Federal Way man to face murder charge in shooting death of girlfriend

Des Moines woman told friends she feared for her life

An 18-year-old Des Moines woman – allegedly killed by her boyfriend in Kent – told a friend on social media just weeks earlier that she feared for her life because of her relationship with the 19-year-old Federal Way man.

King County prosecutors charged Giovanni D. Herrin on June 22 with first-degree murder for allegedly shooting Karyme Barreto-Sabalza once in the head and leaving her on a trail to die during the evening of June 16 at Salt Air Vista Park, 24615 26th Place S., on the West Hill. Herrin is scheduled to be arraigned at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, July 3, at the Maleng Regional Justice Center (RJC) in Kent. Herrin remains in custody at the county jail at the RJC with bail set at $1 million.

Prosecutors listed robbery as a motive as Herrin reportedly fled the crime scene with Barreto-Sabalza’s car, purse and cellphone, according to court documents. Soon after the shooting, Herrin was seen at an ATM where the victim banked.

Kent Police arrested Herrin June 19 in Des Moines after a police pursuit from a house in South Seattle where detectives had tracked Herrin following the killing of Barreto-Sabalza. She who would have graduated on June 20 from Des Moines’ Mount Rainier High School at the accesso ShoWare Center in Kent, according to a posting on a gofundme.com account set up by a relative to help her family pay for funeral expenses.

“Sadly she won’t be able to walk the stage and South Seattle College will have an empty space – where she would have started Monday 25th, her dream was to become a nurse,” according to the posting. “Our family is devastated of losing a caring, funny, outgoing and honest beloved family member.”

Barreto-Sabalza told friends earlier this year Herrin had “frauded her account” and told her she “better watch out.” She told a friend that if something ever happened to her, “Report it and say it was Gio.”

The two began dating earlier this year. Herrin spent the day of June 16 at an assisted living home in Seattle where Barreto-Sabalza worked. He then lured her into the woods at the Kent park and shot her in the head, according to charging papers.

Herrin has a lengthy criminal history including several robbery convictions. A previous girlfriend’s parents sought a stalking and protection order from Herrin in 2015. The girl’s mother in the petition indicated Herrin had threatened to kill her family, himself or the girlfriend if the girlfriend ever left him.

At the time of the shooting, Herrin had felony charges pending in King County Superior Court for attempting to elude a police vehicle last year in Kent. He had convictions as a juvenile for second-degree robbery in 2015, second-degree theft in 2015, residential burglary in 2014 and third-degree theft in 2014.

Prosecutors also charged Herrin on June 22 with unlawful possession of a firearm because of his previous felony conviction for robbery.

During an interview with detectives, Herrin initially blamed another man for killing Barreto-Sabalza. He said that man had chased him and Barreto-Sabalza and pulled out a gun and shot her. Herrin later told detectives that it wasn’t that man, but rather his own brother that shot Barreto-Sabalza.

Detectives executed search warrants where Herrin lived in Federal Way as well as for his car and dumpsters near his apartment. In the dumpster, detectives found Puma sweat pants and sweat jacket and a pair of black and white Nike shoes. Detectives later located video from the Kent West Hill Fred Meyer store that showed Herrin entering the store wearing what appears to be that same clothing in the morning hours the day of the shooting.

Police found an ATM receipt of Barreto-Sabalza’s bank card account in Herrin’s vehicle with a time of 7:32 p.m., right after the nearby shooting at the park. Still photos from the ATM showed Herrin driving the victim’s vehicle.

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