NewsCrime Watch


Justice Delayed? Inside look at Billings violent crime investigations

Justice Delayed? Inside look at Billings case investigations
Posted at 1:12 PM, Sep 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-09 10:30:40-04

BILLINGS — The Billings area has several unsolved homicides right now, despite what appears to be cut-and-dried evidence in the cases, including video of one incident and multiple witnesses present at another crime.

It's been three weeks since one of the most recent fatal encounters in Billings that police say began as a road-rage incident. The fatal shooting Michael Duran on Fourth Avenue North was caught on Q2 security cameras from across the street, but no one has been arrested or charged with a crime.

“We needed to have that time stamp removed, and we had a technological issue with how that had to be removed,” said Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito Wednesday.

It’s ultimately up to Twito's office to decide what charges should be filed, if any. And Twito said investigators have to rule out the possibility the shooter fired in self-defense before they can pursue murder charges.

But the question remains: Why was the suspected shooter not immediately arrested?

“[The suspect] stayed on scene, he waited for officers, was cooperative in the process. That all comes into play when we’re making that decision, is an arrest going to be made on the spot or not,” said Lt. Matt Lennick with the Billings Police Department Thursday.

But that is not the only unsolved shooting looming in the Billings area.

Just last month, a man was shot in front of several people on the Midway at MontanaFair at MetraPark. Yellowstone County Sheriff Mike Linder said Thursday that they have wrapped up their investigation and have sent the case to the county attorney's office for review.

And last January, 15-year-old Khoen Parker was shot and killed in the Billings Heights in front of multiple witnesses. No one has been arrested or charged in that case.

Lennick said the multiple witnesses have provided varying accounts of what happened, which has complicated the investigation.

“They ran into a lot of barriers with the group of individuals that were involved and just a lack of general cooperation,” Lennick said.

But Twito said not to give up hope on the case or any other.

“We are working diligently to get to making a decision on that case,” Twito said.

Law enforcement and the county attorney’s office both say they’re constantly working on these cases, even if at times it appears they may not be.

“This isn’t a television show. This isn’t, gets all wrapped up in, you know, an hour,” said Twito.

Both departments are also currently facing staffing challenges, particularly the police department. But even with a full staff, it's not unusual for cases to take months and even years to investigate, especially homicides.

“You know you’ve got to give us the time to do it correctly with the resources we have,” said Lennick.