A handcuffed Gurkeerat Kainth appears before Judge Johanna Bender for his arraignment in King County Superior Court on Thursday. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

A handcuffed Gurkeerat Kainth appears before Judge Johanna Bender for his arraignment in King County Superior Court on Thursday. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Kent man pleads not guilty to charges in deadly carjacking, shooting

Gurkeerat Kainth, 23, allegedly killed Jered Sperling, 38, after seizing the victim’s truck

A Kent man accused of killing 38-year-old Jered Sperling after carjacking his truck pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm at his arraignment Thursday in King County Superior Court.

Gurkeerat Kainth, 23, on April 15 allegedly carjacked Sperling’s pickup in front of Kent East Hill Storage, 10625 SE 240th St., a facility the victim managed. Sperling clung to the passenger side of his pickup and leaped into the truck’s bed in an effort to stop the theft. Moments later, Kainth allegedly shot and killed the Kent man in the pickup bed while speeding down the road, according to charging papers.

Sperling, whose body was found in the truck’s bed the next day, died of a gunshot wound to his neck, according to the King County Medical Examiner’s Office, which ruled the death a homicide.

Kainth remains in the county jail at the Maleng Regional Justice Center on $2 million bail. A case-setting hearing is 1 p.m. May 15 at the RJC, when a trial date could be set or attorneys can ask for more time to prepare the case.

Following Kainth’s plea, Sperling’s wife, Cynthia, left the courtroom distraught and in tears, escorted by family and friends. She and Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jessica Berliner did not comment to the media.

Judge Johanna Bender ruled in favor of the defense attorney’s request in efforts for a fair trial, not allowing television stations and newspapers to take photos and footage of Kainth’s face during the arraignment.

Kent Police arrested Kainth at about 11 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, at the Valli Kee Apartments in the 23400 block of 104th Avenue Southeast after tips from witnesses and video surveillance from the public storage complex where Kainth reportedly carjacked Sperling’s pickup truck. Kainth admitted to detectives that he stole the pickup and shot Sperling.

Kainth initially told police he found the gun in the console of the truck, but police later discovered the gun had been stolen earlier from a vehicle in Kent and found the gun at a city park based on a witness tip.

Police reported that Kainth was high on narcotics when he allegedly stole the truck while it was idling outside the storage facility.

Kainth has two prior convictions for stealing cars, with a third stolen car case against him pending, according to court documents.

More in News

AR-15 rifle seized by Seattle police. File photo
King County examines gun violence trends

Nearly 77 percent of shooting victims this so far year in county have been people of color.

In this file photo, marchers make their way from Trinity Episcopal Church in Everett on Feb. 26, 2017. Muslim refugees’ admissions into the U.S. have declined by 85 percent since the Trump administration came into power in 2017, according to the International Rescue Committee. Sound Publishing file photo
Report: Fewer refugees settling in U.S. and Washington state

Admissions are on pace to only reach around one-fifth of their limit in 2019.

Das claims racism, sexism during closed-door legislative meetings in Olympia

First-year senator speaks her mind at Kent Chamber of Commerce gathering

Puget Sound Fire call report

Type, number of incidents

More bear sightings in Kent

Monday near Scenic Hill Elementary School

Five Kent-Meridian High School students became Why Not You Scholars. At the presentation were, from left: K-M Principal David Radford; Carly Young, executive director of the Why Not You Foundation; scholars Djamila Oumarou; Katie Liu; Najma Abdirizak; Monserrat Palacios-Aguirre; Aye Aye Aung; and Raquel Rodgers; and Erika Enciso-Castillo, CPA, College Success Foundation. COURTESY PHOTO, Why Not You Foundation
Why Not You Foundation awards scholarships to five Kent-Meridian students

Program is part of Ciara and Russell Wilson’s work with DREAM BIG: Anything is Possible teen empowerment campaign

Kent’s Frager Road South to close June 24 through July 26

Between West Valley Highway and West Meeker Street for salmon, flood project

Most Read