Fairbanks jury selection well behind initial schedule
CROOKSTON - When the murder trial of Thomas Fairbanks opened Aug. 1 with pre-trial discussions between both sides, Minnesota District Judge Jeff Remick said he figured a jury to be selected and opening arguments made Aug. 10.
But jury selection has been much slower than he expected.
A single juror was chosen Wednesday after interviews by the judge and attorneys from both sides, bringing the total selected to nine, toward the goal of 15, including alternates.
Fairbanks is charged with shooting Mahnomen County Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Dewey Feb. 18, 2009. Dewey died Aug. 9, 2010, from complications related to his treatment for the injuries.
The first-degree murder of a peace officer carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Fairbanks faces a dozen or more lesser charges related to the standoff following Dewey being shot.
In cautioning a panel of eight prospective jurors Wednesday not to discuss or research the case overnight, Remick said in such a case, the jury selection "process is inexact and unscientific" and takes long instruction and interviews of each possible juror.
Once a jury is seated, the trial likely will take up to three weeks before the jury begins deliberations, Remick says.