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Inquest into road rage shooting asks jurors to weigh self-defense claim

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Posted at 10:16 AM, Oct 03, 2023

BILLINGS — Nearly 14 months after 29-year-old Michael Duran was shot and killed in a road rage argument in downtown Billings, a citizen jury will decide if the shooter could face criminal charges.

Monday was the first day of a coroner's inquest into Duran's death, in which evidence is reviewed and presented to a jury and jurors are asked to decide if a crime was committed.

A coroner's inquest into the death of a civilian by another civilian, with no affiliations to law enforcement, is rare but not unheard of in Montana, and presiding over this hearing is Yellowstone County Deputy Coroner Rich Hoffman.

The case jurors are reviewing occurred on the evening of Aug. 20, 2022 at the intersection of Fourth Avenue North and North 32nd Street, right outside of the YMCA and KTVQ station. Two vehicles were eastbound with Duran in one vehicle and another man, 31-year-old Jacob Troxel, was in a vehicle with a female passenger.

Security footage from two KTVQ security cameras showed the incident play out, but without any audio:

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.

Troxel claims self-defense in the incident, a claim that will be tested by jurors.

Witnesses called by the Yellowstone County Attorney's Office included police officers who responded to the scene as well as other drivers who witnessed different parts of the incident and described hearing and seeing the fatal shots fired.

The inquest is expected continue Tuesday, depending on the schedule of witnesses.