Local News

Tuesday, May 01 2012 05:58 PM

Arraignment postponed for accused shooter in bondsmen deaths

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    By Felix Adamo / The Californian

    Stephen Stewart was arraigned in superior court in connection with the killing of two bail bondsmen.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

The arraignment of the accused shooter in the deaths of two bail bondsmen was postponed Tuesday for one week while the man accused of hiding him from police pleaded not guilty to several felony charges.

Stephen Michael Stewart, 26, has been charged with felonies including two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of brothers Brandon and Zachary Sims and is being held without bail. Mario Melendez, the man accused of harboring Stewart after the shooting, was charged with being an accessory after the fact, possession of a gun by a felon and participating in a criminal street gang.

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The family of Zachary and Brandon Sims has set up an account at Bank of America for donations to help pay funeral expenses. The account number is 1267119417 and donations can be made at all Bank of America locations.

A friend of the Simses said outside court that he attended the arraignment because he wanted to look Stewart in the eye. The friend, Shawn Dunn, said Stewart's arrest has given the family some peace of mind.

The proceedings in Department 11 of Kern County Superior Court took only a couple of minutes. Stewart is scheduled to be arraigned May 8, and the next hearing for Melendez is scheduled for May 14.

Police say Stewart shot and killed Zachary and Brandon Sims while the Simses were taking another man, Zachary Perrick, into custody for skipping bail on a drug possession charge. The shooting happened Thursday at a residence where Perrick was staying in the 7800 block of Kamloops Drive.

Perrick, 24, ran from the scene but later turned himself in, police said. Stewart sped off and took shelter at a residence on Talisman Drive where Melendez, a friend, was staying, police said.

Both Stewart and Melendez were arrested Saturday morning.

Perrick, meanwhile, was also in court Tuesday on the drug possession warrant. A status conference on his case is scheduled for May 15.

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