L Motel Murder

The L Motel, located at 121 South Milton Road, was the scene of a recent death that police say was a homicide.

Jake Bacon, Arizona Daily Sun

A man who died in a Flagstaff motel room on Sept. 7 was extremely intoxicated and beaten on the face multiple times, according to a newly released police report.

Four teenagers, all of Flagstaff -- Lawrence Sampson-Kahn, 18, Kayson Russell, 19, Mirelle Gorman, 16 and Jayda Fortune, 17 -- are charged with second-degree homicide after a fight during a party in Room 119 at the L Motel on South Milton Road led to the death of Jaron James, 23.

The party escalated into a deadly affair after James inappropriately tried to touch Gorman and Fortune multiple times, according to police interviews with all four suspects.

The incident occurred at 1 a.m., according to the police report.

Fortune and Gorman then began to hit James in the face, with Russel and Sampson-Kahn joining the two women.

Gorman told police that “the guys were ready to (expletive) him up” because Russell was dating Gorman and Fortune and Sampson-Kahn were close.

James was very intoxicated during the incident and reportedly tried to “block his face lazily” while slipping in and out of consciousness, according to Russell’s interview with Flagstaff Police detectives.

When found by police, James’ face was swollen, with a busted lip and a possible broken nose, according to the police report.

After the fight, the four suspects left the motel and resumed their party in Bushmaster Park, according to police reports.

James’s relative Deon Yazzie, 21, and Yazzie's girlfriend Mariah Johnson, 18, stayed behind in the room overnight while they thought James was sleeping. They called 911 the next morning after checking on James and seeing that he was not breathing.

Police reported James deceased at 9:20 a.m. The four suspects arrested were not aware that James had died until they were interviewed by police the next day.

Police detectives indicated that James died from a combination of his injuries and extreme intoxication; however, the coroner's report is not complete.

The room was rented in Johnson’s name, and both Yazzie and Johnson initially told police that James walked into the room drunk and hurt. They later told police that this story was a lie and that they witnessed James being beaten, but did not participate.

Yazzie and Johnson are being charged with felony endangerment.

Conflicting stories

The police report contains notes of detectives’ interviews with each suspect with the exception of Fortune. Each suspect told police that they were minimally involved with the fight that killed James.

However, Russel, Sampson-Kahn and Gorman all said that Fortune was the first to attack Gorman on the bed.

Russell said Fortune “took the first swing, which put him (James) out,” and Gorman was the next to hit James. He went on to say that the “girls beat the (expletive) out of him while he was unconscious.”

Russell initially denied having any involvement in the fight, stating that he was out of the room. But later he said he “kicked him once on the way out because he was touching my girl.” He also said he did not personally see James touch the girls inappropriately.

Police found blood stains on Russell’s pants that he said were from a fight with Gorman after the incident, when she hit him on the head with her cellphone.

Sampson-Kahn initially told police that he was not at the motel and stayed home all night. But when confronted about the other suspects' interviews, Sampson-Kahn said he “hit (James) maybe once, but the girls beat him up and not that bad.”

A red stain was found on Sampson-Kahn’s shoe during his police interview and he told police that the stain was cherry pomegranate. The police report did not confirm or deny Sampson-Kahn’s statement.

Gorman told police that James touched her in the groin area and that she only punched him once in the face but that Fortune and Russel repeatedly hit James after he touched Fortune.

Police reported that Gorman’s knuckles were bruised and a broken fingernail found at the crime scene matched Gorman’s.

Sampson-Kahn did not punch James because he had a broken arm, according to Gorman.

The police report states that Sampson-Kahn did have a hand injury, but not that his arm was broken.

When the four-suspects left the motel room, Gorman said Fortune told her “You are pretty and that is what guys do to girls and that is why we did what we did to him.”

According to the police report, Gorman cried “He touched me, he touched me, but it doesn’t matter that he touched me,” after she learned James was dead.

Johnson said she saw James touch Fortune, but described his interaction with Gorman as “a pat on the back.”

The police report states that Russel, Sampson-Kahn and Fortune met at Coconino High School. The Flagstaff Unified School District said that none of the suspects is enrolled in a district school this year. Attempts to obtain comments from their families have been unsuccessful. All the suspects face arraignment in Coconino Superior Court on the charges Monday.

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Max Lancaster is the crime and courts reporter for the Arizona Daily Sun. He enjoys all things music and just learned how Kombucha is made.

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