There is a new twist in the case of two murdered brothers who were bail bondsmen shot and killed last week trying to apprehend a man they bailed out.
Newly released court documents, obtained by 17 News, show the man accused of shooting them had plans to leave Bakersfield to try and hide from police after their deaths.
Stephen Stewart appeared in court Tuesday afternoon. He is charged with four felonies, including two counts of murder. Stewart did not enter a plea. He is being held without bail and is scheduled to return to court in a week.
Police say Stewart shot and killed Brandon and Zachary Sims last Thursday night on Kamloops Drive in southwest Bakersfield while they were attempting to arrest another man who failed to appear on a drug charge.
Stewart was arrested Saturday morning after a SWAT standoff outside another home on Talisman Drive in central Bakersfield. Mario Melendez was also in that home. Melendez appeared in court Tuesday on a federal warrant, but did not enter a plea. His bail has been set at $475,000.
New court documents reveal Melendez agreed to hide Stewart from police. Detectives say Melendez is a Sureno gang member who agreed to help Stewart flee Bakersfield.
The Sims family skipped the court hearing, but one of their friends was there to see the man accused of the brothers' murder.
"I was very angry. If I could get to the guy I probably would have done something wrong. I wanted to see what happened, plus they wanted to come but they couldn't really take it right now. It's too close. We'll make sure one way or another justice will be done to this guy," said Shawn Dunn, a Sims family friend.
Zachary and Brandon Sims worked for their father, who owned Bad Dog Bail Bonds in Bakersfield. A funeral for the brothers will be held May 8th at 10 a.m. at Greenlawn Cemetery on Panama Lane.