Bail was reserved Thursday for the 19-year-old suspect, who a judge found probable cause to hold on investigation of domestic-violence homicide.
Karyme Barreto-Sabalza, 18, was just days away from her graduation from Des Moines’ Mount Rainier High School when she was shot to death on a trail in Kent on Saturday, police say.
Her alleged killer is her boyfriend, a 19-year-old Federal Way man who first claimed Barreto-Sabalza was shot in the head by another man, before trying to pin the homicide on his brother, Kent police say.
On Thursday, a King County District Court judge found probable cause to hold the man on investigation of domestic-violence homicide in connection with the shooting in Salt Air Vista Park, according to a probable-cause statement outlining the Kent police case.
The statement does not include a possible motive for the shooting. The Seattle Times is not naming the 19-year-old because he has not yet been charged. Bail was reserved Thursday and the suspect is expected to make his second court appearance on Friday, according to King County prosecutors.
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Barreto-Sabalza, a senior at Mount Rainier High School in Des Moines, was to have graduated with her classmates on Wednesday evening, said Catherine Carbone Rogers, a spokeswoman for Highline Public Schools. A crisis team responded to the school on Monday to help staff and students come to terms with the loss, she said. While the suspect was once a student, he is not a current student and did not graduate from a school in the district, Carbone Rogers said.
Just before 8 p.m. Saturday, someone called 911 to request a welfare check on a woman found on the ground in a wooded area at the park, located in the 24600 block of 26th Place South, according to the probable cause statement. Officers found the woman and quickly determined she had been assaulted and had a wound to the left side of her head, near her ear. They also noted she didn’t have a purse or any other belongings with her, so officers were unable to identify her, says the statement. She died at the scene.
A woman who lives near the park later told police she was unloading groceries from her car and saw a young man and woman walk into the park, the statement says. Soon after, she heard a loud “boom,” then saw the man walk out of the park alone, it says.
Another witness told police he knew the suspect’s brother and spoke to the suspect, who was “sweaty…and obviously in a hurry,” as the suspect drove from the park in what turned out to be Barreto-Sabalza’s white Nissan Altima, according to the statement. From that witness, detectives were able to come up with the suspect’s name and learned he had previously been in custody in the Kent jail. Jail records showed he had been visited by Barreto-Sabalza, the statement says.
Detectives took a photo of a distinct tattoo and ankle bracelet on the victim’s foot and showed it to Barreto-Sabalza’s parents, who identified the tattoo and bracelet as their daughter’s, says the statement. Detectives were told her family hadn’t seen her since the night before the shooting, when Barreto-Sabalza and her boyfriend took her younger sister to the movies, according to the statement. Barreto-Sabalza was supposed to have dinner with her parents Saturday evening but never showed up and her car, registered to her father, was missing, the statement says. When her father texted to see where she was, he got a message saying Barreto-Sabalza was attending a friend’s graduation, a message he considered odd since the friend had graduated the day before.
Detectives determined that Barreto-Sabalza had worked her job at a Seattle assisted-living center during the day on Saturday and that her boyfriend had hung out with her while she worked at the center’s front desk, the statement says.
When a detective contacted the boyfriend by phone on Tuesday, he admitted he was in a dating relationship with Barreto-Sabalza and knew she was dead, according to the statement. He named another man as her killer, saying he believed the man killed Barreto-Sabalza in order to get back at him, the statement says. He agreed to meet with the detective but never showed up for an interview and was arrested Wednesday after leading police on a pursuit while driving his girlfriend’s car, according to the statement.
Police say he again claimed the other man was responsible for shooting Barreto-Sabalza, but then said his brother killed her, the statement says.
Attempts to interview Barreto-Sabalza’s family were unsuccessful. According to a GoFundMe campaign set up to help cover funeral expenses, Barreto-Sabalza dreamed of becoming a nurse and was to begin classes at South Seattle College on Monday.