Lawmaker, who was the prime sponsor of the legislation that eventually became law to help protect DV victims, wants lawmakers to do even more in the immediate future
Ken Vance, editor
Clark County Today
Sen. Lynda Wilson said she is heartbroken at the news of the deaths of Clark County residents Meshay Melendez and daughter Layla Stewart. The veteran lawmaker, who was the prime sponsor of the legislation that eventually became law to help protect domestic violence victims, wants lawmakers to do even more in the immediate future to prevent more deaths.
Like many Clark County residents, the 17th District legislator heard the news of the deaths of the 27-year-old Melendez and 7-year-old Stewart Wednesday after a Clark County Sheriff’s Office report indicated the deceased bodies of the mother and daughter were found down an embankment in some thick brush just off SE Sunset View Road in Washougal.
“I was in a Law and Justice meeting, of all places, hearing a bill concerning domestic-violence victims, when I learned the latest in this sad case last evening,’’ Sen. Wilson told Clark County Today in an email exchange. “I am heartbroken that not only another young mother but also an innocent young girl had their lives ended so senselessly.’’
Earlier in the week, Vancouver Police identified Kirkland C. Warren as a person of interest in the disappearance of Melendez and Stewart. Warren was arrested on March 19 and booked on Tampering with a Witness, Violation of DV Orders (Meshay Melendez was listed as the protected person), Assault IV-DV, Drive-By Shooting, and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm II.
Vancouver Police were initially asked to perform a welfare check on March 18 at the Springfield Meadows apartments (4317 NE 66th Ave.) after family members said they had not heard from Melendez since March 11. A friend told them that Melendez and Stewart had not been home for days and their dog was inside the apartment.
Investigators learned that Melendez, Stewart, and Warren had stayed at the home of an acquaintance on March 11. Warren is described by police as an ex-boyfriend of Melendez. The three were seen leaving in a burgundy Dodge Charger at approximately 6 a.m. March 12. A week later, Meshay’s mother located Meshay’s vehicle in the 7800 block of NE Loowit Loop. Vancouver Police seized the vehicle for a search warrant.
A death too similar
For Sen. Wilson and many other Clark County residents, the Melendez and Stewart deaths recalled painful memories of the death of Tiffany Hill, the Vancouver mother who was killed by her estranged husband Nov. 26, 2019. Hill, a mother of three, was shot and killed and her mother was injured in the parking lot of her children’s school — Sarah J. Anderson Elementary in Vancouver.
“As the prime sponsor of the legislation that eventually became the Tiffany Hill Act, I have questions about the Melendez case,’’ Sen. Wilson told Clark County Today. “But I will also say Clark County has done an exemplary job of putting the Tiffany Hill law into action on behalf of domestic-violence victims, and I am not going to rush to judgment about what prosecutors did or did not do.
“From what I know of the court angle of the Melendez case, I think the bail issue may be deserving of more attention,’’ Sen. Wilson said.
Clark County Today reached Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Tony Golik on Thursday. Golik was limited in what questions he could answer on the matter because the case against Kirkland Warren is still pending.
“I am very limited by the ethical rules prosecutors must adhere to regarding the facts of a pending case,’’ Golik said. “There will be a day when I will be able to answer more of your questions but not while the case is still pending.’’
Golik did confirm that his office requested Warren’s bail to be set at $100,000 and the judge honored the request by setting bail at that amount. Golik said his office did not request a monitoring device for Warren and the court did not order it. He said he couldn’t answer questions about why his office did not ask for Warren to be held without bail or ordered to wear a monitoring device.
Sen. Wilson vows to continue the fight
The issue of domestic violence suspects to be held without bail in certain circumstances was the subject of another bill Sen. Wilson filed during this year’s legislative session.
“Based on another factor that contributed to Tiffany Hill’s murder, I filed a bill this year (SB 5076) that would allow domestic-violence suspects to be held without bail in certain circumstances, but the chair of the Senate Law and Justice Committee refused to act on my proposal whatsoever,’’ Sen. Wilson told Clark County Today. “I worked four years to win enough support at the Capitol for the law that bears Tiffany Hill’s name, and to be candid, I doubt the bill would have gotten through had it not been for the story of her life and her death and the steadfast community around her.
“Protecting DV victims should not be a partisan issue – we should be able to do more without waiting another four years, or having to name bills after murdered young mothers,’’ Sen. Wilson said.
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Agreed. Tony Golik is a woke Democrat that supports and enacts soft on criminals doctrine. How much more of this will the citizenry take and do nothing
Make crime illegal again. Violent offenders should not be released on bail. Repeat offenders need to stay behind bars. Fully prosecute every criminal for every crime all the time.
Senator Lynda Wilson “filed a bill this year (SB 5076) that would allow domestic-violence suspects to be held without bail in certain circumstances”. I support this law. This man was charged with murder in another state, and had a protective order against him to protect this young mother. If he can come up with bail somehow, he could kill another woman and child.
PS At this point, perhaps only God above knows for sure if this man has killed women, and this child. The crimes he has been charged with in Clark County, WA recently, “Warren was arrested on March 19 and booked on Tampering with a Witness, Violation of DV Orders (Meshay Melendez was listed as the protected person), Assault IV-DV, Drive-By Shooting, and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm” are very concerning.