TACOMA, Wash. – A judge dismissed a child pornography charge against Steven Powell on Monday. Powell is accused of taking pictures and video of children and women without their knowledge. The judge decided that is voyeurism, but not child pornography.
He still face 14 counts of voyeurism.
Jury selection began Monday in the trial of Powell, 62, the father-in-law of missing Utah mother Susan Cox Powell.
A pool of 70 potential jurors was introduced to Powell inside a Pierce County courtroom. When asked whether any of them knew of Powell's case, a majority of them raised their hands. About a dozen of the potential jurors raised their hands a second time when asked if they had formed opinions about the case.
Four jurors were dismissed when they admitted they will not be able to be unbiased because of their opinions.
Judge Ronald Culpepper warned the pool against talking about the case with family members and friends, and especially against posting any information on Facebook or other social media outlets.
Potential jurors not dismissed will fill out questionnaires and return Tuesday to answer questions directly from attorneys. Opening statements could begin as early as Wednesday.
Police say they found thousands of images of nude girls and women on his computer when they searched his Puyallup home last year. He was arrested and booked into the Pierce County Jail in September.
In court Monday, prosecutors described a 2004 entry in which Powell wrote "He is a voyeur and Susan's an exhibitionist and they're a perfect match."
Defense attorneys don't want those journals brought up in the trial.
Susan’s family had no idea the journals existed.
"It shows how sick he is,” said Susan’s sister Denise Cox.
"That was revealing, really surprising to me the extent of his infatuation with my daughter,” said Chuck Cox.
The Cox's hope the trial will somehow solve the mystery of Susan's disappearance. They will attend every day of the trial, even though it's hard being in the same room with Powell, who showed little emotion on Monday.
“Just like a normal average day, like nothing was affecting him and he doesn't understand how much turmoil and grief this whole family has put our family through,” said Denise Cox.
Josh Powell, Steven’s son, set fire to his Graham, Wash. home, killing himself and his two sons in February after being ordered to undergo a psycho-sexual evaluation. Police have named him a suspect in his wife’s 2009 disappearance.
The Susan Powell case has garnered international attention, so finding an impartial jury could be difficult.
The defense may have just two witnesses – an investigator employed by the Pierce County Department of Assigned Counsel and a private investigator. It’s not believed that Steven Powell will take the stand.
The prosecution has nearly 30 witnesses, 20 of whom are law enforcement officers.