The man charged in the March slayings of Vancouver mother and daughter Meshay “Karmen” Melendez and Layla Stewart was back in court Tuesday morning to face additional charges in a prior domestic violence case.
Kirkland C. Warren, 27, entered not-guilty pleas in Clark County Superior Court to two counts of violating a protection order, one count of tampering with a witness and one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, all charged as domestic violence crimes.
The new charges are tied to a drive-by shooting case, in which Warren is accused of shooting at Melendez’s apartment in the Minnehaha area in December.
He had previously pleaded not guilty to drive-by shooting, second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, gross misdemeanor harassment with bodily injury and two counts of fourth-degree assault, all charged as domestic violence crimes, as well as false swearing, for allegedly lying on a gun application.
Timeline in Meshay Melendez, Layla Stewart case
The following information comes from court records filed in Clark County Superior and District Courts and Jefferson County Circuit Court in Arkansas, as well as police news releases. None of the allegations or charges have been proven in a court of law; all cases are pending.
- Nov. 27, 2017: Kirkland C. Warren shoots his passenger, Curtis Urquhart, with a 22-caliber handgun, after Urquhart repeatedly asks for money, and dumps his body in a ditch near Stuttgart, Ark. Warren later admits to shooting Urquhart, but he tells investigators he feared for his life.
- Dec. 12, 2017: Warren is arrested in Arkansas in connection with the November homicide.
- Dec. 13, 2017: Warren posts $250,000 bond in the homicide case and is released.
- Feb. 7, 2018: Criminal charges of first-degree murder and abuse of a corpse are filed in the Arkansas case.
- 2020: Vancouver police investigate Warren for possessing a stolen semi-automatic handgun. Officers contact him, and he surrenders it. The firearm remains in evidence.
- March 31, 2021: Warren lies on an application to buy a 9 mm semi-automatic handgun at SafeFire in Camas. He says he is not under indictment for a felony, when he has the pending murder case in Arkansas. His application is denied.
- Dec. 13, 2022: Warren and Meshay Melendez argue at her Minnehaha area apartment. He subsequently leaves and shoots at Melendez’s balcony window, as she looks outside.
- Dec. 23, 2022: Melendez calls 911 to report Warren assaulted her. She also reports the shooting from 10 days prior.
- Feb. 3, 2023: Law enforcement interviews a friend who was present during the shooting and corroborates Melendez’s account.
- Feb. 17, 2023: Melendez meets with investigators and recants her earlier statement. She says she lied about the shooting and claims she and her friend have mental health and drug issues, to explain away their earlier statements. She wants assurances Warren won’t be arrested. Investigators deem this to be suspicious.
- March 2, 2023: Vancouver police arrest Warren.
- March 3, 2023:Warren makes a first appearance in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of second-degree domestic violence assault, drive-by shooting, making a false statement, harassment and possession of a stolen firearm, between the series of alleged incidents. Clark County prosecutors say a danger assessment found Warren poses an “extreme risk” to Melendez, with a score of 31 on a scale of 1 to 18. They also note the active homicide case in Arkansas. They ask Warren be held on $100,000 bail. Judge Suzan Clark grants the prosecution’s request, citing the nature of the allegations and the open Arkansas case. Clark also orders a domestic violence no-contact order with Melendez. Hours later, Warren violates the domestic violence no-contact order by calling Melendez twice from the Clark County Jail. He suggests she’s responsible for his arrest and needs to get his charges dropped. Melendez says she is trying to get the charges to go away. Warren says he’s not going back to Arkansas. Warren posts bail later that day. But he is cited in Clark County District Court for violating the domestic violence no-contact order with Melendez.
- March 6, 2023: Warren appears in custody in District Court on the citation. Vancouver police Sgt. Deb Libbey, who authored the probable cause affidavit, asks the court to order Warren wear a GPS monitor if released and be subject to higher bail. Judge Kristen Parcher orders $10,000 bail and electronic monitoring, for domestic violence offenders who are released pending trial.
- March 7, 2023: The District Court case is dismissed, and the allegations are later added to Warren’s Superior Court case. He is not fitted with a monitor before the case is dismissed.
- March 8, 2023: Warren is released from the jail.
- March 11, 2023: Melendez, Layla and Warren stay the night at a friend’s apartment in the VanMall neighborhood.
- March 12, 2023: Melendez and Layla are last seen that morning with Warren, leaving in his burgundy Dodge Charger.
- March 17, 2023: A judge in Arkansas revokes Warren’s bond in his 2018 murder case.
- March 18, 2023: Melendez’s mother reports her and Layla missing after she can’t reach them for their regular video chat session, and friends express concern over being unable to contact them for a week. Vancouver police conduct a welfare check on Melendez and Layla at their Minnehaha area apartment. They are not there.
- March 19, 2023: Melendez’s mother finds her daughter’s car, a Chrysler 200, in the 7800 block of Northeast Loowit Loop in the VanMall neighborhood. Vancouver police serve a search warrant for Warren’s vehicle and residence in the Kevanna Park neighborhood, and he is arrested. Vancouver police issue a missing persons bulletin to the public.
- March 20, 2023: Warren appears in Superior Court on new allegations of tampering with a witness, second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and a protection order violation. Clark County prosecutors ask that Warren be held without bail or that his bail increase from $100,000 to $500,000. Judge John Fairgrieve postpones the hearing a day and asks the prosecution for more information about the basis for the new allegations. He does not make a decision on bail. Warren remains in custody. The Arkansas judge’s order to revoke Warren’s bond is filed with Jefferson County, Ark., Circuit Court.
- March 21, 2023: Warren appears in Superior Court on the new allegations. Fairgrieve finds probable cause. Clark County prosecutors ask Fairgrieve to order Warren be held without bail or increase his bail from $100,000 to $1 million and order he wear a GPS ankle device if released. Fairgrieve orders the $1 million bail and electronic monitoring. Vancouver police name Warren a person of interest in Melendez and Layla’s disappearances. Investigators also release descriptions of the involved vehicles.
- March 22, 2023: Warren appears in Superior Court on a warrant for the Arkansas case. He admits he is the person wanted in Arkansas, but he refuses to waive extradition to be turned over to authorities there. Judge Robert Lewis orders Warren be held without bail on the warrant. Two bodies are discovered down an embankment in thick brush off Southeast Wooding Road near Sunset View Road east of Washougal. The Vancouver Police Department tentatively identifies them as Melendez and Layla.
- March 26, 2023: About 300 people gather in Esther Short Park’s Propstra Square to honor Melendez and Layla. The vigil is hosted by the National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation and YWCA Clark County, in conjunction with the family.
- March 31, 2023: The Vancouver Police Department announces Warren is facing two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Melendez and Layla. The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office also announces it had determined both Melendez and Layla died from gunshot wounds to the head.
- April 3, 2023: Warren appears in Superior Court on suspicion of two counts of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Melendez and Layla. Prosecutors announce they intend to charge Warren with aggravated first-degree murder. If convicted, he would be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
- April 12, 2023: Warren's wife, Monet Tyler-Warren, 26, is charged in Multnomah County Circuit Court in Oregon with first-degree aggravated theft, first-degree theft, aggravated identity theft and identity theft. She's accused of stealing money while working at a Portland credit union and transferring it to other accounts, including one in Melendez’s name.
- April 17, 2023: Warren pleads not guilty to aggravated murder charges in the fatal shootings of Melendez and Layla.
- April 19, 2023: More than 100 people attend a private memorial service at Evergreen Memorial Gardens for Melendez and Layla, followed by a procession to their gravesite.
- May 9, 2023: Warren pleads not guilty to two counts of violating a protection order, one count of tampering with a witness and one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. The new charges are tied to his drive-by shooting case. Prosecutors had previously amended the information in that case, but Warren had not yet been arraigned on the added charges.
Warren is also charged with two counts of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. The charges allege he killed Melendez, 27, and 7-year-old Layla between March 12 and March 15. They were last seen the morning of March 12 with Warren, who had been barred by court order from having contact with Melendez in connection with the earlier domestic violence case, according to investigators. Authorities found their bodies March 22 in a rural area east of Washougal.
Both cases are scheduled for trial in June. He remains in custody.
According to a supplemental probable cause affidavit, Warren contacted Melendez less than two hours after he appeared March 3 in Superior Court in the drive-by shooting case. He called her twice from the Clark County Jail, and they spoke for nearly a half-hour. At the end of one of those calls, he told her, “I’ll try to hit you up some way possible. I guess it is what it is, then.”
An officer who monitored the calls noted Warren suggested Melendez was responsible for his arrest and needed to get his charges dropped. Melendez could be heard saying she was trying to get the charges to go away. Warren also suggested she wasn’t working hard enough to contact lawyers, and he made statements that his “life is over,” according to the affidavit.
Warren could also be heard in the jail calls with Melendez and his wife expressing concern over the possibility his bond would be revoked in Arkansas, where he has a pending case for a 2017 homicide. He told Melendez he was not going back to Arkansas, the affidavit states.
Warren was cited that same day in Clark County District Court for violating the domestic violence protection order, and he appeared on the citation March 6, court records show.
However, the District Court case was dismissed the next day so the charges could be added to the Superior Court case. Warren posted bail and was released March 8, according to court records.
A witness later reported Melendez and her daughter were at her apartment with Warren the night of March 11. That information didn’t come to light until after the pair were reported missing March 18, however, the affidavit states.
The next day, detectives searched Warren’s apartment, in connection with the missing persons case, and seized a 9 mm Draco Pistol Grip rifle, among other items, the affidavit says.