Arraignments in L Motel Murder

Mirelle Gorman, 16, looks back to the public gallery in Coconino County Superior Court Monday morning.

Jake Bacon, Arizona Daily Sun

The four teens accused of murder at a Flagstaff motel on September 7 have pleaded not guilty.

Lawrence Sampson-Kahn, 18, Mirelle Gorman 16, Kayson Russell, 19, and Jayda Fortune, 17, are charged with second-degree murder after allegedly beating to death an intoxicated Jaron James, 23, during a party at the L Motel on South Milton Road.

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L Motel Murder Arraignments

Lawrence Sampson-Kahn, 18, left, and Kayson Russell, 19, seated, entered not guilty pleas Monday morning in Coconino County Superior Court on charges stemming from the murder of 23-year-old Jaron James at the L Motel.

Three of the accused, Sampson-Kahn, Gorman and Russell appeared before Coconino County Superior Court Division 2 Judge Dan Slayton Monday to announce their not guilty pleas during their arraignment.

Fortune also pleaded not guilty during her arraignment on Wednesday.

The four teens are each being held at Coconino County Detention Facility on $250,000 cash or secured bonds.

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Kayson Russell

Kayson Russell

Slayton upheld the bond amount during the arraignment and added the condition that none of the suspects are allowed to make any contact with the victim’s family if they make bond.

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L Motel Murder

The L Motel located at 121 South Milton Road was the scene of a recent murder.

A small party in a motel room turned into a deadly affair after an intoxicated James allegedly touched both Gorman and Fortune inappropriately, according to police interviews with all four suspects. According to Gorman, James touched Fortune while they were "play wrestling."

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

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.

James’ relative Deon Yazzie, 21, and Yazzie’s girlfriend Mariah Johnson, 18, told police that James inappropriately touched Fortune, but Johnson described James’ interaction with Gorman as a “pat on the back.”

Yazzie and Johnson are charged with felony endangerment after allegedly leaving James in their motel room overnight after he was beaten.

All four homicide suspects are scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 23 for a case management conference.

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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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