PORT ORCHARD, Wash. – A 17-year-old boy will be tried as an adult for the death and sexual assault six-year-old Jenise Wright in Washington State.
The teen has been identified as Gabriel Zebediah Gaeta.
The court immediately passed a motion to prevent the defendant’s face from appearing on camera.
He is being charged with first-degree murder with aggravating circumstances, and rape of a child.
Prosecutors said Gaeta could face life in prison if convicted.
Bail was set at one million dollars. His next court hearing is August 28.
The 6-year-old girl was missing for more than a week. Her body was found in the woods near her home last Thursday.
Court documents say she died from blunt force trauma to the head, with possible strangulation
The Kitsap County Coroner’s Office said Jenise’s body also showed evidence of sexual assault.
DNA evidence led investigators to obtain a warrant on Gaeta’s home, where they said they found blood-stained clothing and a bloody towel in Gabriel’s bedroom.
According to KCPQ, Jenise Wright’s father said Gabriel Gaeta had been a family friend.
“We feed them like we did Gabe,” Jenise’s father, Jim Wright, said of kids who live in their Steele Creek Mobile Home Park near East Bremerton. “They spend the night, like they did Gabe. This is part of our culture.
“I thought I was doing the right thing,” Wright said. “How could I possibly have known that an ill will would happen to us?”