Prosecutors charge Kent man with first-degree murder in Sperling case

Kainth reportedly shot Sperling in pickup bed while speeding down street

Jered Sperling, Courtesy Photo

Jered Sperling, Courtesy Photo

Jered Sperling clung to the passenger side of his pickup and then jumped into the truck’s bed in an effort to stop the theft of his vehicle after Gurkeerat Kainth reportedly carjacked the pickup and sped down a Kent street.

Moments later, Kainth allegedly shot and killed Sperling, 38, of Kent, in the pickup bed while still speeding down the road, according to charging papers filed against Kainth on Friday in King County Superior Court for first-degree murder and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm.

“The defendant brazenly stole Jered Sperling’s pickup truck and when the victim tried to get him to stop, instead of simply relinquishing the ill-gotten vehicle, the defendant repeatedly shot at the victim while continuing to drive down a busy street at a high rate of speed,” wrote Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jessica Berliner in the charging documents. “As Mr. Sperling lay in the truck bed dying from the gunshot wound he inflicted, the defendant simply abandoned the truck and fled.

“The defendant’s behavior reflects an extraordinary disregard for the life and safety of others. That he admits to being high while perpetrating these crimes further demonstrates his risk to the community.”

Prosecutors had planned on Thursday to file a second-degree murder charge against Kainth based on limited information, but changed the charge to first-degree murder after learning more about what happened on Monday night in the pickup in Kent.

Kainth, 23, of Kent, is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday, May 2, in Courtroom GA at the Maleng Regional Justice Center (RJC) in Kent. He remained in the county jail at the RJC Friday with bail set at $2 million. A judge granted a request by prosecutors to raise the bail from $1 million because of the first-degree murder charge and Kainth’s potential threat to the community.

Kent Police arrested Kainth at about 11 p.m. Tuesday 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.

According to court documents, Kainth and another man were walking eastbound at about 8 p.m. Monday in front of the Kent East Hill Storage, 10625 SE 240th St., when they saw a GMC Denali pickup that Sperling had parked in front of the gate to the storage facility that he manages with his wife.

Sperling left the vehicle running as he stood a few feet away speaking with some customers. Kainth walked over to the open driver’s door, jumped in and began to back up. Sperling saw his truck being stolen and grabbed on to the side of the truck bed as Kainth drove eastbound on Southeast 240th Street. The vehicle was last seen traveling eastbound at excessive speeds.

Witnesses said they saw Sperling climb into the pickup bed near the intersection of Southeast 240th Street and 108th Avenue Southeast. A 911 caller reported seeing a white pickup going an estimated 100 mph eastbound on Southeast 240th Street just after 8 p.m.

Kainth dumped the pickup with Sperling’s body in the truck’s bed at about 8:21 p.m. at a parking lot at the Cascade Apartments, 20402 106th Ave. SE, according to charging papers. A resident called 911 Tuesday morning to report a body in a pickup at the complex. Kainth told detectives he ran to a nearby building and hid for a while before taking a bus toward the Valli Kee Apartments, where police later arrested him.

Kainth told police he had found a gun in the pickup’s console. But police through a witness tracked down a gun wrapped in a T-shirt at Turnkey Park, which is adjacent to Valli Kee. Detectives believe the gun, stolen during a vehicle prowl in Kent on either April 14 or 15, was used to shoot Sperling.

According to charging papers, Kainth has only lived in the area for a few years but has two prior convictions for felony possession of a stolen vehicle. A third possession of a stolen vehicle was pending at the time he allgedly stole Sperling’s truck. In that Kent case, Kainth had twice failed to comply with the terms of his release from jail and had a $50,000 bench warrant issued March 14.

In 2017, Kainth was initially charged with eluding a police vehicle in Kent in addition to possession of a stolen vehicle. In that case, he drove in a reckless manner near a elementary school. He ultimately plead guilty to reckless driving.

Kainth also has misdemeanor convictions for false statement, numerous third-degree thefts, vehicle trespass, hit and run attended (damage to another vehicle) and driving without a license – all in the last three years, according to court documents.

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