The Vancouver man suspected of killing Kayla Chapman in an early-morning robbery Tuesday at Holt’s Quik Chek Market has an extensive criminal history, including burglary, theft and assault charges as a juvenile.
19-year-old D’Anthony Leslie Williams appeared in court Thursday morning at the Cowlitz County Jail where Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning found probable cause to hold him in jail without bail until a hearing on Jan. 31.
Williams was arrested Wednesday night in Camas and booked into Cowlitz County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder, first-degree robbery, possession of a stolen vehicle and possession of methamphetamine. He could face life in prison, but prosecutors declined to say what charges and punishment they will pursue.
It’s unlikely Williams would face the death penalty if he is convicted of killing Chapman. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee suspended capital punishment in Washington in 2014 and the state Supreme Court found the practice unconstitutional in 2018.
Nevertheless, cries for as much punishment as possible surfaced in the community Thursday. Kelso resident Curtis Hart started circulating a petition on Facebook calling on Cowlitz County Prosecutor Ryan Jurvakainen to offer “NO DEALS — NO PLEA BARGAINS” for Williams. It had accrued more than 1,300 signatures by Thursday evening.
Jurvakainen said Thursday that it’s still to early to discuss what kind of sentence his office might seek against Williams, who had not yet been formally charged in Chapman’s death.
“Law enforcement locally, as well as (near Camas), they’ve been working 24/7 for essentially the last 48 hours,” Jurvakainen said. “No doubt given the nature of this case, this investigation’s going to be going on for quite some time. ... There’s a lot of moving parts going on.”
Documents entered into court Thursday morning report that the hooded gunman, carrying a backpack in one hand and a handgun in the other, exited from the front passenger side of a white sedan and entered the store at about 4:10 a.m.
Court documents based on surveillance footage said the man approached Chapman, pointed a gun at her and attempted to fire. He racked the gun and pointed it at her again, then handed her the backpack, which she began filling with cash from the register. The gunman also reached into and grabbed money from the till, police records said.Chapman then put cigarettes from the back wall into the backpack, and the gunman grabbed her cell phone and placed it in the backpack too. He then took the backpack, pointed the gun at Chapman, and fired a single shot at her upper torso, records said. He then fled the store into the sedan.
An autopsy Wednesday ruled her death a homicide and found Chapman died from a gunshot wound to the neck and chest area.
Police reports said that on Jan. 17, Williams stole the vehicle used in the robbery.Before his appearance Wednesday, Williams had been sentenced to a 45-day jail sentence after being convicted in November of third-degree theft and first-degree criminal impersonation.
Before that conviction, Williams had been sentenced in 14 different cases over six years as a juvenile. Charges have included assaulting a law enforcement officer, possessing a controlled substance, third-degree theft, possessing alcohol as a minor, first-degree robbery, obstructing a law enforcement officer, second-degree burglary, escaping from a detention facility, intimidating school staff, disturbing school activity, possession of marijuana, and gross misdemeanor harassment.
In a robbery Williams was arrested for at the age of 14, he forced a male customer into a store cooler by holding a knife to his throat and demanded money from him and a female customer, according to police records.
Williams was 11 years old when arrested for his earliest crime, which led to a conviction of third-degree theft and harassment.
Chapman, 30, was the only employee in the store at the time, Kelso police said, and there were no other customers. Chapman called 911 at 4:12 a.m., and when officers arrived less than two minutes later, they found her inside of the store. Medical personnel declared her dead.
“Given her wounds, it was remarkable that she was able to call 911,” Kelso Police Captain Darr Kirk said during a press conference Tuesday.
Holt’s had re-opened by Thursday.