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Jury declares Blixt not guilty of homicide

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A Pablo man has been found not guilty of deliberate homicide after a two-and-a-half-day trial that began on Aug. 19 before Judge James Manley. 

The Lake County jury of eight men and four women deliberated for about four hours before reaching their verdict in the case against Daniel Chance Blixt, 29, who was charged with shooting and killing Matthew Darnell, 30.

According to court records, at 10:09 p.m. on Feb. 28, Lake County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to a 911 report of a man being shot on Division Street in Pablo. Officers Casey Couture and William Mesteth of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Police Department had Blixt in custody. The victim had been shot several times and was “initially conversant” but then lost consciousness and was declared dead at St. Luke Community Healthcare hospital in Ronan.

Blixt’s ex-wife, Natasha, was the victim’s girlfriend. She told investigators that she had traveled to Blixt’s home with plans to pay him for taking care of their children. She said she arrived later than planned and had Darnell park down the street away from Blixt’s house knowing there was animosity between the two. Blixt was already outside waiting and demanded to know who else was in the car. Natasha initially lied about who was with her. 

Blixt approached the car. Darnell got out of the vehicle and proceeded toward Blixt. Blixt drew his weapon as Darnell approached and fired five times. One shot severed Darnell’s femoral artery and caused his death.

Blixt was the one who called 911 to report the shooting. A recording of that 911 call was played in open court. Blixt can be heard on the recording telling the dispatcher that he was the shooter but that he didn’t know the victim. On the witness stand, he later claimed that he did know it was Darnell. He said he shot Darnell because he feared him. 

Blixt’s attorneys Timothy Wenz and Amanda Marvin pointed out the size difference between the two men. Darnell outweighed Blixt by about one hundred pounds.

Manley stated on record that the case was well tried and commended both the state and defense for their conduct.

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