Teen accused of fatally shooting St. Paul woman to be prosecuted as adult

A teenager accused of fatally shooting a woman who was waiting in traffic last year in St. Paul will face adult murder charges.

Monday, a judge formally certified 16-year-old Melvin Dump Williams as an adult. He’s charged with second-degree murder in the killing of 34-year-old Yuliya Li when he was still 15.

St. Paul police found Li slumped over in the driver’s seat of her SUV, which was locked, still running and in gear but stopped at the intersection of Payne and Cook Avenues at around 6:40 p.m. on Feb. 16, 2022. She was suffering from a gunshot wound to the head and, despite being rushed to a hospital, died a short time later.

Court documents state that Li — who was from Kazakhstan but attended the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas and worked at a major manufacturing company in St. Paul — had been shopping for groceries for a dinner party in the coming days.

After she left the store, she was traveling north on Payne Avenue and stopped to turn left on Cook Avenue. That’s when a muzzle flash was seen on video from the driver’s side of a northbound Ford Taurus that was behind her.

Investigators found that Li’s SUV had a single hole in the rear window, and four spent 9 mm casings were found at the intersection, court documents state.

Those casings were later determined to have been fired by the same gun used in two other incidents in which Williams was a suspect, according to a criminal complaint.

Charging documents state that investigators looked at various security and surveillance videos to track the Taurus to an apartment that was listed as Williams’ address. Other videos also showed his face, which helped investigators recognize him, and his cellphone data also matched the location of the shooting and the route the Taurus took to get to Williams’ apartment, the complaint adds.

Williams faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of killing Li. His next court hearing hasn’t yet been set.

A spokesperson for the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, “Now that the youth has been certified to stand trial as an adult by the judge, we will do everything in our power to ensure that there is appropriate accountability for the alleged actions by the accused. We will seek justice for the victim, [Yuliya Li], her family, and our community.”