PORT ORCHARD, Wash. (AP) — A judge in Kitsap County on Monday found probable cause to detain a 17-year-old boy under investigation in the death and sexual assault of a 6-year-old Washington girl.
Prosecutors in Kitsap County filed court documents Monday saying they had sufficient evidence to hold Gabriel Gaeta on first-degree murder with aggravating circumstances, felony murder and first-degree rape of a child.
Judge Kevin Hull set bail at $1 million. Hull also granted prosecutors' request for a mental-health evaluation for Gaeta.
Prosecutors said they want that competency evaluation before filing charges against the teen. They are pursuing the case in Kitsap County Superior Court, where Gaeta is expected to be tried as an adult.
The teen arrived in court with a black jacket over his head. He spoke softly as he answered the judge's question. His next court date was set for Aug. 28.
A message left with Gaeta's lawyer Monday afternoon was not immediately returned.
The parents of Jenise Wright sat in the second row in the courtroom.
James Wright, Jenise's father, told The Seattle Times the suspect was a close friend of the family and had visited their home many times.
"It's devastating, and it's going to be hard to forgive," James Wright told the newspaper.
Court documents released Monday lay out grisly details into the death of Jenise, who was last seen when she went to bed Aug. 2. Her body was discovered Thursday in a muddy bog near her home.
The girl was strangled, sexually assaulted and had blunt-force trauma to the head resulting in multiple skull fractures, according to the probable-cause statement signed by a Kitsap County detective. It appeared that her body was moved between a half-hour and three hours after she died.
Jenise's body was found almost entirely submerged in a muddy bog in the woods next to the mobile-home park where she lived. Searchers found a small wood pallet over the body, and also located a nylon duffel bag on top of the pallet.
They earlier discovered Jenise's underwear and shorts about 15 to 20 feet from where her body was found.
Authorities say forensic evidence analyzed by the Washington state crime lab linked the clothing to the teen's DNA. During the investigation, the sheriff's office collected DNA cheek swabs from dozens of nearby residents, including Gaeta.
Detectives interviewed the teen Saturday, during which time he "clearly nodded yes" when they asked whether he was the only one involved, according to court documents.
Authorities then served a search warrant on his home and found evidence, including a blood- and mud-covered shirt and a bloody towel in Gaeta's bedroom.
The teen's residence is two homes away from the access to a wooded trail leading to where the body was found, according to the court document.
A growing memorial at the entrance to the neighborhood includes silver balloons, stuffed animals, lit candles and flowers.
Officials have said there were no signs of forced entry at Jenise's home and no indication she was taken from her room.
Hundreds of people, including officers from 15 law enforcement agencies, searched for the girl and went door to door at the mobile home park on the west side of Puget Sound, across from Seattle. They also pulled surveillance video from nearby businesses and checked in with sex offenders in the county.
Associated Press writer Phuong Le in Seattle contributed to this report.