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Josh Powell's father gets 30 months for voyeurism

The father-in-law of missing Utah woman Susan Powell is sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for recording images of two young neighbor girls in their bathroom.
Image: Steve Powell
Steve Powell looks toward his attorneys during his voyeurism trial in May in Tacoma, Wash.Ted S. Warren / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

The father-in-law of missing Utah woman Susan Powell was sentenced Friday in Washington state court to 2 1/2 years in prison for recording images of two young neighbor girls in their bathroom.

Pierce County prosecutors had asked for Steven Powell to serve 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.

The 62-year-old was convicted last month.

Powell is the father-in-law of Susan Powell, who disappeared from her home in West Valley City, Utah, in late 2009.

His son and her husband, Josh Powell, killed himself and his two young sons in a February fire at a home in Graham. Josh Powell was the prime suspect in Susan's disappearance.

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.

The mother of Powell's victims addressed him at sentencing, trembling and tearful as she stood with her back to him. She 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 in court.

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 "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.

Image: Photographs of Charles and Braden Powell are displayed during their funeral services in Tacoma
REFILE - CLARIFYING LOCATION OF FUNERAL Photographs of Charles (R) and Braden Powell are displayed during their funeral services in Tacoma, Washington February 11, 2012. Over a thousand mourners flocked to a memorial service in Washington state on Saturday for two young boys killed when their father burned their house to the ground with himself and his sons inside. Sunday's murder-suicide, which claimed the lives of Josh Powell and his sons, Charles, 7, and Braden, 5, capped a grim family saga that began over two years ago with the disappearance of the boys' mother under suspicious circumstances in Utah. REUTERS/Lui Kit Wong/Pool (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)Lui Kit Wong / X80003

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."

Before sentencing Powell, Culpepper threw out two of the 14 voyeurism convictions, saying they appeared to be redundant — that is, Powell had faced multiple counts based on the same recording sessions.

Powell's lawyers sought to have all but two of the counts dismissed — one count for each victim — on the grounds that the state couldn't prove the images weren't all recorded in one long recording session on a single day.

The judge declined, saying he didn't have enough evidence to overrule the jury's decision to convict him on those counts.

Among the images recovered from Steve Powell's home were many of Susan Powell that appeared to have been filmed without her knowledge, investigators said. There were also journals in which Steve Powell detailed his obsession with Susan Powell, they said.

Much of that evidence had been barred from the trial as unduly prejudicial against the defendant. Steve Powell was not charged with acts of voyeurism involving Susan Powell because authorities couldn't prove she didn't know about the filming.