A 19-year-old Federal Way man on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to allegedly killing his girlfriend last month in Kent.
Giovanni D. Herrin entered the plea to the first-degree murder charge during his arraignment before King County Superior Court Judge Julia Garratt at the Maleng Regional Justice Center (RJC) in Kent.
King County prosecutors charged Herrin with shooting Karyme Barreto-Sabalza once in the head and leaving the 18-year-old Des Moines woman on a trail to die during the evening of June 16 at Salt Air Vista Park, 24615 26th Place S., on the West Hill.
The case will be moved from the RJC to the King County Courthouse in Seattle because of security reasons. A case-setting hearing is 1 p.m. Tuesday, July 24 in Courtroom E1201, when attorneys are expected to ask for more time to prepare the case.
Herrin remains in custody at the King County Correctional Facility in Seattle on $2 million bail.
Appearing Tuesday in a white-clad “KCJ ultra security inmate” emblazoned jumpsuit, Herrin was brought into the courtroom by an escort of additional King County jail guards.
Herrin briefly escaped custody on the Fourth of July while being treated for illness at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. King County guards brought him back into custody. Prosecutors added a second-degree escape charge against Herrin in additon to the murder charge, and the first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm charge because he is a convicted felon on a 2015 robbery case.
Robbery was a motive behind Herrin reportedly fleeing 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 a few days later after a vehicle pursuit through South Seattle and Des Moines with Herrin driving his girlfriend’s car.
Barreto-Sabalza told a friend on social media just weeks before she was shot that she feared for her life because of her relationship with Herrin.
Three hospital visits prior to escape
Meanwhile, additional information released in charging papers about Herrin’s escape from Harborview note that he had been transported two previous times to hospitals prior to his brief escape.
“The defendant fabricated three separate medical emergencies while being housed at the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention for the purposes of effectuating an escape from custody,” wrote Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Julie Kline in charging papers.
On July 3, at about 10:30 a.m., Herrin was in custody at the RJC county jail when he requested to see a medical doctor for an unknown reason. Guards transported Herrin to Harborview where he was treated and transported back to the RJC.
On July 4, at about 12:31 a.m., Herrin complained of chest pains to jail staff from an unknown medication he had taken. Jail staff transported Herrin to Valley Medical Center in Renton, where he was treated and then taken to the county jail in Seattle. Later on July 4, Herrin complained to staff that he had ingested an unknown prescribed narcotic.
Jail staff took him to Harborview, where he was placed on a gurney with restraints on his arms and legs in the emergency room. While one guard left to use the restroom, a second guard remained in the room but was distracted for 10 to 15 seconds. When he looked back at the gurney, Herrin was gone. Guards chased him as he ran out of the hospital and across city streets before a guard shot and injured him.
Herrin suffered a gunshot wound to his shoulder and guards transported him back to Harborview for treatment. He was released the next day from the hospital and taken back to the county jail in Seattle.
• Editor Mark Klaas and reporter Steve Hunter contributed to this story.