OGDEN — A judge has finally settled the matter of who will represent a man charged with killing a police officer.
Three separate attorneys have been working for Matthew David Stewart, 37, who is charged with capital murder in the death of Ogden police officer Jared Francom during a shootout Jan. 4 at Stewart's Ogden home. Five other officers were also shot and injured during the melee after the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force showed up at his home to serve a search warrant.
Two county-funded attorneys — William Albright and Ryan Bushell — were appointed to handle the case by 2nd District Judge Noel Hyde after Stewart was found indigent. But defense attorney Randy Richards, who first appeared in court on Stewart's behalf, has refused to withdraw from the case and continues to file motions for him.
"As a result, the court is concerned that defendant's dual defense may engender conflicting motions, duplicative requests for resources and, ultimately, confusion in this case," Hyde wrote in a ruling issued Tuesday.
Before Hyde's ruling, Richards filed a number of motions alleging that prosecutors would not work with him or comply with requests for evidence. Weber County Attorney Dee Smith then held a unique press conference expressing anger about Richards' motions and clarifying that his office was working with Albright and Bushell.
Meantime, Stewart's family has set up a website asking for as much as $70,000 to pay for the man's defense. The donations section of the website has been disabled twice because the family does not yet have the proper permit to solicit donations.
"As indigent counsel, Mr. Albright and Mr. Bushell are authorized to receive compensation from the county for their services," Hyde wrote. "Mr. Richards, as privately retained counsel, however, is not entitled to be so compensated. If Mr. Richards wishes to continue representing defendant, he may do so through funds defendant provides, or he may volunteer his time on a pro bono basis."
Richards has reiterated that he is Stewart's "attorney of choice." Hyde said Stewart has not waived his right to indigent counsel, which means the court must appoint public defenders for him.
But that does not prevent Richards from staying on the case. Still, the judge wants the attorneys to work together and said it would be "inappropriate" for Richards to continue to file motions independent of Albright and Bushell.
"The defendant's right to an adequate defense does not entitle him to multiple defenses with multiple attorneys acting with separate strategies and agendas," the judge wrote.
From now on, Hyde will require that all three attorneys act under the direction of Albright, who must sign or co-sign on all documents filed before the court. The judge also asked that the names of all the defense attorneys appear on court documents and that one attorney be designated to handle oral arguments if such arguments become necessary.
In addition to aggravated murder, a capital offense, Stewart also faces seven counts of attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; and production of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony. Prosecutors have said they intend to seek the death penalty.