- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2003


   A convicted killer who had avoided death row, then incriminated himself in a boastful letter to a prosecutor, was sentenced to death yesterday in Prince William County Circuit Court for the 1999 attempted rape and murder of a teenage girl.
   “All I can say is that justice prevailed,” said Lorraine Reed, the victim’s mother. “We got what we wanted.”
    Mrs. Reed cried and hugged family members and friends after Paul Warner Powell was sentenced to death for the January 1999 attempted rape and fatal stabbing of Stacie Reed, then 16.
   Powell, 25, attacked Stacie, then waited for her 14-year-old sister, Kristie, in the family’s Manassas home, where he raped her, then slit her wrists and throat and stabbed her in the chest.
   Kristie, now 18, survived the attack and will graduate high school next month, though she still bears scars on her neck. After the sentencing, she smiled widely and walked quickly out of the courtroom to call her boyfriend on her cell phone.
   Mrs. Reed thanked her family and friends for their support. She also thanked Prince William Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul B. Ebert, who became emotional at several points during the trial. He has said he feels close to the Reed family.
   “We can move forward now and focus on our future,” Mrs. Reed said. She also said Powell is “in a 10-by-10 cell and has nothing but time to think. He’s exactly where I want him.”
   Powell was convicted of capital murder in 2000 for killing Stacie. However, the verdict was overturned by the Virginia Supreme Court, and he was then convicted and sentenced to three life sentences for raping and attempting to murder Kristie, who testified against him.
    Powell’s first conviction was overturned because he was charged under a provision of the state death penalty that makes it a capital crime to rape and murder in the same incident. The state’s Supreme Court ruled that Powell committed separate acts in murdering Stacie and raping Kristie.
   Assuming he could not face the death penalty a second time under the double jeopardy law, Powell wrote a taunting four-page letter to Mr. Ebert.
   “Since … the Va. Supreme Court said that I can’t be charged with capital murder again, I figured I would tell you the rest of what happened on Jan. 29, 1999 to show you how stupid all of y’all … are,” Powell wrote.
   Powell boasted in the letter that he killed Stacie because she had resisted his attempts to rape her, and it allowed prosecutors to charge him with capital murder for a second time. He was convicted in January. His execution date was set for Sept. 2, but he plans to appeal.
   Appearing yesterday with a goatee and buzz cut, Powell sat motionless through most of the court proceedings. He stirred slightly but did not look at Mrs. Reed as she read a statement about how the crime hurt her family.
   “How do I explain that our world is shattered into a 1,000 pieces?” she asked while looking at Powell. “I pity you. You are a coward and you have no remorse.”
   Mrs. Reed said she tried to make eye contact with Powell, who was on the anti-depressant drug Prozac, hoping to see some sign of regret. He did not look at her.
   “I want to get to a point where I can one day forgive him, but I don’t know if that day’s going to come,” she said.
   Powell has written taunting letters to Mrs. Reed while in jail, prompting Mr. Ebert to call him an “evil person.”
   “There’s nothing we can do as a society for Paul Powell, except remove people who think like he does, and perhaps society will be a better place,” Mr. Ebert said.
   As Circuit Court Judge Herman A. Whisenant Jr. read his verdict, Powell looked down and tapped two fingers lightly on the desk in front of him. His mother sat alone three rows behind the defendant’s chair. She left immediately after the verdict was read.
   

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