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Man accused of shooting deputy fires attorneys

Thomas Lee Fairbanks is led into the Mahnomen County Courtroom Friday morning for his first court appearance in the shooting of Mahnomen County deputy Christopher Dewey Wednesday morning. Fairbanks had 22 charges brought against him, including attempted first degree and attempted second degree murder. (Brian Basham/DL-Online)

After having a public defender appointed to represent him, then hiring his own private attorneys, Thomas Lee Fairbanks has apparently fired his attorneys.

Fairbanks, who is accused of the February shooting of Mahnomen County Deputy Chris Dewey, had received a public defender through the Regional Native Public Defense Corporation, but then chose to hire his own attorneys from Fargo and St. Cloud, according to Mahnomen County Attorney Julie Bruggeman.

"All I know is that the sheriff's department received a phone call from his girlfriend stating that the family and he had fired the attorneys and they wanted to speak to the prosecutor. Generally, we don't speak to the (defendant in a case). We're hoping he gets a new attorney or public defender."

The case has been assigned to a judge, but a scheduling conference has to be set up yet before the omnibus hearing date can be set.

"We're just kind of waiting at this point. We're waiting for a lot of evidence from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension with regards to ballistics. It's more important on his omnibus that it (the date) be set out further," she said.

She doesn't know if Fairbanks will be granted a public defender again, after having opted to hire a private attorney.

"It's kind of on a wait and see basis at this point," she said. "That's probably why some of the scheduling conferences have been delayed -- because we're waiting for a defense attorney."

The omnibus hearing for Daniel Kurt Vernier, who is also accused of involvement in the shooting incident, is scheduled for July 1.

Fairbanks, 33, has been charged with 22 criminal charges in the shooting incident including attempted murder for allegedly shooting Dewey in the head and abdomen Feb. 18.

He remains in jail on $1 million bail.