OGDEN -- Prosecutors and the defense continue sparring via the most recent motions filed in the Matthew David Stewart death penalty case.
Stewart is charged with capital homicide in the Jan. 4 shootout with police at his Ogden home that left Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force Agent Jared Francom dead. He is also charged with seven counts of attempted aggravated murder for shooting at seven other officers, five of whom were injured.
The Weber County Attorney's Office this week is formally objecting to defense counsel Randy Richards' motion pressing his request for appointment of a second investigator for the defense team.
With no hearings or briefing schedules set for the various motions, the next hearing in the Stewart case is a March 19 status conference.
Richards also filed a motion last week asking a judge to order officials to allow the defense access to the crime scene, Stewart's home, to conduct its own investigation. The motion claims every informal request for access has been denied by prosecutors, saying its investigators were still examining the scene.
"It has now been six weeks since the shooting," reads Richards' motion, "and defense counsel desperately needs access to the home in order to prepare a defense, preserve evidence, take pictures and other investigative testing before time and weather or other factors deteriorate evidence."
Richards was retained by Stewart's family within a few days after the shooting, his involvement since becoming controversial as Weber County officials pressed for appointment of public defenders for Stewart as the family's funds dwindled.
At the Feb. 7 appointment of the two public defenders, Ryan Bushell and William Albright, prosecutors also asked 2nd District Judge Noel Hyde to sign a gag order that would limit the comments to the press made by attorneys on both sides of the case. Richards has filed a motion opposing the gag order. Hyde has not ruled on the request.
"One of the most basic notions in the body of law dealing with indigent defense is that an indigent defendant is not automatically entitled to whatever expert or resource he chooses, regardless of the expense," Deputy Weber County Attorney Chris Allred wrote in his motion opposing Richards' request for the additional investigator.
"Rather, the United States Supreme Court has held that an indigent defendant is only entitled to the 'basic tools of an adequate defense' ... the state is not required to purchase for the indigent defendant all the assistance that his wealthier counterpart might buy."
Weber County Forum writeup