TACOMA, Wash. >> Josh Powell’s family can share in the life insurance proceeds from the two young sons he killed in 2012, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton’s ruling last week came in a dispute between the families of Powell and his long-missing wife, Susan Powell, over three insurance policies covering the couple and the boys.
Josh Powell is believed to have killed Susan Powell in Utah in 2009. He then moved to Washington state, where he killed himself and the couple’s boys.
Under the ruling, roughly $793,000 will go to Josh Powell’s family. Thomas West, a lawyer working with the family, said Monday that Josh Powell’s father, Steven Powell, has disclaimed any interest in the proceeds, meaning that the bulk of it will instead go to Powell’s mother, with smaller amounts going to Josh Powell’s sister and his surviving brother.
Of the money going to the family, $264,000 is from an insurance rider covering the lives of the boys.
Susan Powell’s parents, Charles and Judy Cox, had argued that the Powells shouldn’t get any of that money under Washington’s "slayer statute," which prohibits killers from receiving life insurance proceeds covering their victim. The judge ruled that the law prohibits killers themselves from receiving those proceeds, but not their relatives.
About $2.2 million from the disputed policies is going to a trust or to Susan’s father as conservator of her assets. When she is declared legally dead in December — five years after her disappearance — those assets, including a separate $500,000 life insurance policy, will flow into the trust, which was set up by the couple before she disappeared.
The Coxes want to retain the trust money, but the Powells believe it should be split between the families. That issue remains pending before a Utah judge.
The Cox family’s lawyer, Anne Bremner, said Monday she remains unconvinced that Steven Powell has really waived any claims to the insurance money. Powell was recently released from a Washington prison, where he served time for taking videos of young neighbor girls undressing and using the bathroom. Bremner won a $2 million judgment on behalf of the girls, and if Steve Powell received the money through court proceedings it would be easier to track it and obtain it for them, she said.
The Coxes hope to use the insurance money to support various organizations and foundations, Bremner said.