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News / Clark County News

Kirkland Warren, already facing murder charges, pleads not guilty to rape of a child

Vancouver man is accused of shooting Vancouver mother and daughter Meshay Melendez and Layla Stewart

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: November 7, 2023, 10:36am

The man accused of killing Vancouver mother and daughter, Meshay Melendez and Layla Stewart, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge of first-degree rape of a child involving the 7-year-old.

Kirkland C. Warren, 28, of Vancouver, has already pleaded not guilty in Clark County Superior Court to two counts of aggravated first-degree murder and one count of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. He also pleaded not guilty to a slew of domestic violence charges in another case with Melendez, 27, as the listed victim.

He appeared Oct. 20 on the new charge after court records state DNA tests from Layla returned as a match to Warren.

He is being held without bail, and his trial is scheduled for Jan. 8.

The mother and daughter 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 prior domestic violence case, according to investigators. Melendez’s mother reported them missing March 18 after she couldn’t reach them for their regular video chat session. Authorities found their bodies March 22 in a rural area east of Washougal.

Investigators noted Layla was nude from the waist down when they found them. During the autopsy of her body, Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office staff took DNA swabs of her genitals and sent them to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab for testing, according to a newly filed probable cause affidavit.

The medical examiner’s office determined both Layla and Melendez died from gunshot wounds to the head.