Murder Charges Filed In Utah Officer's Death

Published January 13, 2012 11:45PM (EST)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The suspect in a deadly shootout with Utah police used a semi-automatic pistol to methodically gun down six officers from a narcotics strike force inside his house, according to charges filed Friday that could bring the death penalty.

Matthew David Stewart, a 37-year-old Army veteran suspected of growing marijuana, told an acquaintance last summer that if police ever raided his Ogden house he would "go out in a blaze of glory and shoot to kill," a Weber County investigator wrote in an affidavit for his arrest.

Prosecutors say Stewart shot and killed Jared Francom of the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Task Force during the Jan. 4 raid at Stewart's house in a quiet neighborhood across the street from a Mormon meeting house.

Francom, 30, was shot six times, according to court papers. He was buried Wednesday after a public funeral.

On Friday, prosecutors charged Stewart with capital murder, marijuana cultivation and seven attempted aggravated murder charges. The charges were enhanced by a dangerous weapons count.

Weber County prosecutors also filed notice that they will seek the death penalty if Stewart is convicted.

Stewart's lawyer, Randy Richards, didn't immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press.

Stewart was cornered in a backyard shed and shot by police, but it wasn't clear Friday if he had been released from a hospital or booked into jail. Prosecutors had said they would wait for doctors to clear Stewart for release before arresting him.

Police say Stewart failed to answer a knock on his door and waited for officers to enter his house before opening fire "from a concealed position at close range with a Beretta 9 mm semi-automatic pistol."

Two of the officers from the narcotics strike force remain hospitalized in fair condition. Three others have been released.

By Salon Staff

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