TACOMA — A jury on Wednesday convicted Steve Powell on all 14 charges in a voyeurism case that stemmed from an investigation into the 2009 disappearance of his daughter-in-law Susan Powell, a Utah mother of two who has never been found.
Steve Powell simply looked off into a corner of the courtroom as the verdict was read, showing no emotion. Attorney Anne Bremner, who represents Susan Powell’s family, smiled.
Susan Powell’s parents believe Steve Powell knows something about her disappearance, and father Chuck Cox said they were relieved by the verdict. He said he hoped the decision would get the family closer to knowing what happened to their daughter.
“It kicks another crutch away from him,” Cox said. “The main question is: Where is Susan? Now, perhaps he’ll answer it.”
Authorities long focused on Susan Powell’s husband, Josh, during the missing-persons investigation, but he killed himself and the couple’s two young children earlier this year. Investigators have said Steve Powell has been uncooperative during the probe.
Steve Powell’s daughter Alina Powell took diligent notes throughout the trial while attending in support of her father. On Wednesday, she remained in the courtroom long after the verdict was read, at times crying.
“My family was automatically convicted 2½ years ago,” Alina Powell said, referring to when Susan Powell disappeared.
Alina Powell has mourned the loss of family members — both to death and separation — in what she described as an “unimaginably complicated and difficult situation that even I have a hard time understanding.”
Authorities brought the voyeurism charges last year after searching Steve Powell’s home during their investigation into Susan Powell’s disappearance.
They allege they found thousands of images of females being photographed and videotaped without their knowledge, including Susan Powell. But the pictures of Susan Powell were not part of the case. Instead, prosecutors focused on images of two young girls who lived next door to Steve Powell.
During closing arguments Tuesday, Pierce County prosecutor Grant Blinn methodically showed photos of the young girls to the jury while saying Steve Powell captured the images from his bedroom window. He accused Steve Powell of “lurking in the shadows” to leer at the children.
Authorities say the files show the young girls in a bathroom as they bathed and used the toilet. The girls, identified in court only by their initials, were about 8 and 10 when the images were captured. They testified they had no idea they were being photographed in the bathroom.
Dodd Tremaine, a Tacoma truck driver who served as the presiding juror, said after the verdict that the images in the case were disturbing. He said jurors were affected by closing arguments in which defense attorneys emphasized the high bar of “reasonable doubt,” but that they believed the prosecution had built a strong case.
Jurors were aware of the Susan Powell investigation, but he said it played no role in their decision.
“We eliminated that right from the beginning,” Tremaine said. “We never even discussed it.”
Defense attorneys had argued there were too many uncertainties in the evidence to convict. Lawyer Travis Currie repeatedly emphasized the standard of “reasonable doubt” during closing arguments, raising the prospect that others could have captured the images.
Jurors seemed to be grappling with that issue during deliberations.
They asked a question early in the process Tuesday about whether the disc that contained the images was found in boxes containing items only belonging to Steve Powell. They then asked to view the disc to get clarity on two of the counts.
And on Wednesday, the jury asked a question about exhibits used by the prosecution, indicating jurors felt that images in one of the exhibits didn’t meet the reasonable doubt requirement.
Prosecutors said they don’t plan to seek information on the Susan Powell case as part of a trade to reduce Steve Powell’s sentence.
He faces a standard sentence of around four years, but the state has alleged aggravating factors that could result in a longer term.
Sentencing is scheduled for June 15.