Kent trail murder: Man charged with killing girlfriend after luring her into woods

SEATTLE — A 19-year-old Federal Way man was charged with first-degree murder Friday for allegedly shooting a 17-year-old girl he had been dating in the head along a Kent trail and stealing her purse, car and cellphone.

Giovanni Herrin was ordered held in the King County Jail in lieu of $1 million bail.

He is accused of fatally shooting Karyme Barreto-Sabalza, 17, once in the side of the head in the Salt Air Vista Park in Kent on June 16.

“The defendant and the victim had only recently begun dating earlier this year,” prosecutors said in court documents. “After spending the day at the victim’s place of employment, the defendant lured the 17-year-old victim into the woods and shot her in the head. The defendant then fled the scene with her car, purse and cellphone. Soon after shooting the victim, the defendant was seen at an ATM where the victim banked.

“A few weeks prior to killing the victim, the victim sent messages to her friends indicating that she was fearful of the defendant and that she was fearful for her life. The victim indicated that the defendant had ‘frauded her account’ and that the defendant told her she ‘better watch out.’ The victim also told her friend that if something ever happened to her, ‘Report it and say it was Gio.'”

Barreto-Sabalza, a senior at Mount Rainier High School in Des Moines, was to have graduated with her classmates on Wednesday evening, Catherine Carbone Rogers, a spokeswoman for Highline Public Schools, told The Seattle Times. 

Prosecutors said Herrin has a lengthy criminal history, including several robbery convictions. And at the time of the shooting, the defendant had just been released from custody the previous week, prosecutors said.

According to court documents, Herrin at first told police that someone named Montae had shot Karyme to get back at him, then later changed his story and said his own brother had killed Karyme “for setting him (the brother) up on a robbery.”