OGDEN — Matthew Stewart was hospitalized over the weekend for emergency surgery resulting from complications with wounds he suffered in a shootout with police.
Stewart was shot in the abdomen and leg during the Jan. 4 confrontation with police serving a search warrant at his home. One officer died and five others were injured. Stewart now faces the death penalty.
Defense attorney Randy Richards told 2nd District Judge Noel Hyde on Monday he had been advised by Stewart’s family and Weber County Jail officials that Stewart is in a hospital intensive care unit and will remain in the ICU for at least two weeks. The hospital was not identified.
Richards had filed a motion Friday to have Stewart’s preliminary hearing, scheduled for July, postponed before Stewart’s health became an issue. In the motion, Richards argued for a delay because ballistics tests from the shooting pending at the state crime lab would not be completed in time.
Hyde heard the arguments on the motion as prosecutors objected to any delay. But the judge opted to cancel the three-day preliminary hearing set to begin July 19 solely because of Stewart’s hospitalization.
He said there was a “substantial” likelihood that Stewart will not be able to take part in the hearing. But more so, Hyde ruled, “He’s presently unable to participate in the preparation for the preliminary hearing.”
Hyde instead set the July 18 date as a status conference to reschedule the preliminary hearing.
Richards told the judge Stewart’s family has told him that once Stewart is out of the ICU, a recovery period will be necessary. The family thinks it’s doubtful Stewart would be recovered enough to sit through the three-day hearing if it were held July 18 because of an “inability to take care of himself.”
In the debate over the ballistics reports, Deputy Weber County Attorney Gary Heward said the state crime lab is writing up the ballistics test results this week, with their review likely running through next week. The final report is anticipated during the first week in July, he said.
Richards said his ballistics expert and a forensic expert would likely need a month to review the report from the crime lab.
Defense co-counsel Mike Studebaker also advised Hyde that defense subpoenas for the personnel records of the victim officers in the case will be withdrawn and rewritten.
He said a prosecution motion citing procedural flaws filed last week to quash the June 6 subpoenas “was correct” and the subpoenas would be redone.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, the Jan. 4 shootout at Stewart’s home began as Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force agents had cleared the basement and the main level of Stewart’s residence.
Stewart opened fire from a concealed position at close range with a Beretta 9 mm semiautomatic pistol, fatally striking Ogden Police Officer Jared Francom six times, says the affidavit. Five other officers were wounded.
Stewart is charged with capital homicide in Francom’s death, which brings the death penalty. He is also charged with seven counts of attempted aggravated murder for the five wounded officers as well as two others he shot at and missed, according to the charges, and a drug distribution count for 16 marijuana plants found in the house.