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Suspect in Ogden officer shootings back in hospital

Published: Monday, June 18 2012 5:14 p.m. MDT

OGDEN — A July preliminary hearing for a man accused of shooting six police officers, killing one of them, was canceled Monday after the man was hospitalized.

Matthew David Stewart, 38, had to undergo surgery, according to his mother, Sonja Stewart. The treatment was remedial care for the gunshot wounds the man received in a massive shootout at his Ogden home on Jan. 4.

"We saw it coming," she said Monday. "We're praying for him; we're hoping that he's OK."

Stewart is facing charges of murder, a capital offense; seven counts of attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; and production of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony.

Ogden police officer Jared Francom was killed and five other officers were also shot and injured during the melee when the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force showed up at Stewart's home to serve a search warrant. A hearing on the evidence against him was set to begin July 18, but the hearing was postponed Monday due to Stewart's health problems.

"His physical condition is such that they don't know how long he is going to be there," deputy Weber County attorney Gary Heward said. "He's not going to be able to attend the preliminary hearing."

Sonja Stewart said her son could be in the hospital for three weeks. Defense attorneys have said they are also waiting for evidence, including ballistic reports. Regardless, Heward said prosecutors are ready to move forward.

"We're ready to go when the preliminary hearing is reset," he said. "We will be there, we will be ready, we will put on the evidence."

Before Stewart's health issues, the case was stalled because of discussions about who would represent Stewart, who could face the death penalty in the case. The man was found indigent and attorneys were appointed for him, but his family started a website — www.helpmatthewstewart.org — to raise money for a private defense attorney.

Ultimately, the attorney the family wanted, Randall Richards, offered to work the case without pay, raising questions about who will pay for the experts and research needed to mount a defense.

Another scheduling hearing has been set for July 18.

Emiley Morgan

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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