Death Penalty Sought in Murder of Provo UT Officer Joseph Shinners
By Ken K. Gourdin
Utah resident Matt Frank Hoover, 40, has a lengthy criminal record, has spent several years in prison, and was wanted on several outstanding warrants. Hoover had vowed to go out shooting rather than return to prison if he were confronted by law enforcement. Whatever else one may think of Mr. Hoover (and, frankly, as the son and brother of cops, respectively, I don’t think much of him), he proved to be a man of his word.
When officers from several Utah agencies (chiefly from the neighboring cities of Orem and Provo) attempted to take Mr. Hoover into custody on those outstanding warrants after confronting him in the parking lot of an Orem Bed, Bath, and Beyond store, Mr. Hoover shot and killed Provo Police Officer Joseph Shinners.
According to Salt Lake City’s Deseret News, the Utah County Attorney’s Office, which is prosecuting Mr. Hoover, has determined to seek the death penalty. For the story, see the following address (this and any other links last accessed January 23, 2019): https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900049522/man-with-lengthy-criminal-record-accused-of-killing-provo-officer.html. I commented on the News’ coverage as follows:
As the son of a career law enforcement officer who spent 43 years on the job, I’m fortunate that I don’t know what it’s like to lose a loved one in the line of duty. I do know, however, what it’s like to pray for his safe return every time he left for work. I routinely pray for law enforcement, for soldiers, and for those in similar occupations. My heart goes out to Officer Shinners’ family and friends.
If one wishes to argue that the death penalty should be “safe, legal, and rare,” I would agree with that. The murder of a law enforcement officer is an affront to society and to the justice system as a whole. To allow one who commits it—particularly when he announced, repeatedly, his intent to do so beforehand—to escape such a just punishment makes society both less safe and less just.
If Mr. Hoover really wishes to die rather than spend an inordinate amount of time incarcerated, the state should grant that wish: he should put taxpayers’ money where his mouth is, plead guilty, forego appeals, and seek as expedited a resolution to his case as is possible under the law.