A Nebraska man has accepted a plea deal in the shooting death of a sex offender after telling prosecutors that he initially only meant to warn him not to victimize any other children.
James Fairbanks, 44, pleaded no contest Thursday to a second-degree murder charge in connection to the May 2020 murder of 64-year-old Mattieo Condoluci, KMTV reports. Fairbanks claimed to have learned of Condoluci, a registered sex offender, while hunting for apartments in his Omaha neighborhood. He said that later saw he saw Condoluci watching children, according to the outlet.
Fairbanks, a divorcee with two children, allegedly checked the sex offender registry in the neighborhood and learned that Condoluci had been twice convicted of molesting children, first in Florida in 1994 and again in Sarpy County, Nebraska, in 2007, the Omaha World-Herald reports. Fairbanks claimed to have witnessed Condoluci watching children while pretending to wash his truck and was concerned that Condoluci — who, he claimed also had children’s playground equipment in his backyard — would strike again. He said was so worried that it affected his daily life, he told KETV.
"I was literally ill. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't eat," Fairbanks said. "I was so in knots about the whole thing."
On the evening of May 16, 2020, Fairbanks said that he went to Condoluci’s house to warn him not to victimize any children, but ended up shooting Condoluci four times, killing him.
“He did not go over there with the intent to kill Condoluci. He went there only with the intent to warn him,” Fairbanks’ attorney Steve Lefler reportedly said.
Prior to accepting the plea deal, Lefler had abandoned a self-defense stance that claimed that Fairbanks was defending himself after Condoluci charged at him. Prosecutors have rejected the claim that Fairbanks only intended to warn Condoluci though, the World-Herald reports. They claim that part of the evidence is in Fairbanks computer: before killing Condoluci, he’d allegedly researched articles about other people who’d killed sex offenders and had looked up whether death row inmates in his state are allowed a commissary. He’d also researched another registered sex offender in the neighborhood and had drawn out a route to that person’s home before focusing his attention on Condoluci, according to the outlet. Fairbanks’ attorney denied prosecutors claim that the killing was part of a premeditated plot for Fairbanks to murder a sex offender.
Prior to his arrest, Fairbanks sent emails to local outlets detailing his reasons for killing Condoluci, KMTV reports. He found a flurry of support online, including the creation of a Facebook page called “Freedom for James Fairbanks.” Condoluci’s daughter Amanda Henry, another supporter of Fairbanks, told KMTV that she was molested by her father as a child and that she does not have any anger towards his killer.
"I've had to live in fear for 34 years, and it has been the worst pain that I could imagine… and so when I finally got the phone call, yes, I was relieved," she said.
Condoluci’s son acknowledged that he and his sister’s childhood was chaotic but said that his father did not deserve to be killed, according to the World-Herald. He also claimed that the swing set Fairbanks referred to seeing in Condoluci’s backyard was for his grandchild, and that no other children ever used it.
Fairbanks’ sentencing is scheduled to take place in July. He faces 21 years to life in prison.
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