Weber County drops fight to seize house where police were shot
Court • County says property isn’t worth taking.
Published: September 18, 2012 02:15PM
Updated: July 17, 2014 07:27AM
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Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune Matthew David Stewart, 37, slowly looked around the room as attorneys argued a number of legal issues in the capital murder case in Utah's 2nd District Court in Ogden before Judge Noel Hyde Tuesday, February 7, 2012. Stewart has been charged with aggravated murder for the death of Ogden police Officer Jared Francom, who was a member of the Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force. He also has been charged with eight other felony counts. Weber County Attorney Dee Smith has filed notice that he intends to seek the death penalty.

Weber County officials are no longer seeking ownership of the home where one police officer was killed and five others were injured in January.

In a motion filed last week in 2nd District Court, county attorneys cited financial reasons for dropping the forfeiture action on Matthew David Stewart’s house at 3268 Jackson Ave. in Ogden.

“The state has determined that the current outstanding liens on the property exceed its fair market value,” the motion to dismiss states.

Stewart’s home is facing foreclosure as he remains in the Weber County jail, charged with murdering Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force Agent Jared Francom and wounding other officers during a Jan. 4 shootout. Police and prosecutors allege Stewart was growing marijuana in the home and were serving a search warrant there when the shooting began.

“I’m working with the mortgage company in trying to see what we can do to get the home repaired and get it fixed up and sold, or flip it, or do something,” Stewart’s father, Michael Stewart, said Tuesday. “It’s not doing any good sitting there vacant.”

Weber County records show the 822-square-foot home was valued at about $80,000 this year. And Stewart’s father, who has been denied access to the home since the shooting, said the house suffered heavy damage.

“From what I understand, the police trashed the house, just went through and tore everything up,” he said. “They’re responsible for the damages.”

A preliminary hearing on the charges against Stewart, during which prosecutors will present some of the evidence in the shooting case, is scheduled to begin Oct. 31.

Stewart is charged with capital murder and eight other felonies. Prosecutors have filed notice they will seek the death penalty.

Stewart has told The Tribune he did not hear police officers identify themselves as they served a warrant on his home and thought they were robbers. Prosecutors in court documents have said police repeatedly identified themselves and Stewart continued shooting at officers outside his home despite flashing police lights.

afalk@sltrib.com

Twitter: @aaronfalk