The father-in-law of missing Utah mom Susan Cox Powell could be released from jail this week if a Washington judge throws out his charges of voyeurism and child pornography.
Steven Powell, 67, was arrested in 2011 after police found thousands of images of naked young girls and women, including his daughter-in-law, while searching the home he shared with his son, Josh Powell.
The police were searching the home for clues in the case of Susan Powell's 2009 disappearance, in which Josh Powell was the only person of interest. Investigators told the judge who signed the search warrant that they were seeking hand-written journals Susan Powell kept while alive.
During the search, police seized dozens of video tapes, VHS tapes and CDs belonging to Steven Powell, leading to Steven Powell's arrest and the removal of Josh Powell's two sons from his custody because they shared a home with Steven Powell.
Josh Powell later killed himself and the two boys in a fiery explosion after being asked to undergo a "psychosexual" evaluation in order to regain custody of the children.
Today, standing just a few feet away from Susan Cox's parents, Steven Powell and his attorney Mark Quigley asked Judge Ronald Culpepper to rule that there was no probable cause for authorities to search the Powell home and no legal reason to seize the disks which contained the alleged child porn images. If the judge agrees, Powell could be released from jail this week.
"Their investigation was stale. The police were getting frustrated, and they needed a reason to enter the Powell residence for another search," Quigley said today.
The prosecution, however, told Culpepper that the search of the Powell home was done lawfully and was important to the investigation.
Police obtained the search warrant after seeing Steven Powell on national television "bragging" about having seven journals that Susan Cox Powell kept while she was alive, prosecutor Grant Blinn said today. Steven Powell said that journals were integral to the investigation, but refused to turn them over to police, Blinn said.
Police were left with only one choice: to search the Powell home to obtain the journals.
"The only reason we're here today at all is because Mr. Powell went on national television bragging that he had the journals and would not hand them over, but were important to investigation and is now fighting the search warrant to get the journals," Blinn said.
Powell has pleaded not guilty to the charges. The investigation, by the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, determined that two of the young girls Powell is said to have covertly taped lived next door, and that his bedroom window faced the side of the victims' residence and the line of sight matches the camera angle seen in the videos.
"In a majority of the images the photographer focuses on the intimate parts of females," the document said.
The judge could rule as early as Tuesday on the legality of the search, and Powell could be released from jail shortly after.