The man accused of shooting Mahnomen County Deputy Christopher Dewey faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole if convicted of the first-degree murder charge handed down in a grand jury indictment.
Thomas Lee Fairbanks, 34, of Mahnomen, Minn., was indicted by the grand jury late Thursday, according to the Minnesota Attorney General's Office.
Fairbanks is accused of shooting Dewey in the head and belly on Feb. 18, 2009, as Dewey was investigating a report of drunken driving in Mahnomen.
Fairbanks was charged Aug. 11 with second-degree murder, a charge filed two days after Dewey died following a long struggle to recover from the shooting.
In addition to the more serious murder charge, the grand jury indicted Fairbanks on six counts of first-degree assault, three counts of second-degree assault, felon in possession of a firearm, failure to render aid and attempted theft of a motor vehicle.
"The murder of an officer is an offense against every citizen of this state, and this indictment reflects that," Attorney General Lori Swanson stated in an e-mail about the indictment.
Fairbanks is scheduled to make his first appearance on the indictment Nov. 29 at the Polk County Courthouse in Crookston, where he remains jailed.
His defense attorney, Joe Parise, said he knew when the amended complaint charging second-degree murder was filed that it was likely the prosecution would seek a first-degree murder charge through a grand jury.
"Obviously, the consequences are more severe, but there's really not a great deal of difference in what the posture of the case is going to be," he said Friday.
Parise said he was in the process of requesting a transcript of the grand jury proceedings, which are secret. He's also waiting for Dewey's autopsy results.
"We're not back to square one, but ... there's a lot more disclosure that needs to take place because of all the situation with Deputy Dewey's medical condition leading up to the time of his death," he said. "There's a lot of work to do here before we can talk about a trial date."