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Steven Powell renews claims that 2011 search of his house was illegal

TACOMA, Wash. — On the eve of his child pornography trial, Steven Powell is once again claiming the search of his Puyallup, Washington, home in August 2011 was illegal.

In October, prosecutors refiled a charge of possession of child pornography against Powell, 64, in Pierce County Superior Court after an appeals court determined that the charge was wrongly dismissed by a judge during Powell's original 2012 trial.

The father of Josh Powell is accused of taking inappropriate pictures of two neighbor girls, ages 10 and 8, using a telephoto lens from his bedroom peering into their home. If convicted, Powell — who already served 30 months in prison after being convicted of voyeurism — could be sentenced to an additional five years.

Powell's trial was scheduled to begin Monday but was continued until next week after he filed a 127-page motion claiming the search warrant served by West Valley police in Utah on his Puyallup home was illegal and that all evidence collected as a result of the warrant should be tossed.

In the motion filed by Powell and his attorney Travis Currie, Powell calls for a Franks Hearing, typically used to determine whether an affidavit used to obtain a search warrant was based on false statements by the police officer.

The warrant was executed by West Valley police as part of their investigation into the search for Susan Powell, Josh Powell's wife who has been missing since December of 2009. The warrant was served, in part, because detectives wanted personal journals belonging to Susan Powell that were inside the Puyallup home, and investigators claimed Josh and Steven Powell were not willing to turn them over.

It was during the lengthy search of the Powells' home that police discovered thousands of pictures and videos of young girls taken by Steven Powell, as well as photos of his daughter-in-law.

In his motion filed last week, Steven Powell contends the search of his home was not warranted because he had been cooperating with law enforcement, including offering the journals to detectives, and because his residence had already been under extensive surveillance by West Valley police.

The motion also included transcripts of recent depositions of three West Valley police officers who played key roles during the 2011 search: detective Ellis Maxwell, Lt. Bill Merritt and Deputy Chief Phil Quinlan.

During the interviews, the Utah officers talked about the extensive surveillance that was conducted on the Powell home, including video surveillance, as well as wire taps and cellphone monitoring in which investigators could listen to conversations in Washington from West Valley City.

The argument that the Powell home was searched illegally was first raised by Powell's previous attorneys in 2012 during his original voyeurism trial. At that time, they contended their client's Fourth Amendment rights were violated.

The motion was ultimately denied.

Powell's new motion will be considered by a judge on Monday.

Josh Powell murdered his two young sons, Charlie and Braden, in 2012 before killing himself. Susan Powell's body has never been found.

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam