One of America’s most shocking sex offenders of recent years must remain behind bars for the rest of his natural life, a court ruled this week.
Rasheed Powell who, among other crimes, forced motel guests to fornicate for his viewing pleasure has lost an appeal against his lengthy prison term.
Powell, 48, of Elizabeth, New Jersey, was sentenced to 148 years in state prison back in 2018 for a series of attacks that took place in 2012.
The NJ Appellate Division this week upheld Powell’s conviction and sentence, according to a report in CentralJersey.com.
However, according to the outlet, the court did remand the case to correct technical errors in the sentence involving the merger of weapons offenses and the imposition of a Graves Act term, which sets mandatory minimum terms at sentencing for individuals convicted of handgun possession while in the course of committing certain crimes.
Powell was convicted of engaging in armed robberies and sexual assaults of couples staying in motels along Routes 1 and 9 in Linden and Elizabeth while wearing a mask. The assaults on four different dates took place during a six-week period starting in March 2012.
His victims identified him by photograph and in court as well as identified the vehicle he used, which belonged to a girlfriend, and used a handgun from a second girlfriend’s apartment.
Powell was convicted of 60 counts, including 24 counts of aggravated sexual assault for forcing his way into the motel rooms and forcing the couples to have sex at gunpoint, then locking the men in bathrooms and sexually assaulting the women.
In their appeal Powell’s attorneys argued an error was committed when the judge denied a motion to sever the first incident from the rest; the conviction on four counts of “certain persons ” weapons possession was tainted by two errors; the sentence is excessive; and some of the weapons convictions should have been merged.
The appeals court, however, found the judge did state the “defendant is entitled to have each count considered separately by the evidence which is relevant and material to that particular charge.”
Beginning on March 9, 2012, there were four incidents at motels on Routes 1 and 9 in Linden and Elizabeth in which a gunman dressed in black ski mask and black leather jacket forced his way into the room of couples, robbed them, forced them to strip and engage in sexual relations before ordering the men into the bathroom and sexually assaulting the women, all while pointing an automatic handgun at them.
In one incident the gunman took photographs of the couple engaging in sexual activity with the woman’s phone and then sent the photos to contacts the woman had recently messaged, according to court documents.
In another incident the gunman threatened to shoot the woman if she looked at him while he was sexually assaulting her, the documents say.
Another woman testified at trial that Powell had been in a relationship with her and kept shoes, a suit, a cellphone, leather jacket and two pairs of jeans at her home. The woman found one of the victim’s identification in the pocket of a leather jacket and victim’s laptop in a drawer. A handgun and magazine were found in the bottom drawer of the woman’s oven, according to the documents.