Karyme Barreto-Sabalza told a friend that if anything happened to her, the friend should report it and "say it was Gio," according to first-degree murder charges filed against Giovanni Herrin, 19, of Federal Way.
Weeks before she was shot to death in a Kent park, Karyme Barreto-Sabalza, 18, told friends she was in fear for her life and was worried her boyfriend of a few months was going to kill her, according to King County prosecutors.
“If anything … happens to me report it and say it was Gio,” Barreto-Sabalza wrote in a social-media conversation with a friend on April 9, referring to her boyfriend, Giovanni Herrin, according to the criminal charges filed against him. “I’m literally so scared for my life he so crazy.”
Herrin, 19, was charged last week with first-degree murder domestic violence and first-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. He remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail.
Herrin is accused of luring Barreto-Sabalza into woods at a Kent park on June 16 and shooting her once in the head at close range, charging papers say. He’s also accused of taking her purse and cellphone and driving off in her car, then using her bank card at a nearby ATM, say the charges.
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In her online conversation with the friend, Barreto-Sabalza also said Herrin had defrauded her bank account, according to charging papers.
Barreto-Sabalza, a senior at Mount Rainier High School in Des Moines, was days from graduating when she was killed in Kent’s Salt Air Vista Park. She and Herrin began dating earlier this year, the charges say.
The night before she died, Barreto-Sabalza and Herrin took her younger sister to the movies. The next day, he hung out with Barreto-Sabalza at her job, where she worked the front desk of a Seattle assisted-care facility, according to charging papers. She was supposed to have dinner with her family on the night of June 16 but never made it, the charges say.
Witnesses led police to identify Herrin as a suspect, but detectives say he claimed another man had killed Barreto-Sabalza in order to get back at him before then trying to pin the homicide on his own brother, say charging papers.
Herrin was arrested June 20. That same day, detectives obtained a search warrant and found three unspent bullets inside his Federal Way apartment, the charges say.
Officers also searched two trash bins outside Herrin’s apartment and found a sweatsuit and a pair of sneakers inside a Fred Meyer bag, say the charges. Herrin appeared to be wearing the same outfit when he and Barreto-Sabalza were captured on video-surveillance footage at a Fred Meyer store hours before the fatal shooting, police say.
Inside Barreto-Sabalza’s white Nissan Altima, police also found an ATM bank receipt time-stamped at 7:32 p.m. on June 16, “which is the time right after the homicide,” the charges say. Detectives obtained video footage from the ATM which showed Herrin driving Barreto-Sabalza’s vehicle, say the charges.
Herrin has convictions in juvenile court for robbery, theft and burglary and was wanted on a $10,000 bench warrant at the time of Barreto-Sabalza’s death for a case filed last year, court records show. In the 2017 case, Herrin was charged with attempting to elude police for allegedly leading Des Moines officers on a 60-mph chase before crashing his mother’s car into another vehicle, say court records.