Josh Powell as victim? Relatives' claim outrages almost everyone
Relatives of Josh Powell -- the man suspected in his wife's 2009 disappearance in Utah, the man who took an axe to his two young sons this weekend, the man who then killed the boys and himself in a house explosion -- have released a statement portraying him as a victim driven to horrific extremes.
The court of public opinion begs to differ.
Maurice and Patti Leach, Powell's aunt and uncle, have stepped into the spotlight surrounding the deaths with a statement released to the local media. It begins by saying "there is no justification for the loss of two innocent children, Charles and Braden." But it goes on to blame a variety of entities for the fiery murder-suicide -- and Powell is not among them.
Instead, the Leaches praise Powell for the restraint, patience and dignity they say he displayed during the ordeal, and suggest that he was a man driven to take his own life and the lives of his children:
In our hearts and minds we feel that this family tragedy was set into motion from the beginning due in part to the various questionable government agencies' practices, religious bias, the internet kangaroo courts, and sensationalized news media, all of whom have circumvented the laws that protect all of our rights to due process. We believe that the stewardship of the responsibilities that have been entrusted to those organizations and individuals has been completely compromised. America, this is not only a tragedy, Sunday was a dark day for all of our families.
The statement, which you can read in full at KIROTV.com is signed "Uncle Maurice, Aunt Patti" and concludes with a "P.S. Josh, Susan, Charles, and Braden, you will always remain in our hearts."
The Leaches' statement followed the release of a transcript of the 911 call that Powell's sister, Alina, made at the exact time of Sunday's inferno. She had just read an email that her brother had sent earlier, saying "good-bye."
On the call, Alina Powell can be heard struggling to hold back her emotions as she tries to explain the background to the 911 dispatcher. In doing so, she describes her brother as "the one that has been being abused by everyone." She adds: "I know the abuse has been hard on him. The abuse has been extremely difficult."
And in the video above, you can also hear Alina Powell tell the media: "You caused this."
Authorities, meanwhile, continue to reel from allegations that the tragedy could have been predicted given Powell's increasingly desperate state. They're also facing suggestions that 911 dispatchers may have bungled the emergency calls just before Sunday's fiery explosion in Washington state. That explosion claimed the lives of Powell and his sons Charles, 7, and Braden, 5.
In short, virtually every aspect of the case remains under investigation -- amid intense public scrutiny.
But readers and viewers in both Washington and Utah seem virtually unified in their outrage at any attempt to defend Powell.
"I just have to say ... with all due respect to Josh Powell's aunt & uncle...The people to blame are absolutely not the media...nor the judge....nor the general population of the state of Washington! The "fault" lies with Josh Powell himself...and only him!!!" said one commenter KIROTV.com.
"No matter how many people you bring up in your attempt to spread the blame, Josh Powell was the only one who intended for the kids to die," wrote another commenter at the Salt Lake City Tribune.
-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch