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Steven Powell returns to court Monday fighting evidence against him

Published: Thursday, July 2 2015 11:21 a.m. MDT

A makeshift memorial for Susan Cox Powell was set up at Steven and Josh Powell's home in Puyallup, Wash., on Aug. 26, 2011, while police gathered evidence there while serving a search warrant. Steven Powell will appear in court Monday fighting to have that evidence thrown out. Susan Powell has been missing since Dec. 6, 2009. (Pat Reavy, Deseret News) A makeshift memorial for Susan Cox Powell was set up at Steven and Josh Powell's home in Puyallup, Wash., on Aug. 26, 2011, while police gathered evidence there while serving a search warrant. Steven Powell will appear in court Monday fighting to have that evidence thrown out. Susan Powell has been missing since Dec. 6, 2009. (Pat Reavy, Deseret News)

TACOMA, Wash. — A Pierce County Superior Court judge Monday will listen to oral arguments concerning the evidence collected in Steven Powell's voyeurism and child pornography case.

In March, the 61-year-old father of Josh Powell filed a motion seeking to have the evidence collected against him during a search of his home in August thrown out, claiming the search violated his constitutional rights.

West Valley police had traveled to Powell's Puyallup, Wash., home with a search warrant seeking childhood diaries of missing Utah mother Susan Cox Powell. What they found were thousands of photographs of young children, mostly young girls, many in partial states of undress. Police say the pictures were taken secretly without the subject's knowledge or consent.

Steven Powell was arrested in September and charged with 14 counts of voyeurism and one count of possession of materials of minors engaged in explicit conduct. His charges stem from allegedly taking pictures of two neighbor girls, then ages 8 and 10, through an open window into their bathroom without their knowledge in 2006 and 2007.

Steven Powell, the father-in-law of missing Utah woman Susan Powell, appears in Pierce County courtroom Sept. 23, 2011, in Tacoma, Wash. Powell has pleaded not guilty to charges of voyeurism and possession of child pornography. He will appear in court Monday seeking to have evidence against him thrown out. (Ted S. Warren, AP) Steven Powell, the father-in-law of missing Utah woman Susan Powell, appears in Pierce County courtroom Sept. 23, 2011, in Tacoma, Wash. Powell has pleaded not guilty to charges of voyeurism and possession of child pornography. He will appear in court Monday seeking to have evidence against him thrown out. (Ted S. Warren, AP)

Powell's defense team, however, says the search violated their client's Fourth Amendment rights because it went "overboard" and was nothing more than an "exploratory, random, fishing expedition." Because of that, they argue that the evidence collected should not be admissible.

They also believe the search itself was unwarranted because there was nothing connecting Susan Powell's diaries with possible criminal activity.

Prosecutors countered by saying the diaries were an important part of a kidnapping and homicide investigation.

"The journals are the words of a missing mother who is the victim in a homicide investigation. She cannot speak for herself. Her journals are necessary to help police get a better understanding of her life and find out information that would help them develop further leads," prosecutors argued in court documents.

Those same documents describe Josh Powell as the "prime suspect" in his wife's disappearance.

Because Steven and Josh Powell had already posted a portion of her diaries on their own website, investigators said they had no way of knowing if the diaries were intact or not so they needed to collect all digital media in the house.

The judge is expected to listen to oral arguments Monday, then make a ruling possibly as early as Tuesday.

Josh Powell killed himself and his two young sons at his rental home in Graham, Wash., in February. Since then, there have been widespread questions and speculation about what Steven Powell knows about his daughter-in-law's disappearance.

It has been noted in court documents, police reports and by family members that Steven Powell had an obsession with Susan that she did not reciprocate.

User discretion advised: Court documents contain sensitive material.

Steven Powell Warrants

Josh Powell storage unit search warrant

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