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Josh Powell should never have been granted visitation, Coxes argue in hearing

Published: Thursday, Feb. 23 2012 4:35 p.m. MST

"You do not give visitation to somebody suspected of murder, and there should be no visitation in a private residence," Cox said. "To us, that seems just ridiculous that you would want to reunite children with this type of parent. … It just flies in the face of reason."

During Powell's last court hearing, when the psychosexual exam was ordered, the judge told Powell the court's ultimate goal was for him to regain full custody of his sons. Cox said giving visitation rights to Powell after ordering such an exam was a "glaring mistake, a glaring error in the system."

He told the group Thursday that Charlie and Braden did not want to go to their father's house on the day they were killed. And for the first time, Cox said he believed Braden was "afraid" of his father.

"I wanted to call and say they were sick," Judy Cox said. "I had a very strong feeling something bad was going to happen that day, but I had to follow the law because that's the right thing to do."

Bremner, who is calling for legislation that would prohibit visitation rights to parents who are the subject of a murder investigation where there is probable cause, added that there was plenty of probable cause in this case. She said Powell was more than just a "person of interest" in his wife's disappearance.

"Let's not call it something it's not," she said. "'Person of interest' was not an appropriate term to use."

Downing added that in every case, the balance of parental rights versus specific conduct and action needs to be taken into consideration.

"Clearly where I think the mistake has been made, the department knew. These kids were beginning to disclose, and there were repeated references," he said, referring to small details the boys had recently been saying about their mother's disappearance. "The children were beginning to remember, they were beginning to disclose."

DSHS knew about the porn on Josh Powell's computer two months before the images arrived in Washington for officials to review and knew that he was the subject of a murder investigation.

"I'm continually amazed with all new documents, about who knew what and when they knew it," Downing said, apparently referring to the nearly 1,000 pages of documents DSHS released last week. "Clearly there was enough information to recommend a change in visitation."

Bremner also made reference to the search warrants served by West Valley police and other Powell-related court documents in Utah that a judge ordered to be sealed and have remained secret.

"We know in Washington state we don't allow records to be sealed," she said, while noting that records can't be sealed just because a case is high profile.

Other comments were collected from those in attendance who had their own stories about the inconsistencies of the child welfare system in Washington.

"This situation is so appalling to me. It's just so inconsistent it's inconceivable they would have a fast-track unification in a case like this," commented state Sen. Don Benton. "It's just mind-boggling the inconsistency."

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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