Wednesday, December 23, 2009

University Of Utah Law Professor Daniel Medwed Reminds Us That Joshua Powell Is Still Entitled To The Presumption Of Innocence

Note: All posts on this case available HERE, with the most recent post displaying first. You can also visit the Susan Powell Facebook page HERE.

Missing: Susan Powell - She is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs about 130 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.

Each passing day produces a cavalcade of new revelations regarding the Susan Powell case, and in particular, the behavior of her husband, Joshua Powell. December 23rd, 2009 proved to be no different.

But the endless accounts of Powell's odd behavior has turned a large segment of the public against him, as evidenced by comments to various media stories. So KSL Channel 5 reported that University of Utah criminal law professor Daniel Medwed reminds the public that the presumption of innocence still applies, no matter how bizarre or illogical Joshua Powell's behavior seems. He explains that while there's no real difference between being a person of interest vs. a suspect, he believes the police have referred to Powell only as a person of interest as part of a strategy. "It seems like the police department here is really being careful in terms of dotting its I's and crossing its T's to make sure that it actually has probable cause to make the arrest", said Medwed

But if they name him a suspect, Medwed said it would imply an arrest was coming soon, and police may be waiting for more direct evidence to link him to Susan's disappearance. He said police could arrest Joshua based on circumstantial evidence, some of which includes:

* A wet spot found on the carpet with fans
* A rental car with hundreds of miles logged
* The couple's history of financial problems
* News of a pre-paid cell phone Josh purchased
* His improbable alibi of a camping trip the night Susan disappeared.

Video Courtesy of

Nevertheless, more stories about Joshua Powell's behavior surfaced in other sources today. Both the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune talked to Tim Peterson, who is a neighbor of the Powells and a member of their LDS Church ward. He and his wife are good friends with Susan Powell, and Petersen has helped her with her marriage counseling. Peterson was struck by some odd behavior on Joshua's part after Susan was discovered missing.

Peterson said friends and family members tried several times to call Josh Powell on his cell phone December 7th. When Powell finally answered, Peterson said, he didn't seem very panicked when they told him his wife was missing and no one had any idea where she was. "They told him, 'The police are here at your house. You might want to come home.' It took him two hours. When we asked him where he had been, he just said, 'I've been driving around West Valley City.' It took him two hours to get home. He wasn't in a big hurry to get home and find his wife, he just … I don't know. It's a really crappy situation," Peterson said.

Petersen also said that Joshua Powell stopped by the Petersons' house on Wednesday December 9th, but didn't want to talk about his wife at all despite their continuous questioning about what might have happened to her. He said Powell sat there in a daze, angry over the police seizure of his van. He wanted to talk about everything BUT the case, and seemed "careful" about everything he said. This struck Peterson as different from Powell's normal demeanor. Powell was not asking the questions that Petersen believes most husbands in that situation would ask, such as: What happened? When did it happen? Where did it happen? Then Peterson noticed that Powell's hands were absolutely wind burned. "They were just toast from the wind. His hands were absolutely toast. He kept taking a bottle of lotion out and putting it on his hands," Peterson said.

Peterson also discussed his efforts to help the Powells with their marriage. He and Susan Powell became close late this summer, when she asked him questions about marriage counseling, which Peterson and his wife previously had gone through. On the day of the Powells' first meeting with the LDS Family Services counselor, she told Peterson about Joshua Powell's controlling behavior, and how he had become more possessive and obsessive since moving to Utah five years ago. She told Peterson she wanted her husband to become active in the LDS Church again and get his temple recommend by their anniversary in 2010, or she was seriously considering divorcing him and taking the two boys with her. "She went to the marriage counselor hoping it would save their marriage," Peterson said. Susan would e-mail him from her workplace because Joshua was "possessive and controlling." Peterson said Joshua would not allow Susan to have any access to the computers at her home.

Powell talked with Peterson about her first four marriage counseling sessions, but stopped after Peterson counseled her to leave her husband, whom he didn't see making any effort to improve their relationship. "I told her she was a beautiful, talented woman who could be so much happier in a different situation," Peterson said. "I told her her husband was an energy suck and no one could stand to be around him." Peterson said Susan Powell wanted to be more social and have friends over more often, but fellow ward members couldn't stand Joshua and would avoid him. But as Susan responded favorably to the marriage counseling, Joshua became more withdrawn, according to KSTU Channel 13.

West Valley City Police Capt. Tom McLachlan would not discuss a phone or Powell's chapped hands, saying he will not discuss evidence in the case. He said police will temporarily reduce the number of investigators on the case during Christmas Day.

The parents of Susan Powell, Chuck and Judy Cox, are asking all of her friends and family to do acts of kindness over the holiday, and do them in the name of Susan Powell. They set the example by helping distribute presents to children through the Washington State Santa Cop program. Gifford wrote on Facebook, "Chuck and Judy Cox and all their girls have worked with Santa Cops over the years. Now they're doing it with a prayer in their hearts for one of those girls, Susan".

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