Photographed girls testify at Steven Powell's voyeurism trialon May 9, 2012 @ 2:23 pm (Updated: 8:48 am - 5/10/12 )
Two girls who were secretly photographed naked when they lived next door to Steven Powell faced their former neighbor in court.
The girls' mother testified, first, about the day last year when she found out about the photos from a sheriff's detective. They were taken five years before, when the girls were nine and 8-years-old.
The woman identified the photos, saying: "They're my children."
Now teenagers, only one of the girls remembered Powell and she could not point him out in court.
One girl testified she left the door open when she used the bathroom because she was afraid to be alone. When asked what she could see out the window, she answered: "I guess you could see Mr. Powell's house."
The father-in-law of missing Utah woman Susan Powell is not expected to testify at his voyeurism trial in his own defense.
Attorney Mark Quigley told jurors during his opening statement Wednesday that Steven Powell doesn't have any burden of proof in the case, and it's up to prosecutors to provide enough evidence to convict him of charges that he secretly filmed two young neighbor girls in their home as they took baths, used the toilet and got dressed.
A detective described for jurors the sexually graphic photos of girls seized from the Puyallup home of Steven Powell.
Much of the trial day was spent identifying the photos, where they were taken and what they show.
The first witness to take the stand was Pierce County Gary Sanders said many of the photos seized had a specific emphasis, "Young females; usually dating ranged from 10 to late teens. These typically zoomed in on their genital area, their buttocks, their legs, breasts."
Sanders described for jurors the sexually graphic photos of girls seized from the Puyallup home of Steven Powell. "You can see she's using the bathroom, underwear down to mid-thighs," he told the jurors. "Now another scene, both victims in the bath. ... And another bath scene. ... There she is putting on pajamas ...."
The images also included Steven Powell himself, some naked.
Susan Powell disappeared from her home in West Valley City, Utah, in late 2009. In February, her husband, Josh Powell, attacked the couple's two sons at a house near Puyallup, Wash., with a hatchet and then ignited an explosive fire that claimed the lives of all three. Josh Powell, Steven's son, is believed to have been involved in Susan's disappearance.
"You know about Josh Powell and Susan Powell, and we all know that's not what this case is about," Quigley told the jury. "What I want you to focus on is the sufficiency of the state's evidence."
Steven Powell faces 14 counts of voyeurism. Judge Ronald Culpepper threw out one charge of possession of child pornography, saying the state's proffered evidence didn't fit the definition of that crime.
In his opening statement, Pierce County deputy prosecutor Bryce Nelson told the jury that Steven Powell recorded the images for his sexual gratification.
"This case is about a secret," Nelson said. The neighbor girls and her mother "didn't know Steven Powell had a secret. But we do."
Authorities searched Steven Powell's home last year for evidence in Susan Powell's disappearance. On Steven Powell's computers, they said, they found thousands of images of women and girls apparently recorded without their knowledge _ some as they walked dogs, strolled through parking lots, or entered their homes in Steven Powell's neighborhood.
There were many images of Susan Powell that appeared to have been filmed without her knowledge. In thousands of pages of journal entries discovered by detectives, Steven Powell detailed his obsession with Susan Powell, prosecutors have said.
Much of that evidence has been barred from the trial as unduly prejudicial against the defendant. Steven Powell is not charged with acts of voyeurism involving Susan Powell because authorities can't prove she didn't know about the filming.
By contrast, detectives were able to identify the neighbor girls and their mother, and they are expected to testify that they knew nothing about the filming.
Susan Powell's father, Chuck Cox, said it was obvious that Susan was unaware that she was being recorded by her father-in-law.
"Clearly their strongest evidence on anything is on Susan being a victim," Cox said. "I don't get it. Does she not count?"
Powell faces a standard sentence of around four years if convicted, but the state has alleged aggravating factors that could result in a longer term.
97.3 KIRO FM's Tim Haeck contributed to this Associated Press report.
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