. The victims did not find out they’d been photographed until five years later.
People convicted of second-degree murder qualify for a low-end sentenced of 10 years, three months, Quigley and Currie pointed out.
“Without diminishing the gravity of the convictions herein, and with all proper respect for the two minor victims and their family, ten years in prison for the conduct proven is unreasonable, untenable and would be an abuse of discretion,” Quigley and Currie wrote.
Prosecutors contend Powell deserves 10 years in prison for repeatedly violating the girls’ privacy. They also say sentencing him to concurrent sentences would allow him to escape punishment on many of his convictions. They concede two of the 14 counts should merge for sentencing purposes.
“We believe he should be sentenced on 12 counts,” deputy prosecutor Grant Blinn said.
Quigley and Currie also intend to argue at Powell’s Friday sentencing hearing before Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper that all but two of the convictions against their client should be dismissed on double jeopardy grounds.
“The crimes here, with respect to each individual victim, were committed in the same place,” they said. “There is no evidence to prove that all of these acts took place at different times. Therefore, the court should find that all of the acts could have been taken on the same day during the same period of recording and that they amount to the same criminal conduct …”
Grant said he and colleague Bryce Nelson would fight that motion.
“Obviously, we disagree,” he said.
Powell’s trial last month attracted national media attention because of his connections to Susan Cox Powell, the Utah mother and former Puyallup resident who went missing in 2009 and is presumed dead.
Steven Powell is the woman’s father-in-law. His son, Josh Powell, was being investigated in Susan Cox Powell’s disappearance until earlier this year when he killed their two young sons and himself in Pierce County.