Hearing on the assassination of a Provo officer finally stopped 3 years later
On January 6, 2019, flowers will be placed on the car of the murdered Provo police officer Joseph Shinners in Provo. A preliminary hearing of Matt Frank Hoover, who is charged with murder in the death of Shinners, is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday next week. (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)
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PROVO – A full three years after a Provo police officer was shot dead, a testimony will finally be heard next week against a man accused of murdering the police officer.
A delayed preliminary hearing with Matt Frank Hoover is scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, the anniversary of Officer Joseph Shinner’s death on January 5, 2019.
Hoover, 43, has been in custody since he was charged. At the hearing, a judge will determine if there is enough evidence to bring Hoover to justice for murder, a capital crime, by a jury of his colleagues.
Shinners was a three year veteran with the Provo Police Department, leaving behind a wife and one year old son.
Police tried to arrest Hoover for parole violations when Hoover allegedly backed his truck into a police car. Shinners and another police officer were trying to get Hoover out of the truck when Shinners was shot in the chest with a stolen pistol.
The officers returned fire and beat Hoover, who was in the hospital for several weeks before he was charged.
Investigators say Hoover had no intention of going back to prison. Even his ex-wife said he “talked daily about not going back to jail and getting into a shootout with the police, and going out like the characters in (his) favorite movie, ‘Natural Born Killers'” would. “for uploading documents.
In addition to serious murder, Hoover is charged with assaulting a police officer, theft and possession of weapons by a disabled person, and second degree crimes; and failure to stop on the orders of a police officer and possession or use of a controlled substance, both of which are third-degree crimes.
The preliminary hearing for Hoover has been postponed over the past three years for a variety of reasons, including a competency review that eventually led to an agreement that the suspect was responsible for the trial.
Several delays were also linked to the ongoing pandemic. Hoover’s lawyers also said their client’s health made it more difficult to communicate with him.
The last postponed preliminary hearing was postponed because attorneys told the court they had made an offer that Hoover was considering. However, Hoover later claimed that he was harassed by his lawyers and that he had not agreed to a plea deal.
Hoover’s lawyers did not want to comment on Friday.
The Utah County Attorney’s Office said they are working to get the case through the process and plan to summon multiple witnesses.
Although murder is a capital crime, prosecutors are unlikely to move Hoover to death. When the charges first came up, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt refused to say whether he would apply for the death penalty, noting that his office would have until 60 days after the indictment against Hoover to make that decision . The indictment comes only after a preliminary hearing.
In September Leavitt and three other district attorneys called for the abolition of the death penalty and called on the governor and legislature of Utah to repeal the state’s death penalty law. Days earlier, Leavitt announced that he had decided not to seek the death penalty again in any further trial.
“Since Gary Gilmore we have learned that innocent people were executed and that the death penalty was inconsistent and discriminatory,” Leavitt said. “We have also learned that the death penalty does not promote community security. It is not an effective deterrent. It simply shows our societal preference for retaliation against public safety. “
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