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Man accused in Deputy Dewey shooting now faces murder charge

Prosecutors have filed a murder charge against the man accused of shooting Mahnomen County Sheriff's Deputy Chris Dewey.

Thomas Fairbanks now faces second-degree murder instead of attempted murder for the February 2009 shooting in Mahnomen, Minn., when Dewey was responding to a drunken driver call.

In addition, the amended charge does not preclude first-degree murder for intentionally killing an on-duty police officer, according to a statement released today by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson.

"Law enforcement officers perform very dangerous jobs to keep us safe," the statement reads. "The murder of an officer in the line of duty is a crime against every citizen of this State. Deputy Dewey made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting the community, and our hearts go out to his family."

Minnesota law contains a first degree murder charge for intentionally killing an on-duty police officer.

"Under Minnesota law, however, only a grand jury can charge first degree murder," Swanson said in the statement. "Because grand jury proceedings are secret under Minnesota law, the Attorney General's Office can not comment on the potential for any grand jury proceedings."

Dewey's death Monday came nearly 18 months after he was shot once in the head and twice in the stomach.

Fairbanks had set a trial to start on Sept. 20 in Crookston, Minn. Swanson did not say if the new charge would delay the trial.

Daniel Vernier, accused of being an accomplice in the shooting, is serving a two-year stint in prison after he pleaded guilty last year to failing to render assistance to Dewey.


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