OGDEN -- A judge appointed two public defenders for accused police-shooter Matthew David Stewart on Tuesday while prosecutors asked his paid attorney to withdraw from the case.
But Randy Richards declined to step down as the contention between him and the prosecution was on display in the hearing before 2nd District Judge Noel Hyde.
Hyde set a March 19 status conference as Richards complained that prosecutors were dragging their feet in providing him with the evidence against his client.
"I've gotten nothing from the state, and I've been told I'll get nothing," Richards said. " ... I need to make a record of that because the state is trying to take my client's life."
"For him to represent to this court, and publicly, that the county attorney's office is hiding something, is just wrong," Deputy Weber County Attorney Chris Shaw responded.
Stewart is charged with nine felonies and could face the death penalty in a Jan. 4 shootout with police serving a search warrant at his home. Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force agent Jared Francom died and five other officers were injured.
Hyde appointed William Albright, a Davis County public defender, and Ryan Bushell, a veteran of public defender assignments in Ogden, to Stewart's defense team.
Kasey Burrell, one of the strike force agents Stewart is accused of shooting, and Derek Draper, one he allegedly shot at but missed, were among the sparse crowd of spectators. They looked on as Richards and prosecutors sparred for much of the almost 90-minute hearing. Both officers declined to speak with reporters.
Richards said the lack of evidence turned over to him hamstrings his attempt to defend his client.
"The press gets discovery, and I don't," he said, noting he had to go to media websites to obtain the 911 tapes and Stewart's arrest warrant affidavit.
Shaw responded that the 911 tapes were released by the Weber Consolidated Dispatch Center, not his office, and the arrest affidavit is a public document, available at the 2nd District courthouse.
The report being compiled by his office to turn over to the defense is "hundreds and hundreds" of pages long, Shaw said. It includes interviews of 52 officers contacted in the investigation of the shooting, as well as the reports of the Weber Sheriff's CSI unit, the state Crime Laboratory and the state Medical Examiner's Office. Transcribing the investigation's 42 cassette disc recordings will take weeks, he said.
Despite Richards' contention that the process amounted to the prosecution selecting the defendant's legal counsel, Deputy Weber County Attorney Chris Allred, of the office's Civil Division, told the judge the division's offering of contracts to Albright and Bushell was done properly.
"We thought it would be cleaner this way," Allred told reporters afterward. Allred said his office went with Albright and Bushell because one of the men practiced in Davis County and neither had prior involvement with Stewart's family. Stewart's father, Mike, has been an investigator for Weber public defenders over the years, including Richards.
The civil division did not consult with prosecutors on the appointment, but with Mike Bouwhuis, coordinator of Weber County's public defenders, Allred said before huddling in a conference room with Albright and his investigator, Carl Hurst, leaving Richards waiting outside.
Richards declined comment. His motion seeking $10,000 for investigator Kris Cantil was not discussed.
Richards has been paid by Stewart's family to represent him since a few days after the shooting. But Richards has filed an affidavit of indigency saying the family's funds have been exhausted and Stewart qualifies for public funding of his defense.