TACOMA – The father-in-law of missing Utah woman Susan Powell was sentenced Friday to 2 1/2 years in prison for recording images of two neighbor girls in their bathroom.
The mother of Steven Powell’s victims was trembling and tearful in court as she stood with her back to him and said she’s still waiting for an apology.
“You’ve sat there smugly and acted as though it’s perfectly normal to have committed your crimes,” she said. “I’m so angry. I’m angry for the hurt you caused my children. You caused them embarrassment and heartache.”
Powell, wearing a gray jail uniform, declined to speak.
Pierce County prosecutors had asked for Powell, 62, to be sentenced to 10 years. His attorneys sought zero to 12 months, saying it’s not clear exactly when Powell took the pictures, and it could have been before the state made voyeurism a ranked felony in 2006.
Powell is the father-in-law of Susan Powell, who disappeared from her home in West Valley City, Utah, in 2009. His son Josh Powell was the prime suspect in Susan’s disappearance. Josh Powell killed himself and his two young sons in a February fire at a home in Graham, Wash.
Steve Powell was arrested last September after investigators searching his home for evidence in Susan Powell’s disappearance came across computer disks with what they described as thousands of images of women and girls who seemed unaware they were being photographed. Those filmed, prosecutors say, included the neighbor girls, who were identified in court only by their initials and who were about 8 and 10 when the images were recorded.
Powell was convicted in May of 14 voyeurism counts.
Deputy prosecutor Grant Blinn asked for an exceptional 10-year sentence, noting the number of offenses and that Powell not only secretly watched the girls, but he “memorialized” his offense by recording them so he could watch them over and over.
Powell’s lawyers, Mark Quigley and Travis Currie, argued that 10 years was far beyond what any other convicted voyeur has received in Pierce County. One other defendant charged with similar offenses received a sentence of 261 days, but he took responsibility for his crimes.
Quigley urged Judge Ronald Culpepper to pay no mind to the intense media attention on the case.
“We can’t ignore the fact that there’s intense public interest in the outcome of this case,” he said. “I would ask you not to punish Mr. Powell for the conduct of his son.”
With credit for time served, Steven Powell could be released in less than two years. Culpepper also sentenced him to three years of supervised release following the prison sentence.
Before sentencing Powell, Culpepper threw out two of the 14 convictions, saying they appeared to be redundant – that is, Powell had faced multiple counts based on the same recording sessions.