TACOMA, Wash. — After deliberating for 4½ hours Tuesday, the 12-member jury in the Steven Powell case went home for the evening without reaching a verdict.
The jurors will return to the Pierce County courtroom on Wednesday to continue deliberations.
Many courtroom observers, including veteran attorney Anne Bremner, who represents the two young girls Powell is accused of taking pictures of, were surprised that a verdict wasn't reached.
"I think they should have been back by now, but that's just me in terms of my trial experience. I think it was a simple case and one that was well-presented," she said.
But Bremner said she still believes Powell will be convicted.
"I think conventional wisdom is a shorter deliberation favors the prosecution, longer is the defense, and then longer than that it ends up being a lot of times back to the prosecution, so it's not as if you can say anything from today," she said.
Jurors submitted two questions to the court during their deliberations. One was to ask whether the boxes found in Powell's bedroom when police served a search warrant on his house — including the box that contained the disk with the digital images that are the basis of the charges — belonged to Powell.
Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper wrote back to jurors that because the question was about facts of the case and not a legal issue, he could not answer it and asked the jury to continue deliberating.
Bremner admitted, however, it was troubling that the jury would be asking such a question. "I think the evidence clearly shows the things in his room were his," she said.
Near the end of the day, the jury asked to review the disk. A laptop was taken back to the jury room for the jurors to view the images again.
For the majority of the day, however, jurors were out of sight of the public as they discussed the case in a back room while friends and family members of both Steven Powell and Susan Cox Powell waited in or nearby the courthouse for a decision.
Attorneys on both sides asked jurors to "use your head" and "don't leave your common sense at the door" before the judge turned the case over to them.
For the prosecution, that means finding Powell guilty of 14 counts of voyeurism. For the defense, it means acquitting Powell because the state failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
During closing arguments, prosecutor Grant Blinn delivered a PowerPoint presentation listing the many reasons why Powell should be found guilty. Using the theme he presented at opening arguments of Powell having a secret, Blinn closed by saying, "It is a secret no longer because now the entire world knows Mr. Powell's secret."
Two sisters, then ages 8 and 10, who had just moved into a home next to the Powells in 2006, had no idea that Steven Powell was "lurking in the shadows of his own bedroom" and taking pictures of the girls in their most private moments in their own bathroom, he said.
"Nothing is more disturbing for a teen girl than knowing a middle-aged man next door is taking naked pictures of them," Blinn said.
He then detailed the evidence and noted there was only one place from which the pictures of the girls could have been taken.
"It's not reasonable to think somebody else would have this collection of images" and store them in someone else's bedroom, Blinn said.
But defense attorney Travis Currie tried to get jurors to question the evidence and convince them that the state did not prove its case "beyond a reasonable doubt."
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