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Paul Bixby

Bixby

The criminal case against a Billings man accused of stabbing a downtown coffee shop owner in late 2017 has been closed.

Paul Steven Bixby, 25, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault earlier this month and was sentenced to 180 days in jail, which he’s already served.

Bixby stabbed Larry Heafner, the owner of Coffee Tavern, a 24-hour downtown business, after an altercation outside the shop on Dec. 4, 2017.

Heafner’s injuries were initially thought to be life-threatening, according to charges, but he survived and testified at trial. Heafner was stabbed twice in the torso and once in the tail bone area, nicking his colon and requiring surgery.

Bixby argued self-defense, saying Heafner had punched him multiple times, hard enough for him to fall to the ground, and that he was vulnerable due to a previous head injury and having the use of only one arm.

In January, a jury deadlocked on Bixby’s felony assault charge, saying they could not reach a unanimous decision. Ten jurors believed he was not guilty, while two believed he was. The judge declared a mistrial. 

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Prosecutors dropped the felony case and filed a misdemeanor assault charge in Yellowstone County Justice Court, to which Bixby pleaded guilty.

The felony case was closed Monday. 

Heafner closed the Coffee Tavern a little more than two years after opening. He said he has plans to reopen the business elsewhere but declined to say when or where.

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Justice Reporter

Justice reporter for the Billings Gazette.