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.