- Associated Press - Saturday, March 22, 2014

OGDEN, Utah (AP) - There was no mistreatment by jail staff, prosecutors or a judge leading up to Matthew Stewart’s May 2013 suicide in the Weber County jail, an independent review concluded.

Chief Deputy Cache County Attorney Donald Linton, who reviewed a Utah Department of Public Safety investigation of the Stewart family’s claims of abuse and bias, found that Stewart alone was responsible for his hanging death.

Stewart was accused of killing an officer and wounding five others when a narcotics strike team descended on his Ogden home during a January 2012 raid that netted 13 marijuana plants. He could have faced the death penalty if convicted of aggravated murder.

Inmates and staffers who interacted with Stewart said he was not acting abnormally or suicidal before his death, according to Linton’s report. There were no signs of physical or mental abuse by jailers or other inmates, it adds.

Inmate Jeremy Valdes, who claimed to be good friends with Stewart during their time in jail, told investigators Stewart was treated the same as other inmates.

But the report notes inmates observed Stewart to be visibly upset after a judge ruled that the serving of a search warrant on his home was legal, effectively clearing the way for him to be brought to trial on a charge of aggravated murder and seven counts of attempted murder.

Stewart family spokeswoman Erna Stewart, Matthew Stewart’s sister-in-law, told the Standard-Examiner of Ogden (https://bit.ly/1dlBCTI ) that she was disappointed but not surprised by the report’s conclusions.

The family maintains a belief that he was mistreated and he killed himself because he didn’t think he would receive a fair trial, she said.

“It was disgusting the way they treated Matthew,” Erna Stewart told the Standard-Examiner. “We knew from the start we wouldn’t be getting a fair trial.”

Erna Stewart said her family hired its own investigators to look into the case, but she declined to comment on whether a lawsuit would be filed.

The state investigation was reviewed by Cache County rather than Weber County to avoid a conflict of interest.


Information from: Standard-Examiner, https://www.standard.net

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