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While one of the four co-defendants in the September 2017 murder at the L Motel received three years probation as part of a plea agreement, the other three defendants have trial dates set.

Following the state of Arizona’s motion to sever the remaining three in April, Kayson Russell will stand trial for second-degree murder beginning Sept. 18, Jayda Fortune will follow with her trial on Oct. 2 and Mirelle Gorman’s trial will begin April 16, 2019.

After Coconino County Superior Court Division 3 Judge Mark Moran released the four in November, Lawrence Sampson-Kahn agreed to plead guilty to negligent homicide in February with his sentencing following in April. While Fortune and Gorman remain out of custody, Russell’s release was revoked on July 20 following his third notice of noncompliance on July 2.

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Russell failed to report for a drug test on June 29 and reportedly was involved in a domestic dispute on July 1. The fight led to Coconino County Sheriff’s deputies arriving on the scene, where Russell was arrested for possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Judge Moran signed the revocation of Russell’s release and set bail at $250,000. Russell appeared in court Friday for a comprehensive pretrial conference for his new marijuana and drug paraphernalia charges.

The four teenagers were initially arrested and charged with second-degree murder on Sept. 13, 2017 following the death of Jaron James at the L Motel. James’ body was found the morning of Sept. 7 following a fight in one of the motel’s rooms.

According to police reports, Russell, Sampson-Kahn, Gorman and Fortune were drinking with James, who allegedly tried to touch the two girls inappropriately. The four allegedly retaliated by attacking James, who later died as a result of his injuries and extreme intoxication.

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Associate Editor

Cody Bashore is the Associate Editor of the Arizona Daily Sun. In addition, he occasionally covers high school sports, city government, courts and businesses while also filling in as a photographer.

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