Wash. jury takes its time in Powell voyeurism case

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By MIKE BAKER, Associated Press

TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A jury handling the voyeurism case against a missing Utah woman's father-in-law struggled to reach a verdict Tuesday, breaking for the day without a decision and asking a question that one attorney called "troubling."

Jurors considered Steve Powell's fate for several hours before deciding to return Wednesday morning.

Powell was charged with 14 counts of voyeurism after authorities investigating Susan Powell's 2009 disappearance found a disc in his bedroom that they say contained images of young girls who lived next door.

Shortly after beginning deliberations, jurors asked if the disc was found in boxes containing only items belonging to Steve Powell. That question bothered attorney Anne Bremner, who represents both Susan Powell's family and the family of the neighbor girls.

"That was a little troubling," Bremner said. She was surprised the jury was taking so long on what she believed was a simple case.

Defense attorneys had noted authorities did not say whether Steve Powell's fingerprints were on the disc and said they never explored whether his bedroom door was locked.

The judge told jurors he could not answer their question and instructed them to keep deliberating.

Earlier Tuesday, Pierce County prosecutor Grant Blinn showed photos of the young girls to the jury while saying Steve Powell captured the images from his bedroom window.

"He was sitting there, lurking in the shadows, leering at the girls," Blinn said.

The files show the young girls in a bathroom as they bathed and used the toilet, authorities said. The girls, identified in court only by their initials, were about 8 and 10 years old when the images were captured. The girls testified they had no idea someone had taken photos of them in the bathroom.

Defense attorney Travis Currie argued there were too many uncertainties in the evidence to convict. He questioned whether Steve Powell was the one who actually captured the images, noting others lived in the home. He also wondered if the images were used for sexual gratification.

"There are people who are nosy, who like to spy on their neighbors," Currie said.

When talking about the burden of reasonable doubt, Currie reached as high as he could into the air, towering over the jury to emphasize how high of a bar that standard is.

Most jurors showed little emotion during the closing arguments, though a few looked away while the prosecutor showed the images of the young girls.

Like much of the trial, the closing arguments made no mention of Susan Powell, even though Steve Powell was arrested in the voyeurism case last year after authorities investigating her disappearance searched his home. Authorities have said Steve Powell's image collection included many photos of Susan Powell.

Her husband, Josh, killed himself and the couple's two young children in a house fire earlier this year.

Meanwhile, as the jury deliberated Tuesday, Steve Powell's daughter launched a website showing him and Susan Powell in light moments captured on video.

Alina Powell said the site was not designed to influence the case but to show "sweet family moments." She said on the website it also rebuts allegations that Susan Powell hated her father-in-law.

Steve 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.

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AP Writer Mike Baker can be reached on Facebook: http://on.fb.me/HiPpEV

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