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Matthew Stewart planned to 'go out shooting' if police came, ex-girlfriend testifies

Judge orders him to stand trial for capital murder in officer's death

Published: Friday, Nov. 2 2012 5:49 p.m. MDT

Matthew David Stewart talks with an attorney during the third day of his preliminary hearing at 2nd District Courthouse in Ogden on Friday, Nov. 2, 2012.

Nicholas Draney

OGDEN — A short-haired, clean-shaven Matthew Stewart leaned forward attentively Friday, his gaze almost never breaking, as a judge announced he'd heard sufficient evidence to order him to stand trial for murdering a police officer and wounding five others.

Even as 2nd District Judge Noel Hyde recounted in great detail the emotional testimony from multiple officers who described the night they came under fire, Stewart's demeanor appeared to be far more docile than the description of a man who once told a former flame that he would "go out shooting" if police ever came to his home.

Stacy Wilson, who said she met Stewart when they were both working the night shift at a Riverdale Walmart, testified that she dated the man for approximately a year. They had multiple conversations that she said exhibited Stewart's hostility toward police.

"(He said) the government and the police officers were all corrupt," Wilson testified. "He was very against the government. He didn't like the IRS, he didn't like police officers at all. He said they were all power-hungry and we were living in a police state."

Wilson said Stewart only became "more adamant" in his views during the course of their yearlong relationship.

"He told me that if the police ever came to his house, that he would go out shooting, that he would not go out alive — he would not let them take him," she said.

Multiple police officers, over the course of three days, testified that Stewart did just that the night of Jan. 4 when members of the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force arrived at Stewart's home, 3268 Jackson Ave., to serve a search warrant.

When questioned by defense attorneys, Wilson said she could not recall whether she relayed Stewart's views about police to officers when she reported the marijuana growing operation in September 2011.

Each agent who was shot testified about the chaos and fear they experienced that night as they tried to escape and rescue fellow injured officers.

Officer Shawn Grogan was the first to be shot and was struck in the cheek; officer Kasey Burrell was shot in the head and abdomen; officer Jason Vanderwarf was struck in the hip; Sgt. Nate Hutchinson was hit in both arms, his rib and his side; officer Michael Rounkles was hit in the mouth and forearm. Ogden police officer Jared Francom was shot seven times and died from his injuries.

All but Rounkles were members of the strike force. All testified that Vanderwarf pounded on Stewart's door and identified them, yelling, "Police, warrant!" multiple times. They also all said Vanderwarf waited more than a reasonable amount of time before Francom was told to break in by ramming the door.

The officers testified that they split up into two groups, one heading downstairs and the other upstairs. The officers downstairs said they had just discovered the marijuana growing operation when they heard gunshots above. Grogan testified that he entered a small hallway near the kitchen, yelling "Police, search warrant" when he saw a hand holding a gun appear around the door.

He said the weapon fired almost immediately, striking him in the cheek. He stumbled into a bathroom and returned fire until his gun was empty. Officer Derek Draper, who was behind Grogan, began to fire. When the crossfire stopped for a moment, Draper and Grogan made their way outside.

Some officers went outside to aid Grogan and set up a perimeter. Others went to find the shooter. The officers who remained in the home and the ones who went to their aid all sustained injuries, including Rounkles — who was on patrol nearby and heard the call of an officer down — and Hutchinson, who ultimately tried to drag Burrell and Francom out of the home.

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