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Suspect from Kachina Village manhunt pleads not guilty to two kidnapping cases
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Suspect from Kachina Village manhunt pleads not guilty to two kidnapping cases

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Jason Gonnie

Jason Gonnie was arrested early Saturday morning and booked on several charges including kidnapping, sexual assault and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. 

Jason Gonnie pleaded not guilty to crimes stemming from a 17-hour hostage situation in Kachina Village involving one adult and two child victims that led to a manhunt in January around the Flagstaff area.

The 18-year-old man is now in custody and the Coconino County Attorney’s Office secured grand jury indictments on several of the charges including sexual assault, kidnapping, multiple aggravated assault charges and preventing the victim from using a telephone.

However, this is not the first time Gonnie has been accused of crimes against these victims; court documents show that Gonnie also pleaded not guilty to similar crimes earlier in June 2019. Gonnie was 17 years old at the time, but was being charged as an adult. He had been released from jail after the June offense.

By breaking into the Kachina Village home again in January, Gonnie violated a court order to stay away from the victims, and an order of protection the victim had filed in December.

Due to the sensitive allegations, the Arizona Daily Sun will not be naming the victims in either case. Ken Sheffield, Gonnie’s lawyer, declined to comment due to how recently the charges had been filed.

January manhunt

Court documents show that in the January case, Gonnie allegedly broke into the Kachina Village home through a basement window on the night of Jan. 22.

Jon Paxton, spokesman for the Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, said the victims were not physically restrained, but that Gonnie kept a close eye on them throughout the night. Court documents say Gonnie took the victim’s phone and smartwatch away from her to ensure she couldn’t call for help.

“He knew as long as he kept her with him, those kids wouldn’t go anywhere,” Paxton said. “He restricted her movement to make sure he was always with her.”

Deputies say the victim told Gonnie to leave, but he wouldn’t. The adult victim alleged that Gonnie had assaulted them multiple times, including one case of rape, throughout the night.

Gonnie was armed with a knife throughout the alleged assaults, and court documents show the victim got hold of the knife and stabbed Gonnie in his shoulder to get away. While their first attempt at escaping did not work, they were able to escape on Jan. 23.

At one point, Gonnie left the victims to go upstairs and the victims ran out through the garage door. They went to a neighbor’s house and called 911. Paxton said deputies responded to the area at around 4:30 p.m.

“We confirmed she was safe and set up a perimeter around the house within 15, 20 minutes,” Paxton said, explaining that SWAT was deployed to the area.

The team entered the home with a bomb robot, unsure of what the suspect could be armed with. Finding nothing, the house was then cleared with a canine, and deputies found the home empty.

Then sheriff's deputies leaned on the community for help by sending out fliers, engaging Facebook, local media and the public to start tracking.

“He lived in town. We worked those areas also, trying to determine his residence. Talk to friends, whatever you could imagine,” Paxton said.

They eventually found Gonnie during a traffic stop in Flagstaff at the Fourth Street and Route 66 intersection on Saturday, Jan. 25. He was arrested without incident and pleaded not guilty on Monday.

June case

There have not been many details released about the June crimes, or details included in court documents.

The week before Gonnie pleaded not guilty in the high-profile January case, he had also pleaded not guilty in the Coconino County Superior Court for the incident in June.

The June case involved three counts of aggravated assault, one count of kidnapping, preventing the use of a telephone in an emergency, and he allegedly stole and drove the victim’s vehicle while intoxicated. Before the January manhunt, Judge Howard Grodman in the Flagstaff Municipal Court had overseen the case.

Grodman had let Gonnie out of jail ahead of any judgment in the case stemming from the June incident.

On Jan. 24, prosecutor Paul Rubin filed an expedited motion to revoke Gonnie’s release from jail. In his motion, Rubin cited media accounts of Gonnie’s crimes and the victim's order of protection.

“The State fears the victim will perish at the hands of the Defendant if he continues to remain out of custody,” Rubin said. “Defendant has had the opportunity to show the Court he could comply with a court's order. The conduct documented by the exhibits shows he’s unwilling or unable to do so.”

Less than 20 minutes later, Grodman officially revoked Gonnie’s release conditions.

Now, Gonnie is in jail awaiting a resolution in his case, which has been moved up to Judge Ted Reed's courtroom in the Coconino County Superior Court.

Scott Buffon can be reached at sbuffon@azdailysun.com, on Twitter @scottbuffon or by phone at (928) 556-2250.

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