Teen sentenced to 32 years in random shooting of businesswoman driving in St. Paul

A teenager who carried out a drive-by shooting in St. Paul, killing a bystander, received a 32-year prison term Tuesday.

Yuliya (Julia) Li, a 34-year-old businesswoman driving home from shopping for a dinner party, died last year.

Melvin Dump Williams (Courtesy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office)

Melvin Dump Williams, who was 15 at the time and is now 17, pleaded guilty in June to second-degree murder while committing a drive-by shooting. As part of a plea deal, a charge of second-degree intentional murder, not premeditated, was dropped.

Williams agreed to have his case certified to adult court, which is where he was sentenced Tuesday.

According to the criminal complaint, Li was shot shortly before 7 p.m. Feb. 16, 2022, after leaving a supermarket where she bought food and other items for a dinner party she had planned for Feb. 20.

She was behind the wheel of her 2017 Mercedes‐Benz on Payne Avenue. She was waiting for traffic to clear so she could make a left turn onto Cook Avenue when Williams stopped behind her. He was alone and driving a Ford Taurus.

Julia (Yuliya) Li (Courtesy of H.B. Fuller)

Williams apologized in court during his sentencing hearing and his attorney said Li was not the intended target.

Li worked for H.B. Fuller, a Fortune 1000 company headquartered in Vadnais Heights, since 2017. She is survived by her husband, parents and sister.

Investigators determined the casings found at the shooting scene were fired by the same gun used in two incidents in Minneapolis where Williams was identified as a suspect. In one, Williams allegedly exited a Ford sedan and began shooting.

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