Stephen J. Lee, Forum Communications Co., Published August 25 2011
Emergency workers testify in Deputy Dewey murder trial
Fairbanks, 34, is charged with first-degree murder of a peace officer in the Feb. 18, 2009, shooting of Dewey, who died in hospice care in August 2010 from complications of treatments for his gunshot injuries. Fairbanks also faces several other lesser charges, including assault on law enforcement officers during an ensuing standoff.
Dewey’s partner, Deputy Chad Peterson, called for an ambulance as soon as he found Dewey down near a house across the street from Fairbanks’ home in Mahnomen.
Richard Crawford and Steve Olson responded in an ambulance from the Mahnomen Health Center a few blocks away.
“He wasn’t moving, I thought he was dead. He wasn’t breathing, I couldn’t see any fog coming out of his mouth,” Crawford said. “I rolled him onto his left side, and then he tried to sit up … He kept saying, ‘Doug,’ … He had this fixed stare.”
(Dewey’s boss was Mahnomen County Sheriff Doug Krier, who has attended several days of the trial.)
A gunshot wound was apparent in Dewey’s head, with an entry wound behind and above his right ear and an exit wound in this right forehead, Crawford said.
He also found an apparent gunshot wound in Dewey’s torso, Crawford said.
It took three men to lift Dewey, who weighed 250 pounds, onto an ambulance cot in the driveway and then to lift the cot into the ambulance. Crawford said he and his partner, Steve Olson, were on the scene only four minutes and had Dewey back to the hospital in seven minutes or less after they got the call.
In the hospital’s emergency room, as they cut Dewey’s clothes off, Olson found a bullet fragment “laying in his navel,” and put it on a shelf and later gave it to an investigator, he testified.
After about 25 minutes of trauma treatment, a Life-Flight helicopter team from MeritCare transported Dewey to Fargo, testified Erica Schmidt, the family nurse practitioner in charge that day in the Mahnomen emergency room.
Defense attorneys for Fairbanks didn’t cross-examine the medical witnesses Wednesday.
But they are expected to have questions for other medical witnesses the prosecution is expected to call later this week, including the St. Cloud, Minn., physician who talked to Dewey’s family about end-of-life decisions shortly before he died in hospice care in the home of his wife’s parents.
Also testifying Wednesday was Karen Hyde, who with her husband and mother-in-law, owns Ideal Pawn in Bemidji. Hyde said she sold the 9-mm SIG-Sauer handgun used in Dewey’s shooting to Jamie Stevens less than a month before the shooting.
Stevens was the girlfriend of Fairbanks, with whom she has a child, and told Hyde she wanted the gun because she was moving into a rough neighborhood. Stevens is listed as a possible witness in the trial.
Earlier Wednesday, in cross-examining state crime scene expert Nat Pearlson, defense attorney Ed Hellekson aimed to show that some of the bullet evidence in Fairbanks home couldn’t in all certainty be linked to Fairbanks on the day of Dewey’s shooting.
In his opening argument, Hellekson told the jury Fairbanks was too intoxicated to form the criminal intent needed to commit first-degree murder.
Rounds fired from inside Fairbanks’ home went out through windows with the blinds down, including one round that went out the kitchen window into the outer wall of his adjacent entryway.
Hellekson elicited testimony from Pearlson to the effect that ammunition and ammunition cases were not tested for fingerprints and that Pearlson did not know when bullet holes and spent bullet fragments found in the home were caused by a firearm, or who fired the gun.
Prescription pill bottles and two empty rum bottles found in the home were not seized as evidence by the crime scene team, Pearlson testified in response to Hellekson’s cross-examination.
Prosecutor Eric Schieferdecker, on re-direct, asked Pearlson if there was any reason to take those into evidence.
“Not that we knew at the time,” Pearlson said.
The bloody knit cap and jacket Dewey was wearing when he was shot did not show evidence of a close-in gunshot, Pearlson said in response to Hellekson’s questions.
Stephen J. Lee writes for the Grand Forks Herald