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Verdict: Billings man should face homicide charge in road rage shooting, jury says

Duran shooting still
Posted at 12:00 PM, Oct 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-03 19:44:27-04

BILLINGS — Following a brief deliberation, a citizen jury delivered a decision on a case 14 months in the making: A 31-year-old Billings man could face a murder charge in the death of Michael Duran, 29, who was shot and killed on Aug. 20, 2022, after a road rage argument.

The jury's decision came Tuesday afternoon following a full day of witness testimony Monday continued into Tuesday morning.

Jurors were asked to decide if a crime was committed when Jacob Troxel shot and killed Duran on the evening of Aug. 20, after the two men got into a verbal and physical argument on Fourth Avenue North at the intersection of North 32nd Street.

After an hour-long deliberation, the jury returned the verdict that the manner of Duran's death was criminal deliberate homicide.

The incident happened right outside of the KTVQ station and Q2's security cameras caught two different angles of what happened, footage that was played several times during the inquest.

The footage shows Troxel stopped in the middle of the road and Duran stopped behind him. The two men got in a verbal argument then a physical fight, with Troxel throwing the first punch. At one point Troxel gets back into his car, Duran turns to walk away, then abruptly turns back, trying to punch Troxel through his car window.

Troxel grabbed a gun from his backpack in the back seat and shot seven rounds at Duran through the car window, wounding Duran nine times. Duran later died at a Billings hospital from his wounds, specifically a shot through his liver.

Security camera footage was played alongside testimony from nine different witnesses, a mix of civilians who saw parts of the fight and law enforcement, and other pieces of photos, audio and video of the incident.

Troxel chose not to testify in the inquest, as per his constitutional right, but an hour-long interview conducted by Billings police detectives was played for the jury.

A coroner's inquest is unlike a criminal jury trial in several ways, in that a coroner, not a judge, presides over the case, jurors can ask direct questions to witnesses, lawyers serve as objective parties, and the jury's decision is non-binding, but serves as a powerful tool of evidence for prosecutors as they consider filing criminal charges.

As per the coroner's instructions, the jurors were asked to decide if the shooting was an act of deliberate homicide or justifiable homicide and if it met grounds of self-defense or Montana's Stand Your Ground law.

RELATED: Inquest into Billings fatal road rage shooting asks jurors to weigh self-defense claim