It is the right of the defendant to conduct his own inspection, examination and testing of the crime scene. —Randall Richards, defense attorney
OGDEN — A man accused of killing a police officer and shooting five others is requesting access to his home as part of his efforts to mount a defense.
Attorneys for Matthew David Stewart filed a motion Feb. 21 asking for access to Stewart's Ogden home at 3268 Jackson Ave. Defense attorney Randall Richards said there are a number of items in the house that are important to the man's case.
"In order to sufficiently present his defense, it is important that defendant has access to whatever buildings, materials and possessions the prosecution has and will use to form their case," the motion states. "Access to his property where the incident occurred is essential to the accurate development of the defense's case."
Stewart, 37, is facing charges of aggravated murder, a capital offense, and seven counts of attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony, in connection with the Jan. 4 shootout that left Ogden police officer Jared Francom dead and five other officers injured.
Richards said prosecutors have indicated there were 52 officer witnesses in or around Stewart's home from six to 10 investigating agencies. But he said he has been denied access because police still consider the house a crime scene.
"It has now been six weeks since the shooting occurred and defense counsel desperately needs access to the home in order to prepare a defense, preserve evidence, take pictures and other investigative testing before time and weather or other factors deteriorate evidence," Richards wrote. "It is the right of the defendant to conduct his own inspection, examination and testing of the crime scene."
Stewart is accused of opening fire on officers from the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force after they arrived at his home to serve a search warrant.
After announcing their presence, officers were able to clear the main floor and basement of the home before Stewart emerged and allegedly opened fire. Stewart later said he thought he was being robbed and didn't hear the officers announce who they were.
Investigators had information that Stewart was growing marijuana. Police say they discovered a marijuana grow operation in his basement, which included artificial lighting and a water system.
Stewart is facing an additional count of production of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony.
A new court document outlines a list of information prosecutors have turned over to defense attorneys, including a number of interviews with Stewart, names of police officers and witnesses and Francom's autopsy report. Also listed are results of Internet searches for a Beretta Px4, "The Grow Store" and "Grow your own."
A single line near the end of the list reads: "Firearms transaction record." It is unclear what the firearm was, who purchased it and when.
The list was signed as received by Stewart's court-appointed attorney, William Albright. Richards was retained privately by Stewart's family, who set up a website to solicit donations for Richards' pay. The request for donations has temporarily been halted after the state informed the family it did not have the proper permit to ask for public funds.
Stewart's next court hearing is set for March 19.