Lawyers feud in the case of accused Ogden cop-killer

Posted at 4:47 PM, Feb 29, 2012
and last updated 2012-03-01 08:41:03-05

OGDEN -- In a rare showing of public criticism, the Weber County Attorney blasted one of the attorneys for accused cop-killer Matthew David Stewart, claiming the lawyer was "playing games" with the court.

"There's a lot of misinformation and misrepresentations that have been made," Weber County Attorney Dee Smith said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Tension filled the room as the attorney in question, Randy Richards, walked into the room midway through Smith's remarks. He sat down and took notes alongside reporters.

Smith was rebutting claims that his office has refused to share information with defense attorneys. Stewart is charged with killing Weber-Morgan Narcotics Strike Force Agent Jared Francom and wounding five other officers on Jan. 4 as they attempted to serve a drug-related search warrant. He faces the death penalty, if convicted.

The fight is over evidence in the death penalty case against Stewart. In legal filings, Richards has complained that he is not getting discovery in the case to which he is entitled. A recent filing has also implied that police and prosecutors might destroy evidence in the high-profile case.

"When it reaches the point that the public is unable to have confidence in the judicial system, as far as I'm concerned, that's where we've crossed the line," Smith told reporters.

Prosecutors contend that Richards isn't actually Stewart's defense attorney. He signed on shortly after Stewart's arrest, but Stewart now claims he cannot afford an attorney. The court has appointed two public defenders, but Richards is not leaving the case. Richards told FOX 13 he was Stewart's "attorney of choice," but he refused to say if he was staying on the case for free or if someone would pay his bills.

Smith said the Weber County Attorney's Office has shared information with Stewart's taxpayer-funded attorneys. Some of that information has found its way to Richards, the defense lawyer conceded.

Richards bolted from the room after Smith ended his remarks, declining to say much to reporters.

"I don't play games in court," he said. "I file motions. I don't file frivolous motions. I file motions that are accurate. That's all I'm going to say."

The pending motions filed by Stewart's defense team will be heard by a judge in Ogden's 2nd District Court, although no date has yet been set.

Weber County prosecutors recently filed to seize Stewart's Jackson Ave. home for forfeiture, claiming they found 16 marijuana plants inside the home. Smith said an underlying reason for the action is to preserve evidence for both prosecution and defense as the case moves forward.

A series of investigations remain into the circumstances surrounding the shooting of the six police officers. The Weber County Attorney confirmed that his office has concluded its own investigation into whether the police acted appropriately.

"I can say that there are no legal concerns. Beyond that I'm not going to get into the facts of the case," Smith said.