NewsCrime and Courts


Two men plead not guilty for the crash death of a Montana teen

Alexus Pyle
Payton Hunter of Billings, 19 years old, and Justin Bighair of Garryowen, 33 years old
Lexy Pyle crash
Posted at 2:59 PM, Apr 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-27 21:05:17-04

BILLINGS — Two people pleaded not guilty to felony charges on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, in connection with the death of 19-year-old Alexus 'Lexy' Pyle.

The deadly crash happened in Billings on August 3, 2021. Payton Hunter, 20 years old, and Justin Bighair, 33, are both charged with negligent homicide and criminal endangerment.

"This day has been a day we've been waiting for since (the accident) happened," said Melissa Sayler Dunn, Pyle's mother. "Honestly, it's been a relief to have it done."

"It is frustrating because you see it, you know what they did is careless and negligent, and they don't just (charge them), and you can't understand why," Dunn said. "The justice system is for criminals, and it never helps the good guy."

Payton Hunter court
Payton Hunter, 20, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony negligent homicide for the death of 19-year-old Alexus 'Lexy' Pyle on August 3, 2021.

Pyle was a passenger in Hunter's car on the night of the crash. According to court documents, Hunter was driving a black 2007 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck westbound on 1st Avenue North shortly after 9:30 p.m.

A witness said Hunter was speeding and had just run a red light near Berry's Cherries when he struck Bighair's 2019 Toyota Tundra while Bighair was attempting to turn left onto 1st Avenue North from North 12th Street near The Loft bar.

Pyle died at the scene. A GoFundMe was created to help her family.

Hunter and Bighair were taken to Billings Clinic for medical treatment, and both provided blood samples upon request from Billings police officers.

Bighair's blood-alcohol content was reported as .061%, according to court documents. Hunter's BAC level was not reported, but he admitted to police that he had been drinking prior to the crash.

Justin Bighair court
Justin Bighair, 33, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony negligent homicide for the death of 19-year-old Alexus 'Lexy' Pyle on August 3, 2021.

Neither Pyle nor Hunter were wearing a seat belt. Both Bighair and a passenger in Bighair's car were wearing seat belts. The passenger declined medical treatment at the scene.

Lexy memorial pic
Lexy Pyle's family set up a memorial near the site of her death on 1st Avenue North in Billings.

"There's so much crime in Billings nowadays that the prosecutors are bogged down, the police are bogged down," said Nate Sayler, Lexy's uncle. "The crash team here isn't enough. It's on-duty beat cops that are volunteering to do a job on top of their other job when they have time. It's not enough. It needs to be addressed."

They were released on their own recognizance after the not guilty pleas. If convicted, they face a maximum of 30 years in prison.

As part of their release order, Hunter and Bighair will submit to alcohol monitoring. Both are scheduled for a pretrial hearing on June 13.


Alexus Pyle