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Judge give Thomas Lee Fairbanks mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole

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Judge give Thomas Lee Fairbanks mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

MAHNOMEN, Minn. -- Thomas Lee Fairbanks stood solemnly, looking down or straight ahead, as District Court Judge Jeff Remick handed down the mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole Friday in the murder of Mahnomen County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Dewey.


Fairbanks was found guilty of first-degree murder on Sept.1 in Polk County District Court in Crookston. The jury of five women and seven men from Polk County also found Fairbanks, who turns 35 on Tuesday, guilty of nine other charges, while acquitting him of two charges of first-degree assault on peace officers.

Fairbanks shot Dewey once in the head and twice in the torso about 7:04 a.m. Feb. 18, 2009. The deputy died in hospice care Aug. 9, 2010.

Remick sentenced Fairbanks on each of the other nine charges, including 10 years each on four counts of first-degree assault on peace officers, a charge that carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of 20 years.

The jury found Fairbanks had fired the same handgun with which he murdered Dewey toward certain law enforcement officers during a nine-hour standoff. Remick also sentenced him to three years each on two counts of second-degree assault; five years for being a felon with a firearm; two years for failing to assist Dewey after he shot him and two years for trying to steal Dewey's squad car.

The way Remick structured the lesser sentences, seven of them effectively are concurrent with each other and the life sentence; but two of the 10-year sentences are to be served consecutive to the life sentence, in consecutive order.

In other words, Fairbanks has to serve 20 years after his life sentence is completed.

Remick also gave Fairbanks credit for the 934 days he's served in jail since the incident, a length of time which also satisfied the two shorter sentences.

Wendy Reuer is a staff writer for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Grand Forks Herald staff writer Stephen J. Lee contributed to this report. The Forum, Herald and the Bemidji Pioneer are owned by Forum Communications Co.

Pioneer staff reports