FW man sentenced to 37 years for 2018 killing of girlfriend

Left 18-year-old Des Moines woman in West Hill park after shooting her in the head

A 24-year-old Federal Way man received a 37-year prison sentence for killing his-then 18-year-old girlfriend in 2018 in Kent.

A jury convicted Giovanni D. Herrin of first-degree murder domestic violence with a firearm enhancement and second-degree escape. Herrin shot Karyme Barreto-Sabalza, of Des Moines, once in the head and left her on a trail to die during the evening of June 16, 2018, at Salt Air Vista Park, 24615 26th Place S., on the West Hill, according to court documents.

Barreto-Sabalza would have graduated just a few days later from Mount Rainier High School and planned to attend South Seattle College.

King County Superior Court Judge Sandra Widlan sentenced Herrin on Sept. 5 and included three years of community custody following his 37-year sentence. Prosecutors wanted a sentence of 45 years, according to a Sept. 7 email from Casey McNerthney, spokesperson for the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. The defense wanted an exceptional sentence below the standard range of 35 years to 46 years.

Barreto-Sabalza told a friend on social media just weeks before her murder that she feared for her life because of her relationship with Herrin, according to charging documents. She told friends earlier in 2018 Herrin had “frauded her account” and told her she “better watch out.” She told a friend that if something ever happened to her, “Report it and say it was Gio.”

Prosecutors listed robbery as a motive as Herrin fled 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.

The two began dating earlier in 2018. Herrin spent the day of June 16 at an assisted living home in Seattle where Barreto-Sabalza worked. He then lured her into the woods at the Kent park and strangled and shot her in the head, according to charging papers.

Herrin has a lengthy criminal history including several robbery convictions. A previous girlfriend’s parents sought a stalking and protection order from Herrin in 2015. The girl’s mother in the petition indicated Herrin had threatened to kill her family, himself or the girlfriend if the girlfriend ever left him.

At the time of the shooting, Herrin had felony charges pending in King County Superior Court for attempting to elude a police vehicle in 2017 in Kent. He had convictions as a juvenile for second-degree robbery in 2015, second-degree theft in 2015, residential burglary in 2014 and third-degree theft in 2014.

During an interview with detectives, Herrin initially blamed another man for killing Barreto-Sabalza. He said that man had chased him and Barreto-Sabalza and pulled out a gun and shot her. Herrin later told detectives that it wasn’t that man, but rather his own brother that shot Barreto-Sabalza.

Detectives executed search warrants where Herrin lived in Federal Way as well as for his car and dumpsters near his apartment. In the dumpster, detectives found Puma sweat pants and sweat jacket and a pair of black and white Nike shoes. Detectives later located video from the Kent West Hill Fred Meyer store that showed Herrin entering the store wearing what appears to be that same clothing in the morning hours the day of the shooting.

Police found an ATM receipt of Barreto-Sabalza’s bank card account in Herrin’s vehicle with a time of 7:32 p.m., right after the nearby shooting at the park. Still photos from the ATM showed Herrin driving the victim’s vehicle.

The escape conviction came from when Herrin briefly escaped custody on the Fouth of July 2018 while being treated for illness at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. He was on a gurney with four-point restraints on his arms and legs and an armed King County jail guard in the room when he fled from the hospital, according to court documents.

Herrin ran out of the hospital and jumped in the backseat of a vehicle with a Lyft driver stopped at a red light at the intersection of Yesler Way and Eighth Avenue. Herrin reportedly slapped the head of the driver about three times and told him, “Give me a ride! Go, go, go!” The driver saw two uniformed officers with guns drawn coming at his vehicle, so he threw his body down on the passenger’s front seat. The driver said Herrin was in the vehicle about 5 seconds.

Herrin then ran out of the vehicle, guards fired shots and a shot hit and injured Herrin, who was taken into custody. He was treated at Harborview for his injury and released back to the county jail.