News & Features

Lake County Man Acquitted of Murder

Jury found Daniel Chance Blixt acted in self defense when he shot Matthew Darnell in February

A Lake County man was found not guilty of murder nearly six months after he shot and killed another man in self-defense.

Daniel Chance Blixt, 30, was acquitted Aug. 21 following a three-day trial in Polson. Blixt was charged with deliberate homicide in the Feb. 28 shooting death of Matthew Darnell. 

According to charging documents, Blixt’s estranged wife and Darnell were in a romantic relationship. On Feb. 28, Blixt’s wife and Darnell had gone to Blixt’s home in Pablo to give him some money to help take care of their children. Knowing the Darnell and Blixt had a tense relationship, the couple parked down the road and Darnell stayed in the car. The ex-wife and Blixt got into an argument outside the home.

Darnell, who was considerably larger than Blixt and had threatened him numerous times before, then stormed out of the car and began running toward the defendant. When Darnell was just a few feet away, Blixt drew a handgun and shot him several times.

“(Blixt) called 911 and immediately told the dispatcher that he had shot him in self-defense,” said defense attorney Amanda Marvin. “He waited until the last possible moment to shoot.”

Marvin, who was co-counsel with Tim Wenz, said the state’s investigation was “negligent” and had a more thorough review of the scene occurred she believes Blixt would have never been charged. 

Prosecutors and the defense presented evidence for two days before starting their closing arguments on day three, Aug. 21. After the closing arguments, the case was handed off to the jury that deliberated for four hours before delivering a verdict of not guilty. 

The Beacon was unable to reach the Lake County Attorney’s Office for comment. 

Marvin said her client was happy with the result, although notes the events of Feb. 28 will likely stay with him forever.

“He feels terrible that this happened,” she said. “But he’s relieved, he’s grateful (that it’s over).”