Steven Powell's Trial Haunted by Specter of Missing Daughter-in-Law Susan Powell

PHOTO: Steven Powell is escorted into the court room on April 24, 2012.
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Defense attorneys opened the voyeurism trial of Steven Powell today by stating it was "not about Susan Powell," and the evidence is not expected to shed light about what really happened to his daughter-in-law who disappeared in 2009.

Jurors in the Washington court today were shown dozens of images that Powell, 62, allegedly took from his bedroom window of his young female neighbors, age 10 and 8, as they undressed, bathed, and used the bathroom.

They will also be shown images Powell took of himself during a sexual act, and journal entries where Powell details feeling sexually "out of control," and focusing his "lust" on his daughter-in-law, Susan.

Defense attorneys for Powell were the first to mention Susan, who disappeared in 2009. Steven's son, Josh, was the only named person of interest in her disappareance, but he was never arrested or charged.

The investigation came to a violent halt when Josh Powell blew himself up along with his two little sons last February.

Investigators searching for clues into Susan Powell's disappearance searched the home Josh and Steven Powell shared in 2011 when they came across the computer disks and hard drives containing the images of the young neighborhood girls. Steven Powell was then charged.

"You have heard about Josh Powell, you have heard about Susan Powell. This case is not about them," said Mark Quigley, Powell's defense attorney. "We will be challenging every piece of evidence the state puts on."

Susan Cox Powell's parents and sister are attending the trial, and have said they hope it sheds light on what happened to Susan.

Earlier this week, Judge Ronald Culpepper dismissed the child pornography charge against Powell after he determined that Powell's filming did not influence the behavior of the children in any way.

Today, a jury comprised of seven men and seven women began listening to testimony about the images and Powell's sexual obsessions, which the prosecution argues shows the sexual nature of the voyeuristic images.

Culpepper decided Tuesday to admit only one of Powell's journal entries that focused on his obsession with Susan Powell, excluding the others after he determined that they would prejudice the jury.

Culpepper determined that the journals "show a very strange fixation on Susan Powell, but I don't think it proves much about voyeurism involving two neighbor kids."

The journal entry that will be read contains Powell's admission that he enjoys "taking video shots of pretty girls in shorts and skirts of every age," but enjoys images of Susan the most.

"I sometimes use these images for self -stimulation. But the images that raises me to orgasmic heights are the shots of Susan," Steven Powell wrote.

This morning, Culpepper will rule on one final journal entry that could be admitted into the trial.

"I have been going nuts and nearly out of control sexually my entire life. The modicum of control I have is that nearly 90 percent of my lust is directed at Susan," Powell wrote in his journal on Sept. 27, 2010, nine months after Susan disappeared.

Journal entries that will be excluded contain Powell's declarations from 2003 and 2004 that he and Susan are a perfect match because he is a voyeur and she is an exhibitionist and that he had been stalking Susan and making secret videos of her.

Searches for Susan over the past two years have yielded no clues into her disappearance, which occurred in December 2009. Josh Powell, her husband, told police he took his children and went camping around midnight on the night of her disappearance.

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