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Matthew David Stewart Found Dead in Jail Cell

Pool: Leah Hogsten, The Salt Lake Tribune

Family members say they are shattered by the suicide of Matthew David Stewart, the 39-year-old Ogden man accused of shooting and killing a police officer and injuring five others during a January 2012 drug raid. Stewart was found hanging in his jail cell early this morning.

Erna Stewart says when she last spoke to her brother-in-law one week ago he was laughing and hopeful about his upcoming court hearing. But on Wednesday, a judge rejected the defense attorney’s argument that the “knock and announce” style search warrant on Stewart's home was illegally obtained. Erna says the hearing must have been too much for Stewart to bear and he lost hope.

“I know how disappointed the entire family was as a result of the hearing on Wednesday and if he was feeling even a fraction more of what we were feeling he was completely and utterly devastated," Erna says. "You know for the judge to not see clearly what we could see was heartbreaking and disappointing.”

Stewart had pleaded not guilty to a charge of aggravated murder, seven counts of attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; and production of a controlled substance; a second-degree felony.

He was scheduled to go to trial in April of 2014.

Erna says the family will continue the fight to change the procedures regarding home-invasion-style raids.

But Weber County Attorney Dee Smith says agents of the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force could either ignore state law or conduct an investigation. And after trying to contact Stewart on multiple occasions, he said they eventually sought a warrant.

“This is exactly what the constitution and the fourth amendment requires," Smith says. "The officers complied with the law in every respect. They presented that information to the judge and the judge authorized  the officers to go inside that residents and search for the marijuana.”

Ogden City Police Officer Jared Francom died as a result of seven gunshot wounds allegedly inflicted by Stewart on the night of the raid.

Smith says after an independent investigation by the Department of Public safety into Stewart’s suicide, the case will be referred to another county attorney’s office for final review.

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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