Giovanni D. Herrin glances back during his arraignment in King County Superior Court at the Maleng Regional Justice Center on Tuesday. Herrin pleaded not to a first-degree murder charge and to a second-degree escape charge. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Giovanni D. Herrin glances back during his arraignment in King County Superior Court at the Maleng Regional Justice Center on Tuesday. Herrin pleaded not to a first-degree murder charge and to a second-degree escape charge. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter

Federal Way man pleads not guilty to killing girlfriend at Kent park

Extra security surrounds Federal Way man in court

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.

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