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Deputy Dewey murder trial: Juror excused for medical condition

The jury panel lost another member Thursday in the murder trial of Thomas Fairbanks.

That makes it 14, including two alternates.

Minnesota District Judge Jeff Remick told attorneys from both sides after lunch that a juror, a Crookston man, was battling an infection from a cyst near his ear. He had been taking less medicine than prescribed to avoid the side effect of drowsiness during the trial, but the man's physician was dissatisfied with the progress, Remick said. The man asked to be released from the jury panel, and with agreement from both sides, Remick did so.

On Aug. 17, during the prosecution's opening argument, a Crookston woman on the jury panel fainted and was released from the jury. There now are eight men and six women on the panel.

Fairbanks is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 18, 2009, shooting of Mahnomen County Sheriff's Deputy Christopher Dewey and more than a dozen other lesser charges related to an ensuing standoff in Mahnomen.

Dewey died in hospice care Aug. 9, 2010, as result of complications from the gunshot wound to his head, St. Paul medical examiner Anne Bracey testified Thursday. Bracey performed an autopsy on Dewey's body the day after he died.

Bracey was one of several physicians called by the prosecution to the witness stand Thursday who had treated or examined Dewey after he was shot.

While the prosecution showed autopsy photos, Bracey described the ravages Dewey's body went through in the 18 months after he was shot. On Feb. 18, 2009, the 6-foot, 2-inch Dewey weighed 250 pounds. At his autopsy, his body weighed 123 pounds, Bracey said.

Stephen J. Lee writes for the Grand Forks Herald, a Forum Communications Co. newspaper.