Judge: Jurors won't hear 'disturbing' descriptions of Steven Powell's obsession with Susan

Cox family still hasn't had time to mourn grandsons' deaths

Published: Tuesday, May 8 2012 12:00 p.m. MDT

Potential jurors were grilled about how much they had already heard about the case. Some admitted it was nearly impossible to avoid hearing a headline or something about the case on Monday. They all admitted they quickly turned the channel or looked away when they saw that the coverage was about Powell.

One prospective juror said he had never heard about Steven Powell, or Josh and Susan Powell, because he traveled a lot and generally did not read newspapers or watch the news.

Rather than allow prosecutors to present dozens and dozens of photos to jurors, the judge said they had to limit their selections to 20. When court resumes Wednesday, Powell's attorneys will challenge allowing even those 20 photographs to be admitted as evidence.

In their memorandum, they argued that the majority of the photos are not relevant to the case. They also referred to adult commercial pornography, arguing, "Constitutionally protected behavior cannot be the basis of criminal punishment."

Defense attorneys also noted the photos include some of Steven Powell "in various states of undress and involved in sexual acts or pantomiming sexual acts."

New court documents filed by prosecutors Tuesday describe in sometimes graphic and disturbing detail what police found on the digital recordings in Steven Powell's home. Several of the videos also focus on Susan Powell or Steven Powell talking about Susan.

In one video, Steven Powell talks about being in love with his daughter-in-law and says he "would give anything to be with her." In another video, he takes a pair of Susan's underwear from the laundry room and kisses it. In another, he talks about "having the most erotic experience of my life" giving her a foot rub. The documents describe other much more explicit videos.

Although the trial is specific to photographs of two young neighbor girls, Denise Cox insists that her sister is a victim, too, and evidence about her should be permitted.

"Everyone deserves a fair trial … but no one's been fair to my family in everything that's gone on. You know, they followed the rules and look where the rules got them — two nephews that are gone, my sister's gone. The rules have failed for the most part," she said. "It has everything to do with the trial. Susan is a victim. He talks about her and she's in one of the pictures. She's part of the case. She's part of both cases and they're linked."

Her parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, did not attend Tuesday's proceedings but were expected to be in court on Wednesday.

For the Cox family, finding time to heal since the murders of their two grandsons, Charlie and Braden, hasn't been easy. But getting rid of his grandsons' beds was a simple decision for Chuck Cox.

It was far too painful to walk into the boys' room — an addition that had just been completed three days before the brothers were killed — and see the two beds sitting empty. One bed had been covered with the pillow sheets from the Disney movie "Cars." The other had a Spiderman-themed bedspread.

It's been three months since Josh Powell killed his two young sons, Charlie and Braden, and took his own life in an inferno at his rental Graham, Wash., house. Chuck and Judy Cox have continued to remodel their home and are about 95 percent finished. Monday night, they showed the Deseret News the room that used to belong to Charlie and Braden, which has now been turned into a master bedroom and lounge area.

Most of the boys' toys have been donated to local charities. A couple of plastic bins hold the remaining arts and crafts supplies that their grandsons once used. The couple says maybe someday they'll want to go back and look at the items that remind them of the boys. But right now, it's too painful.

Even now, the Coxes occasionally find a toy that was left under a couch or in a corner by Charlie and Braden, and the tears will flow. A recently-found nightlight that the boys used each night to go to sleep left Chuck Cox unable to move for 15 minutes, he said.

Although many weeks have passed, he said the family has not had time to properly mourn.

"We haven't had the luxury of grieving," Chuck Cox said. "At some point we can heal with our grief."

While the family has mostly gotten over the shock of what happened to the young boys, other ongoing issues, including Steven Powell's trial, have prevented them from fully having time to recover.

Steven Powell's daughter, Alina Powell, was again present for Tuesday's proceedings. She sat in the  back of the courtroom taking notes. Powell looked at his daughter and smiled to her a couple of times shortly after he was brought into the courtroom and as he was being led away.

But seeing Powell in the courtroom has been difficult for Denise Cox. "It just makes me want to go up to him and say, 'Where is (Susan)? You know, then I'll leave you alone,'" she said.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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