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Judge blocks move to suppress key Powell evidence

Steve Powell appears in a Pierce County Superior Court hearing, Monday, April 23, 2012, in Tacoma, Wash. Powell's attorney said Monday that investigators frustrated by their unsuccessful quest to find Powell's missing daughter-in-law pursued an "illegal"
Steve Powell appears in a Pierce County Superior Court hearing, Monday, April 23, 2012, in Tacoma, Wash. Powell's attorney said Monday that investigators frustrated by their unsuccessful quest to find Powell's missing daughter-in-law pursued an "illegal" warrant that eventually led to voyeurism charges against Powell.
, AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington judge on Tuesday cleared the way for the voyeurism trial of missing Utah mother Susan Powell's father-in-law, dismissing his request to suppress key evidence in the case.

Judge Ronald Culpepper determined authorities had a proper search warrant when they scoured Steve Powell's home last year. In that search, they uncovered thousands of images of females being videotaped without their knowledge, including Susan Powell.

Steve Powell faces several voyeurism charges and one count of possession of child pornography. His trial is scheduled to start May 7.

Steve Powell's attorneys had argued the warrant was illegal because it was essentially a fishing expedition designed to gather general evidence against Susan Powell's husband, Josh. Prosecutors said the warrant was necessary for investigators who were trying to solve Susan Powell's 2009 disappearance.

Culpepper determined there was probable cause to search the home.

While court documents indicate authorities were focusing on whether Josh Powell was involved in his wife's disappearance, investigators have said they also are interested in speaking with Steve Powell about his daughter-in-law's disappearance. They say he has been uncooperative in that investigation.

Steve Powell's bedroom also contained images of nude female bodies with Susan Powell's face copied onto them, authorities said in court documents.

In one set of journals that investigators have described in court documents, Susan Powell wrote that she wished her husband would sever ties with Steve Powell. She described Steven Powell as a pedophile.

Follow AP reporter Mike Baker at https://www.facebook.com/mikebakerap