A Vancouver man is accused of violating a no-contact order with his girlfriend, among other allegations, in a December drive-by shooting case. Vancouver police say the woman and her 7-year-old daughter are also now missing.
Kirkland C. Warren, 27, appeared Monday in Clark County Superior Court on new allegations of tampering with a witness, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and a protection order violation. His hearing was set over to Tuesday because the judge wanted more information about the basis for the new charges.
Before Judge John Fairgrieve postponed the hearing, Deputy Prosecutor Scott Ikata asked him to consider ordering Warren to be held without bail; alternatively, he asked the judge to increase Warren’s bail from $100,000 to $500,000. Defense attorney Megan Peyton asked Fairgrieve to keep bail as is.
In response, someone could be heard on the virtual hearing saying, “My best friend is missing because of him.”
Fairgrieve did not make any decisions on bail Monday.
Vancouver police would not confirm Monday if Warren is a suspect in the disappearances of 27-year-old Meshay “Karmen” Melendez and her daughter, Layla Stewart. But Sgt. Julie Ballou said investigators believe there is a criminal connection to their disappearances.
On Saturday, a friend reported that Melendez and her daughter were missing. She said she last saw Melendez on March 11 or 12. Warren had come to the friend’s apartment and taken custody of Layla, who had stayed there overnight. The friend said Melendez was unresponsive and partially clothed in Warren’s car, according to a probable cause affidavit.
Melendez’s mother, Nichole Norris, also reported her missing after she couldn’t reach her for their regular video chat session, she told The Columbian on Monday. She said her daughter’s friends have been unable to reach her by phone or contact her at her apartment. Layla also wasn’t in school last week, she said.
“I want everyone to keep a lookout for them and for any video this vehicle is on. There are cameras everywhere,” Norris said. “I just want them to be safe and come home.”
Warren is already charged in Superior Court with drive-by shooting, second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, gross misdemeanor harassment with bodily injury and two counts of fourth-degree assault, all under the domestic violence prong. He is also charged with making a false statement for allegedly lying on a gun application. He’s pleaded not guilty to the charges.
He’s accused of shooting at Melendez’s apartment in the Minnehaha area Dec. 13. At his initial first appearance March 3, he was ordered not to have contact with Melendez. During that hearing, the prosecution said a danger assessment found Warren poses an “extreme risk” to Melendez, with a score of 31 on a scale of 1 to 18.
Prosecutors also noted he has a pending case for a 2017 homicide in Arkansas. Court records show he posted $250,000 bond in that case Dec. 13, 2017, the day after his arrest.
A judge in Arkansas revoked his bond March 17, court records show. Prosecutors there say they are waiting to see what happens in the Clark County case.
At the March 3 hearing, Clark County prosecutors did not request Warren wear a GPS ankle monitor — for domestic violence offenders who are released pending trial — as part of his restrictions for release, and the court did not order electronic monitoring.
Deputy Prosecutor Taylor Knight, who leads the domestic violence unit, said she couldn’t comment on why prosecutors did not request electronic monitoring earlier this month.
Warren posted bail later that day, court records indicate, and he was released March 8.
Also March 3, Warren was cited in Clark County District Court for violating the domestic violence protection order by calling Melendez twice from the Clark County Jail, according to court records. He appeared on the citation March 6.
In that probable cause affidavit, the officer asked the court to order Warren to wear a GPS monitor and be subject to a higher bail, citing the severity of the charges, level of violence involved, his pending Arkansas case and the fact he violated the no-contact order within hours.
A judge in the District Court case ordered Warren to wear a GPS monitor. However, the District Court case was dismissed the next day, March 7, and the charges were added to the Superior Court case, court records show.
Knight said she does not know if he was ever fitted with a monitor before that case was dismissed.
On Sunday, police found Warren’s car in the Kevanna Park neighborhood at an apartment in his wife’s name, according to the affidavit.
When detectives searched the apartment, they found a 9 mm firearm unsecured, along with ammunition and magazines, including a large drum magazine, the affidavit states.
Assistant Metro Editor Jessica Prokop contributed to this report.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the day Warren was released from the Clark County Jail after making first appearance March 3 in Clark County Superior Court. Warren was released March 8. It also incorrectly stated the day an Arkansas judge revoked Warren’s bond in his 2018 murder case. The judge revoked his bond March 17, and the order was filed with the Arkansas court Monday, March 20.