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Minnesota high court affirms most convictions in Mahnomen County deputy’s killing

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ST. PAUL -- A man serving life in prison for the murder of a Mahnomen County deputy won’t be going free anytime soon, after the Minnesota Supreme Court largely upheld multiple convictions in the case.

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A jury found Thomas Lee Fairbanks guilty of first-degree murder of a peace officer, failure to render aid to a shooting victim, four counts of first-degree assault, two counts of second-degree assault, being a felon in possession of a firearm and attempted theft of a motor vehicle in the shooting death of Mahnomen County Deputy Christopher Lee Dewey.

On Feb. 18, 2009, after a night of drinking and taking drugs, Fairbanks shot Dewey without provocation after encountering him outside a residence in the city of Mahnomen, severely injuring him with shots to the head and abdomen. He died about 18 months later.

Fairbanks’ appeal challenged some evidence and the change of venue to Polk County.

The Supreme Court overturned only one first-degree assault conviction, ruling that it couldn’t be determined whether Fairbanks had fired shots at a group of officers to the east of the house where he was holed up during a standoff.

Fairbanks is serving life in prison without the possibility of release.

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