02/08/2012 at 10:00 AM EST
Josh Powell is being painted by his cousins, Maurice and Patti Leach, as a victim of outside influences.
Authorities say Powell attacked his own two young sons with a hatchet before blowing them and himself up
in a house explosion Sunday
After prefacing their remarks by saying, "There is no justification for the loss of two innocent children, Charles and Braden," the Leaches go on to point fingers of blame at the courts, the news media, the government and religious bias.
"We felt that Josh represented himself using a great deal of restraint with patience and dignity at his children's custody hearing
, even though it did not work out in his favor," they say. "We believe that Josh continued to use this restraint because of the fear of losing his sons and the love he had for all of his family members that he so desperately tried to protect."
Saying that Josh asked them to assume guardianship of the sons should the situation ever warrant it, "Uncle Maurice" and "Aunt Patti," as they call themselves, said that they would.
"When we arrived in the state of Washington we believed in America's legal system," the Leaches say in their statement. "After witnessing how broken the system was and the events that took place before our eyes, both inside the courtroom and outside, we left for home in disillusionment of the legal system and concern for our family's posterity.
"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," their statement continues. "We believe that the stewardship of the responsibilities that have been entrusted to those organizations and individuals has been completely compromised."
Susan's family as well as law enforcement refuse to call this a tragedy – or to blame anyone other than Josh, however. "This was not a tragedy; this was a horrible murder of two little kids," Pierce County sheriff Paul Pastor said angrily. "Let's not sanitize it. Let's call it what it is, which is something evil."