Court • Man accused of killing officer says he thought raiding agents were robbers intent on killing him.
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Ogden •Matthew David Stewart, who is accused of killing one police officer and wounding five others, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to aggravated murder and other charges related to a Jan. 4 shootout in Ogden.
Stewart, 38, is charged in 2nd District Court with aggravated murder for Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force Agent Jared Francom's death. He also is charged with seven first-degree felony counts of attempted aggravated murder for allegedly trying to kill other officers, and one second-degree felony count related to alleged marijuana cultivation.
After each of the nine counts were read Wednesday, a straight-faced Stewart answered: "Not guilty, your honor."
A scheduling hearing is set for Feb. 13 before Judge Noel Hyde.
Stewart's defense attorneys requested the hearing several months out so they could get additional information from the medical examiner. Prosecutors objected, but Hyde ruled in favor of the defense. Hyde noted that the time may be appropriate because ballistic reports relating to shell casings belonging to police officers were not completed in time for last week's preliminary hearing.
Hyde decided at the end of the three-day preliminary hearing that there was enough evidence to order Stewart to stand trial on all nine counts.
At that same hearing, members of the strike force testified about how serving a routine knock-and-announce warrant turned into night of gunshots and chaos.
The officers said they continually announced "Police. Search warrant!" before and after entering Stewart's home, which was being investigated for an indoor marijuana grow located in the basement.
They all said they were wearing some form of police identifier, whether it was a jacket with the word "police" written in bold, a bullet-proof vest with "police" printed on it, or a fleece vest with police insignia embroidered on the chest.
Agent Shawn Grogan testified last week that when he stood in the hallway of the home, he saw an arm and a gun appear from a bedroom doorway. The shooter said nothing before he began firing, one of the first shots striking Grogan in the left cheek.
The shots unleashed a gun battle that ended after an injured Stewart, who was hiding in a backyard shed, was taken into custody.
Six bullets struck Francom in the left chest, right abdomen, right upper back into his spine, in the right shoulder, left arm and left thigh. It is still unclear whether Francom was wearing a ballistic vest at the time. Sarah Gilchrist, with Weber County Metro CSI, was tasked with logging Francom's clothing for evidence. She said Francom was not wearing a vest when he arrived at the hospital.
Stewart told a Weber County Attorney's Office investigator the day after the shooting that he thought the men coming into his home were there to rob and kill him, and that he was defending himself. He also told the investigator that he had armed himself with a 9mm Beretta, but didn't fire until he was fired upon first.
However, in that same interview, Stewart allegedly told the investigator that the men "believed what they were doing was right," and allegedly asked what branch of the government they were a part of.
Sixteen marijuana plants were later found in the basement after the shooting, according to law enforcement.