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Omaha man is charged with first-degree murder in slaying of convicted sex offender

Omaha man is charged with first-degree murder in slaying of convicted sex offender

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Inmates in a medical unit at the Douglas County Jail greeted an Omaha man charged with killing a convicted sex offender with a standing ovation, the man’s attorney said Thursday.

James Fairbanks, who was arrested Tuesday, also has had more than $1,200 placed into his commissary account, attorney Steve Lefler said — apparently from donors who cheer Fairbanks as a hero online.

But Chief Deputy Douglas County Attorney Brenda Beadle said Thursday that Fairbanks shouldn’t have taken the law into his own hands, which is why he was arrested.

“I don’t classify somebody who would kill somebody in cold blood a hero,” she said. “He doesn’t get to be the judge and jury. That’s why we have a system in place.”

In court Thursday afternoon, Fairbanks, 43, was ordered held without bail on charges of first- degree murder and use of a firearm to commit a felony. Authorities say he fatally shot 64-year-old Mattieo Condoluci on May 14 at Condoluci’s home at 4305 Pinkney St. Officials said Fairbanks later wrote an email to local news outlets taking responsibility for the slaying.

The email writer said he was apartment hunting in the neighborhood where Condoluci lived and learned of him while investigating the neighborhood. The author said he works with children and was agonized thinking of the damage that child predators do.

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“(I) couldnt (sic) in good conscience allow him to do it to anyone else while I had the means to stop him,” the email said.

Lefler said he hasn’t asked Fairbanks if he wrote the letter. But Fairbanks, who is on leave from his job at the Omaha Public Schools, wants a jury to hear his rationale, Lefler said.

In arguing to Douglas County Judge Thomas Harmon that Fairbanks deserves a $500,000 bail, Lefler said Condoluci’s daughter Amanda Henry was pleased to hear of her father’s death.

“She is relieved because there has been a potential predator that has been eliminated from our community,” he said. Fairbanks, he said, “is not a threat to the citizens of our community who respect the rights of our children.”

When a reporter asked Lefler to explain that statement outside of court, he said it was “pretty obvious” and declined to say anything further.

Beadle interpreted Lefler’s statement to mean that he acknowledges that his client is a threat to some people.

“We charge people with child abuse on a regular basis, and it doesn’t mean that we want the citizens of our community to go kill all those people,” she said. “Obviously (Fairbanks) is a danger, and he is a threat.”

Henry attended the hearing and plans to continue to support Fairbanks, although she said she’s unable to help him financially. She is a part of a Facebook group called “Free James Fairbanks,” started by the mother of a Florida boy Condoluci was convicted of molesting in 1994. Condoluci was also convicted in 2007 of child sexual assault in Sarpy County.

Henry supports an online petition asking President Donald Trump to pardon Fairbanks, which has more than 12,000 signatures.

She said it’s hard to consider her father a victim.

“He’s hurt so many people,” she said. “It was a matter of time before somebody did it.”

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Alia Conley covers breaking news, crime, crime trends, the Omaha Police Department and initial court hearings. Follow her on Twitter @aliaconleyOWH. Phone: 402-444-1068.

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