Suspect In Provo Officer Death Makes First Court Appearance

Jan 28, 2019, 7:38 PM | Updated: 9:00 pm

PROVO, Utah – On the first day Provo’s new district courthouse opened for court hearings, a man accused of killing police officer Joseph Shinners made his first court appearance.

Under heavy security in the courtroom, Matt Hoover walked in slowly. It’s the first time he has been seen in public since his arrest on the night of January 5.

Prosecutors have charged Hoover with shooting Officer Shinners with a handgun – one he allegedly told friends he always carried with him, vowing to shoot it out with police instead of go back to prison.

Officials said Shinners returned fire, seriously wounding Hoover, who was hospitalized before being booked into jail.

He was formally charged with aggravated murder on January 22.

Prosecutor Chad Grunander with the Utah County Attorney’s Office said they were moving forward with the case slowly and methodically.

“I think the court wants to be cautious,” he said. “This is a potential death penalty case. We have listed it as a capital felony, which puts on the table the death penalty. The judge wants to make sure the attorneys, if they are appointed as public defenders, are death qualified.”

In a soft voice, Hoover asked the judge for public defenders to represent him. The judge appointed defender Tom Means.

“Very, very sobering for Mr. Hoover. I am sure his head is in a fog today and today’s appearance was probably very overwhelming for him,” said Means.

Prosecutors said there was an enormous amount of body camera footage to review that will be used as evidence in the case. They said they were committed to doing what it takes to seek justice for the fallen officer’s family and the police department.

“We have been close contact with the Provo Police Department and Chief Ferguson. We have been in contact with Officer Shinners’ family, his brothers his mother, and we are keeping them in the loop for obvious reasons,” Grunander added.

Hoover’s next court hearing has been scheduled for March 4.

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Suspect In Provo Officer Death Makes First Court Appearance