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Powers pleads guilty in kidnapping case: Sentencing set for January

Steven Powers

Steven Powers, the last of three men charged in connection with the 2017 abduction of Jasmine Block of Alexandria, entered a guilty plea Wednesday afternoon in Douglas County District Court.

Block, who is now 16, gained national attention after police say she escaped from three men while being held captive for nearly a month. She disappeared from her Alexandria home in August 2017.

An amended complaint was filed with the court that dropped Powers' criminal sexual conduct charge from count one to count two, which is a lesser charge. While in court, he pleaded guilty to the amended charge and also the charge of kidnapping.

Powers, 21, of Mankato, is expected to be sentenced to 104 months (about eight and a half years) in prison.

"I feel so much better now that all three have pleaded guilty," said Sarah Block, Jasmine's mother. "This has dragged on too long. And of course I would like to see all of them spend their whole lives in prison, but it's not up to me."

Powers takes the stand

Powers, who was represented by public defenders Carter Greiner and Holly Danielson, was called to the stand by Judge Timothy Churchwell and questioned by Greiner.

Powers said that he understood the charges, and when he was asked how he pleaded to both charges, his reply to both was, "I plead guilty."

Powers was also asked if he understood he was giving up all rights, including rights to a trial and any appeal rights, and he replied that he understood and that he was indeed guilty of the charges against him.

During questioning, Powers said he found the juvenile girl locked in a closet at the home of Thomas Barker, one of the other men charged in the case. When asked if he had had sexual relations with the minor child, Powers said he had.

Powers was asked about how the men transported the girl from Barker's home in Carlos to a home in Grant County. He explained that Barker told her to get in a duffel bag and that after she did, Powers zipped the bag shut.

One of the other men charged in the case, Joshua Holby, carried the bag, with the girl stuffed inside, outside and put her in the back of a truck. Powers then said he drove to the house in Grant County.

Greiner asked Powers if he had consent from the girl or the girl's parents, to which he replied, "No."

Churchwell said he had sufficient enough information and formally accepted the guilty plea from Powers.

Powers' sentencing hearing was set for Wednesday, Jan. 16, at 1:30 p.m.

The other two men

In July, Thomas Barker, 33, of Carlos, pleaded guilty to kidnapping, criminal sexual conduct in the first degree with a dangerous weapon and criminal sexual conduct in the first degree causing fear of great bodily harm. All are felony-level charges.

Under the terms of an agreement between the prosecution and Barker's attorney, Barker is expected to be sentenced to 25 years in prison. His sentencing hearing is set for Friday, Nov. 30 at 9 a.m.

Joshua Holby, 32, of Carlos, pleaded guilty in September to two counts of kidnapping, which is a felony-level offense. Under the guidelines and because he has no prior criminal record, Holby is expected to be sentenced to 86 months (roughly seven years) in prison. His sentencing hearing is set for Tuesday, Jan. 8, at 1:30 p.m.

Victim impact statements will be read by Block's family at all three sentencing hearings.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

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