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Murder tial starts in Dep. Dewey case

Christopher Dewey

CROOKSTON, Minn. - The Mahnomen man charged with murdering Mahnomen County Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Dewey is scheduled to go on trial today in a Crookston courtroom.

Thomas Lee Fairbanks, 34, was indicted in November on first-degree murder charges, as well as assault charges, being a felon in possession of a firearm and attempted theft of a vehicle.

Investigators say Fairbanks shot Dewey in the head and midsection Feb. 18, 2009, as Dewey responded to a call.

Dewey survived the shooting and underwent intensive care and therapy but died late last year as a result of his injuries. Murder charges were then filed against Fairbanks.

The trial was moved to Crookston on a defense request for a change of venue to give Fairbanks a fairer trial.

Fairbanks' attorney, James Austad, has said he might seek another change of venue because Crookston is too close to Mahnomen County.

The case will be prosecuted by Eric Schieferdecker of the state attorney general's office.

Fairbanks' accomplice, Daniel Vernier, pleaded guilty in 2009 to failing to assist Dewey after he was shot and was sentenced to two years in prison. He is expected to testify against Fairbanks.

The trial is scheduled to last up to four weeks.

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