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Suspect In Utah Cop Shooting Under Hospital Guard: Matthew Stewart Not Charged Yet

By PAUL FOY   01/ 6/12 08:28 PM ET   AP

SALT LAKE CITY -- The suspect in the shooting of six Utah police officers remains under guard at an Ogden hospital awaiting likely charges, a jail official said Friday.

One of the police officers died in the shootout that left five others from a narcotics strike force wounded Wednesday. They were serving a search warrant at a house in Ogden, about 35 miles north of Salt Lake City.

Funeral arrangements are pending for Ogden officer Jared Francom, according to a Facebook page set up for the fallen officer.

Weber County jail chief Kevin Burton said two sheriff's deputies have Army veteran Matthew David Stewart under 24-hour guard at a hospital. Police have said he was shot in the raid.

Stewart's case appears to defy the norm in Utah. He has been detained but not yet arrested or charged, according to Burton. Prosecutors have 72 hours to file charges, which would give them until Saturday night. But the deadline doesn't toll over the weekend and Stewart can be held in legal limbo until Monday, his lawyer said.

Weber County Attorney Dee W. Smith did not return phone calls or an email from The Associated Press inquiring about the suspect's status on Friday. No charges were listed on the state's court system database. A day before, Smith said Stewart could face aggravated murder, an offense punishable by the death penalty if Stewart were to be convicted.

"He has not been booked here, but we anticipate that," Burton said. "We would receive him from the hospital if the county attorney intends to charge him."

An Ogden lawyer who spoke to Stewart by phone Friday said he expects to be appointed the suspect's public defender.

"I have not seen a charging document," said the lawyer, Randy Richards, who has experience in capital cases. "I know zero about the case except what I read in the papers."

By late Friday, police and prosecutors still had little to say. Ogden Police Chief Wayne Tarwater said the county attorney's office had taken over the crime scene and was calling the shots. Tarwater wouldn't say what evidence or weapons officers recovered from Stewart's house.

"The charges are still pending," he said.

One of the officers who had been listed in critical condition was improving Friday. Ogden officer Shawn Grogan was in fair condition, McKay-Dee Hospital Center spokesman Chris Dallin said.

Ogden officers Kasey Burrell and Michael Rounkles remained in critical condition, he said.

Weber County sheriff's Sgt. Nate Hutchinson remained in fair condition.

Another officer, Roy Police Officer Jason VanderWarf, was released Thursday.

Also Friday, the Pentagon confirmed that while Stewart served in the U.S. Army, he never saw combat and wasn't in the Gulf War.

Stewart's father has been telling reporters that his son suffered post-traumatic stress disorder from the 1990-1991 Gulf War.

Michael Stewart, who acknowledged he has been estranged from his son, said he still believes his son suffered from anxiety and depression and may have been treating it by growing pot in his house.

Stewart served in the Army from July 1994 to December 1998, spending a year based in Fort Bragg, N.C., and nearly three years stationed in Germany, Army records show.

He held a post as a communications equipment specialist, earning an Army Achievement Medal and a National Defense Service Medal. Both are given for completing active service, although they don't indicate exceptional acts of valor.

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Filed by Michael McLaughlin  |