Matthew Stewart found dead in jail cell

Matthew Stewart found dead in jail cell

OGDEN Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - A sheriff's deputy discovered Matthew Stewart hanging from inside his jail cell.
Matthew David Stewart is the man police say shot siz police officers in Ogden on Jan 4th, 2012. (ABC 4)
Matthew David Stewart is the man police say shot siz police officers in Ogden on Jan 4th, 2012. (ABC 4)
OGDEN Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - A high profile inmate was found dead in his jail cell early Friday morning.

Authorities in Weber County say Matthew David Stewart hanged himself inside his jail cell.

"At 12:58 a.m. an officer who was doing hourly routine check found him where he had used his bed sheet to hang himself," says Weber County Attorney Dee Smith.

Stewart was jailed after being released from the hospital. The sheriff says he was not under a suicide watch but was monitored like any other prisoner.

"He was housed in a safe and secure manner as is possible within a secure facility," says Sheriff Todd Richardson. "Visual checks of inmates are and were made every hour, twenty four hours a day.

Stewart was facing aggravated murder charges for the death of Ogden police officer Jared Francom. He's also accused of wounding five others during a drug raid at his home last year.

Friday morning, Stewart's family was notified about his death.

"At the end of it all, Matthew knew how much we loved him, knew how much we were fighting for him knew how much we all supported him and no matter what no one's going to take that from us," says his sister Rachel Faulkner.

The search warrant used by police was at the heart of Stewart's case. His attorney claimed it was obtained illegally. Wednesday his attorney made that argument. Stewart was also present at the hearing. But in the end, the judge rejected their motion for a hearing to consider having the search warrant thrown out.

"We were disappointed by the outcome on that," says his attorney Randy Richards. "We had a quantum of evidence that showed there were a lot of problems all through this case."

But Richards won't be able to prove that in court. He says Stewart's death caught him by surprise.

"I was shocked and devastated," Richards says. "He was a friend as well as a client. Whether that (setback) contributed, I have no idea. whether he left a note, I don't know."

Weber County Attorney Dee Smith says the search warrant was valid and the judge's decision to reject the claim proves his point.

"The defendant (Stewart) was afforded every constitutional right available to him and he was treated fairly by all involved," says Smith. "These officers were heroic and they followed the law every step of the way."

But at Stewart's home, that wasn't the feeling. Stewart's sister-in-law says police misunderstood who they were after.

"He wasn't dealing, he wasn't violent," says Erin Stewart. "For anybody to think Stewart was the only one who made mistakes that night ... it breaks my heart.

She says the family has no ill will towards the officers or their families but mistakes were made that night.

"We wanted to see it fought fairly," she says. "We haven't lashed out at the family or the officers themselves. We just wanted to see it fought fairly right and the correct way. The way the judicial system should be."

Whether the judge's ruling had a bearing on Stewart's suicide, his family isn't sure. But they do know he meant no harm to anyone.

"He was a sweet guy that night wasn't totally not him," says his sister. "It was brought out of fear out of surprise."

And for now, the family is comforted in knowing they fought for his freedom and now he's free at last.

"I love him with all my heart," says Faulkner. "I will miss him a lot but he's going to be around us. He's going to be around us."
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