MEDFORD, Ore. — The Medford Police Department has identified the 17-year-old suspect in an alleged murder on the Bear Creek Greenway last week, along with providing more details about the investigation that led to his arrest.
According to the agency, officers responded just after 1 p.m. on Friday to reports of a possible shooting on the Greenway north of Railroad Park. On arrival, the officers found a man lying dead with an apparent gunshot wound to the head. The victim's body was discovered near a tent, which investigators later found belonged to him.
Investigators canvassed the area, and witnesses reported hearing an argument from the victim's tent just prior to the shooting. Descriptions of the other party were limited, MPD said.
Detectives later executed a search warrant on the tent — finding evidence linking a 17-year-old male to the location, according to MPD. The juvenile, now identified as Levi Murray, was located about 10 p.m. that evening in the parking lot of Ray's Food Place in Phoenix. Police gave a home address for Murray in the 2100-block of Table Rock Road.
"[Murray] was interviewed and admitted to shooting the victim over a rather minor dispute," MPD said.
The agency said that Murray helped detectives recover the gun that was used in the murder, finding it in some brush about 100 yards from the scene. The gun had been reported stolen to Medford Police in October of 2020.
"Detectives are still working on locating next of kin for the deceased. His name will not be released until that notification has been made," MPD concluded.
The Jackson County District Attorney's Office announced on Tuesday morning that Murray could be waived into criminal court instead of being tried as a juvenile.
Before 2019, Oregon law allowed for juveniles ages 15 and above who committed Measure 11 crimes to be tried as adults without going through the juvenile system. The legislature passed a bill in May of that year which changed how youth who commit serious crimes are prosecuted.
"While Senate Bill 1008 took away the state's ability to file Measure 11 crimes directly into criminal court, it created a process for youths ages 15, 16, and 17 to be waived into adult court for certain crimes, including Measure 11 crimes after a hearing in juvenile court," the Jackson County District Attorney's Office said in a statement.
Under the new requirements, prosecutors must file a motion requesting a waiver hearing in order to take the case to adult court. In order to waive a youth to criminal court, the judge must find that the youth was of "sufficient sophistication and maturity to appreciate the nature and quality of the conduct involved" at the time of the offense, the DA's Office said.
"The judge may waive a youth to criminal court if after looking at the following factors, the judge determines by a preponderance of evidence that retaining jurisdiction will not serve the best interests of the youth and of society and therefore, is not justified," the DA's Office continued.
The factors to be considered are:
- The amenability of the youth to treatment and rehabilitation available between juvenile and criminal court
- Protection to the community given the seriousness of the offense and if the youth can be safely rehabilitated under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court
- The aggressive, violent, premeditated or willful manner in which the offense was alleged to have been committed
- The previous history of the youth including prior treatment and out of home placements and the physical, emotional and mental health of the youth
- The youth's prior record of acts that would be crimes if committed by an adult
- The prosecutive merit of the case
- The desirability of disposing all cases in one trial if there were adult co-offenders
The Jackson County District Attorney's Office says that it has filed a waiver hearing request under the new law — the first such request in Jackson County since the law passed — and the juvenile court will be setting a date for the waiver hearing.
This is a developing story and will be updated with more details as they emerge.