CRIME

Jury finds Matt Hoover guilty of murder of Provo police officer

Mar 15, 2024, 5:00 PM | Updated: 7:07 pm

PROVO — An eight-person jury found Matt Frank Hoover guilty of aggravated murder on Friday after hearing testimony in a multiweek trial on charges that he shot and killed a Provo police officer.

Joseph Shinners was shot and killed while attempting to arrest Hoover, who had warrants out for his arrest, on Jan. 5, 2019, in front of the Bed Bath & Beyond in Orem. Hoover was also shot during the incident.

The jury — which began deliberating shortly after 1 p.m. — was given the option to find Hoover guilty or not guilty of aggravated murder, as he is charged, or guilty or not guilty of a lesser charge: murder, manslaughter or negligent homicide.

Hoover, 45, was charged with aggravated murder, a first-degree felony. It was initially charged as a capital offense, but changed after prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty. He is also charged with possession of a dangerous weapon as a restricted person, a second-degree felony; and failure to stop at the command of police and drug possession, third-degree felonies.

During closing arguments, defense attorney Mary Corporon told the jury to mark the other counts as guilty. She said the only thing Hoover is contesting is the aggravated murder charge and she argued that even a lesser charge of murder doesn’t apply in this case. She said her client acted recklessly, but should not be guilty of murder.

“No one would ever dispute officer Shinners should be alive today … but the law requires that you look at those instructions about the difference between a knowing and intentional killing of a police officer and a … situation that went horribly awry for a whole variety of reasons,” Corporon said.

She spoke about testimony from multiple officers who mentioned a chaotic scene or did things they typically wouldn’t, like leaving a car in gear and remembering things incorrectly. She said the incident was likewise chaotic and stressful for Hoover as well.

She said everything relevant happened in a very tight place, in the cab of the truck — which at one point had five people at least partially inside.

Corporon said Hoover was trying to shoot himself after he realized he was caught. She said the killing of the police officer was a “tragic outcome” of the poor decisions of a suicidal man.

Deputy Utah County attorney Timothy Taylor told jurors that Hoover could be seen moving his hand up in the truck cab before the shot is fired.

“When he has the unobstructed use of his arm, he pulls that gun out, shoots,” Taylor said.

The prosecutor said there is no doubt that Shinners was shot by another person, and Hoover is the only person who had a gun in his hand. He also said there is no doubt the bullet that killed Shinners came from Hoover’s purple Ruger handgun, which he encouraged the jury to handle and see that the trigger on the gun requires “a deliberate pull.”

The attorney also said there is no doubt Hoover acted intentionally and knowingly — at least one of which is required for a conviction of aggravated murder.

Taylor talked about things Hoover had shared on Facebook earlier that day demonstrating his mindset — his dislike of police and a desire for violence. He said there is no evidence pointing to the defense’s claim that the officer’s death was an attempted suicide gone wrong.

“This case is not about suicide, this case is about homicide,” he said.

Deputy Utah County attorney Chad Grunander cited the same social media posts and said there is a “mountain of motive” in the case, which is not required to convict someone of murder but can be helpful for a jury.

After the verdict, Jordan Long, a friend of Shinners, said he was happy with the outcome.

“A little over 1,000 days since that night we were working together … couldn’t be happier for the verdict, for Kaylynn for the boys, couldn’t be happier,” Long said.

Kaylynn Shinners wished not to speak to KSL in person but sent a statement on the verdict.

This verdict does not bring justice for me because you can never bring my husband back. I will miss him forever and feel the impact of his loss forever. My boys, and my entire family will feel the impact of his loss forever. This verdict does show our society that there are consequences to bad choices, and that it is unacceptable to kill our police officers who, like Joe, are putting their lives on the line daily dealing with the worst of society

Hoover is scheduled to be sentenced on June 4.
Contributing: Garna Mejia, KSL TV

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Jury finds Matt Hoover guilty of murder of Provo police officer