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Suspected Mahnomen shooter set for May trial

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A trial in Bemidji is scheduled to start May 3 for Thomas Fairbanks, the man accused of shooting Mahnomen County Deputy Christopher Dewey in 2009.

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Defense and prosecuting attorneys agreed the trial needed to be moved out of Mahnomen in order to get an impartial jury, and a judge said on Tuesday in Mahnomen County District Court that he plans to issue an order moving the trial, said Joe Parise, the public defender who is representing Fairbanks.

Parise initially asked for the venue change last fall. Prosecutors argued to have the trial in Bemidji. Parise said Fairbanks asked to have it moved to Brainerd.

Phone messages left for the prosecuting attorneys were not returned.

Three weeks have been set aside for the trial, but Parise said attorneys think it could take as little as two weeks.

Fairbanks faces numerous charges linked to the shooting, attempted murder among them. In court records, he is accused of shooting Dewey in the head and stomach.

A second suspect, Daniel Vernier, admitted last fall to being an accomplice in the shooting and got two years in prison. He'll testify against Fairbanks in exchange for the plea deal.

Dewey spent a year in rehabilitation at a hospital in Colorado in the wake of the Feb. 18, 2009, shooting. He's since returned to Minnesota and is living with his wife and her parents.

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