OGDEN — A man charged with opening fire on police serving a search warrant at his home — killing one officer — made his second appearance in court Tuesday.
At the hearing, 2nd District Judge Noel Hyde made the decision to appoint new attorneys for Matthew David Stewart. Attorneys Ryan Bushell and William Albright were appointed, replacing attorney Randy Richards.
The recommendation came from the civil division of the Weber County Attorney's Office, but deputy county attorney Chris Allred said it was made independent of the prosecutors handling the case.
"We decided to go with (Albright) for out-of-county counsel," he said. "It might be cleaner to go with someone who isn't connected to the defendant's family."
Allred said Richards knew some of the officers involved and was a friend of Stewart's father.
Richards and Weber County Attorney Dee Smith declined comment following the hearing. Smith referred to a gag order that is currently pending before the court and would apply to attorneys involved in the case.
Stewart, 37, is facing charges of aggravated murder, a capital offense; seven counts of attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; and production of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony. Prosecutors also filed a dangerous weapon penalty enhancement charge and filed notice they intend to seek the death penalty.
The charges stem from a gunfight Stewart allegedly started with members of the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force after the task force showed up at his home to serve a warrant on Jan. 4.
Officers arrived at the home that night to serve a search warrant, as officers had received information that Stewart was growing marijuana. After announcing their presence, they were able to clear the main floor and basement of the home before Stewart emerged and allegedly opened fire.
Ogden police officer Jared Francom died from injuries suffered during the shootout. Five other officers were also shot.
Investigators later found a marijuana grow operation in the basement, including artificial lighting and a water system.
Stewart told a friend that if police officers ever tried to stop his marijuana cultivation, he'd "go out in a blaze of glory and shoot to kill," according to an arrest warrant filed in 2nd District Court. He was hospitalized for nearly a month before being booked into jail.
At Tuesday's hearing, his face was clean-shaven and his hair combed — a marked departure from his appearance in his jail-booking photo, which showed the man with a long beard and unkempt hair.
A status conference has been set in the case for March 19.
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