Inmate stands trial in killing of mother of three

SALINAS (BCN) — An inmate serving 15 years to life for murder will stand trial in alleged killing that has gone unsolved for about 34 years, Monterey County prosecutors announced Friday.

Alfred Powell, now 60, is in prison for the March 3, 1983 murder of 30-year-old Pebble Beach hairstylist Suzanne Nixon.

Powell will now stand trial for the alleged killing in 1982 of Seaside resident Sandra Steppuhn, Monterey County Superior Court Judge Julie Culver ruled.

Culver issued the ruling following a two-day preliminary hearing in which she found sufficient evidence for Powell to answer to the charge, prosecutors said.

Steppuhn was a 32-year-old mother of three and living with roommates when she gave a ride to a male hitchhiker and was not seen again.

Witnesses identified Powell as the hitchhiker, according to prosecutors.

The car Steppuhn was driving was found abandoned the following year in Monterey and Steppuhn had been a missing person for 32 years until September.

That’s when landscapers were digging in a yard on Third Street in Monterey and found Steppuhn’s skeletal remains in a makeshift grave.

The property was an address of Powell’s when Steppuhn went missing, prosecutors said.

Powell will return to court for an arraignment July 7.

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