OGDEN - Accused police killer Matthew David Stewart hanged himself with a bedsheet in his Weber County Jail cell early Friday, County Attorney Dee Smith said today.
Jailers checked on Stewart one hour earlier, Smith said. He termed the watch on Stewart as "vigilant."
"Suicides in correctional facilities are a microcosm of our society," Sheriff Terry Thompson said.
Smith and Thompson took no questions after announcing Stewart's death.
Earlier today, defense attorney Bernie Allen said Stewart's family told him the death was by hanging.
The family posted on Facebook about the death.
"Our family regrets to announce that our son Matthew David Stewart is in the hands of his creator after a long and courageous battle with a corrupt and arrogant judicial system. He was supposed to be considered innocent until he was proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt," the posting said.
father, Michael Stewart, told The Associated Press he was notified of
his son's death at 5:30 a.m. Friday by a sheriff's deputy.
Michael Stewart says he doesn't believe foul play was involved and says it may have been a suicide. He says his son was despondent over a judge's recent refusal to hold a hearing on what the family believes was an illegally obtained search warrant. He accused jail officials of making his son's life miserable and leaving his mental illness untreated.
Weber County Sheriff Terry Thompson denied those allegations Friday.
"I think he gave up," Michael Stewart said about his son's death. "He was depressed."
May 22 a judge denied a defense challenge to the pot search warrant that led to the armed shootout at Stewart's home that injured six and left a narcotics officer dead.
The motion attacked the credibility of the members of the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force who forcibly entered Stewart's Ogden home on Jan. 4, 2012 with guns drawn to serve the warrant authorized by a judge as a "knock and announce" warrant. Stewart was accused of shooting six officers, Jared Francom fatally, and was himself wounded. He faced the death penalty for Francom's death.
Today, Smith said that now Stewart is dead and there will be no trial, he can release more details of the shooting investigation. He said Stewart fired his weapon 31 times, striking officers 17 times. Smith said the evidence undercuts the Stewart family's argument that the police operation was wrongful.
Stewart was also charged with seven counts of attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; and production of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony.
The warrant served on his home differed from a "no-knock" warrant, where officers "breach" a home with a battering ram and forcibly enter with the element of surprise to ensure officer safety and prevent evidence from being destroyed. Officials describe a "knock and announce" warrant as employing a brief pause meant to give the subject of the warrant a chance to let officers in voluntarily before a breach.
In filing the 142-page motion challenging the Stewart search warrant in March, lead defense counsel Randy Richards said it only related to the 16 marijuana plants seized from the home the day after the shootings, and did not directly affect the homicide and other charges against Stewart.
Stewart was scheduled to go to trial in April of 2014.
Here is the complete family statement: