A 20-year-old Utah man has been found guilty of killing one woman and injuring another in a knife attack at a Rock Springs motel in 2016.
Bradley Ross Fairbourn, of Draper, Utah, has been convicted of Murder in the First Degree and Attempted Murder in the First Degree for the death of Naisha Story and attack of Linda Natalia Arce at the Quality Inn in Rock Springs during the early morning hours of June 23, 2016.
Emotions ran high for families of all involved as the verdict was read.
Sweetwater County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel Erramouspe said he was very satisfied with the verdict.
“I think the jury was an attentive jury. They seemed to be paying attention to the evidence, and I’m very happy,” said Erramouspe. “I’m happy for the Story family and for Miss Arce.”
Fairbourn faces penalties of Life Imprisonment and Life Imprisonment without the Possibility of Parole for each charge.
A sentencing date has not yet been set. That hearing will take place following a Presentence Investigation Report which usually takes about 60 days to complete.
Prosecution: A Bloody Trail Leading To Defendant
Throughout the trial, the prosecution painted a picture of a bloody trail leading to Fairbourn as the attacker. The State said the trail began when Fairbourn stopped in Rawlins, WY and rented a room for the night on June 22, 2016. It was during his time in Rawlins that Fairbourn found the online ad for body rubs and reached out to Arce and Story.
The prosecution said Fairbourn then drove from Rawlins to Rock Springs with no money to pay for services with a plan to kill the two women and return to his room in Rawlins as an alibi.
Upon arrival at the Quality Inn, Fairbourn entered the room and told the victims that he needed to get money from his truck, but instead returned with a knife. Fairbourn first stabbed Arce in the chest and eye before turning his attention to Story as she began to scream.
The State said things went wrong for Fairbourn when Arce was able to escape the room.
After repeatedly stabbing Story and inflicting fatal wounds, the State said Fairbourn grabbed Story’s phone and went to the parking lot to dispose of the knife and potentially look for Arce. However, Arce’s boyfriend, Chris Crayton, was already on scene and assaulted Fairbourn—leaving him for arriving officers.
Prosecutors say Fairbourn lied to investigators on multiple occasions, saying he never contacted the women, was never in their room, and he was only walking to McDonald’s to get a drink when he was struck by Crayton’s vehicle and physically attacked.
During trial, video of interviews with Fairbourn showed his story changed multiple times when confronted with information contrary to his series of events.
The prosecution said Fairbourn was identified by the surviving witness, his DNA was found on the blade of the knife, Story’s blood was found on his pants, a cellphone belonging to Story was found in Fairbourn’s pocket, and video surveillance from a nearby building showed Fairbourn walking near the building where the murder weapon was found.
Defense: Tunnel-Vision Investigation
The defense painted an entirely different picture for the jury, however. They said Fairbourn was simply curious when he contacted the women about their services, and that curiosity put him in the wrong place at the wrong time.
While the defense said investigators had reason to suspect Fairbourn, they never attempted to find other suspects or even consider other scenarios.
The defense said Fairbourn checked into the room in Rawlins but was unable to sleep through the night. Instead, he began looking for company online and responded to the escort ad. Despite not having the $300 arranged, Fairbourn went to the room to talk to the women. Fairbourn testified that he met the women and shook their hands but became concerned that he would be robbed and chose not to go through with the arrangement. He told the women that he would get money from his truck, but he never returned to the room.
Fairbourn said he walked to the nearby McDonald’s to get a drink but noticed it was closed and began to walk back to his truck. It was during his walk back that he was assaulted by Crayton.
Fairbourn testified that he never saw anyone else in the area other than Crayton, and he did not hear screams for help or commotion of any kind.
Fairbourn acknowledged that he was not initially truthful with investigators when he said he did not contact the women, know their room number, or enter the room. He also said his initial versions of going to McDonald’s for a drink and having his card declined, then of going to the restaurant door and finding it locked, were untruthful.
Fairbourn said he lied to investigators because he believed he was under suspicion of soliciting prostitution and did not realize the seriousness of the situation.
The defense said many scenarios for the attack were possible, but the investigation focused on Fairbourn from the beginning, and they looked for evidence to confirm their theory.
The defense said the attack could have been drug related, or the attacker may have been another customer.
The defense laid out a possible scenario in which the two women got into an argument after Fairbourn left the room. In that scenario, Story could have attacked Arce with a knife before having the knife turned on her and getting stabbed by Arce. They said Fairbourn’s DNA could have been on the handle of the knife because he shook hands with the women when he met him.
The defense argued that Chris Crayton could have then helped Arce by getting rid of the knife and slipping Story’s phone in Fairbourn’s pocket when Crayton assaulted him.
The defense also argued that the Wyoming State Crime Lab could have cross-contaminated DNA evidence, and the hospital may have transferred Story’s DNA to Fairbourn’s pants as they treated them all for injuries.