A 16-year-old boy was charged with first-degree murder on Friday in the killing of a missing 13-year-old Beaverton girl who was found dead in a shallow stream earlier this month.
Daniel Ryan Gore appeared in Washington County Juvenile Court via videoconference and did not file a plea in the May 8 death of Milana Li.
The circumstances of Li’s assassination remain unclear. Investigators have not said whether Gore knew Li or how Li died.
The girl’s parents and grandmother sat at the back of the courtroom next to a Russian interpreter who translated the trial for the family. You moved to Beaverton three years ago from Pavlodar, a city in northeast Kazakhstan near the Russian border.
Li’s mother, Assel Li, stood up to speak, clearing her voice between words and fighting back tears.
“I feel like my family isn’t safe when he’s out and I feel like it’s dangerous for him to be outside, inside the community,” she said. “And I have a little kid, another girl. She’s 5. That’s all.”
Judge Brandon Thompson said Gore would remain in custody until his next court appearance on June 3, citing the likely reason that the teenager committed a violent crime.
Gore appeared on video from the Donald E. Long Juvenile Detention Center in Portland, wearing a green shirt and sitting alone in a brightly lit room.
Gore did not speak during the hearing.
Assistant District Attorney Dustin Staten told the judge the state requested that Gore be tried in adult court. The judge confirmed that he had received that request, along with a request from the state for an order sealing the probable cause affidavit.
According to Staten, Gore had a criminal history dating back to the fall of 2020, when he and another youth attempted to set a movie theater on fire. On two other occasions, Gore and a co-defendant went to a movie theater to vandalize and steal it, Staten said in court.
Gore is charged with second-degree arson, criminal mischief, and second-degree theft in those counts.
Gore violated his parole in February after stealing a men’s athletic coat and jacket, Staten said.
The Washington County District Attorney’s Office this month recommended that Gore be held in a pre-trial detention center and said he twice escaped from Harkins House, a temporary housing in Hillsboro for minors with pending criminal cases.
The Washington County Juvenile Department recommended instead that Gore be left to his family. Washington County District Judge Michele Rini agreed, and Gore was sent to live with his father and stepmother in Salem, according to Staten.
He ran away two weeks later, Staten said.
Gore’s father emailed a youth counselor on April 4 that his son was likely staying in the Progress Ridge area of Beaverton, Staten said. Neither the Beaverton Police Department nor the Washington County Attorney’s Office were notified by the Juvenile Division, he said.
A little over a month later, Milana Li’s body was found in a small stream near the Westside Regional Trail to Barrows Park.
The sixth grader was last seen at her family’s home near Southwest Murray Boulevard and Scholls Ferry Road on May 8, when she left for a walk around 4pm. Li’s family became concerned when she couldn’t make it back to the apartment by her 8 p.m. curfew.
Li was reported missing at 1 p.m. the next day, Beaverton Police said. About 24 hours later, officers were called to the Westside Regional Trail near the intersection of Southwest Barrows Road and Horizon Boulevard because of “suspicious circumstances.” Barrows Park is less than a mile from the girl’s home and school.
An autopsy found Li had died in a homicide, Beaverton Police said, but they have not released further details of the murder.
Washington County Juvenile Division officials did not immediately respond to inquiries from The Oregonian/OregonLive.
Juveniles charged with Measure 11 crimes will no longer be automatically tried in juvenile court, under a 2019 law aimed at keeping young defendants in juvenile court, where sentences are shorter and emphasis is on rehabilitation adults.
But prosecutors under the law can request a hearing where they can request that a juvenile be brought before adult court — and Washington County prosecutors did in Gore’s case.
During these procedures, known as waiver hearings, a judge must determine whether the juvenile was “sufficiently educated and mature” to assess the crime and whether it is in his best interest to keep the juvenile in juvenile court.
The court may consider “the aggressive, violent, premeditated, or premeditated nature” of the crime, among other factors.
According to state courts, 819 juveniles have been charged with Measure 11 crimes since the law went into effect.
Prosecutors have attempted to bring 50 of those cases before an adult court. So far, the data shows that judges have approved these transfers in four cases. The cases are in Jackson, Marion, Washington and Clackamas counties, according to the state.
If Gore is found guilty and he remains in juvenile court, he will be released from the custody of the Oregon Youth Authority no later than age 25.
A first-degree murder conviction in an adult court carries a minimum sentence of 30 years in prison, but juveniles who waive an adult court and are convicted can apply for parole after 15 years.
Under the new law, they are also entitled to a so-called second hearing halfway through their sentence. Your release may be considered during this process.
A GoFundMe for the Li family had raised more than $38,000 as of Friday afternoon.
— Catalina Gaitan; @catalinagaitan_ and Noelle Crombie; @noellecrombie