King County prosecutors charged a 23-year-old man with first-degree murder Friday in connection to a fatal carjacking in Kent.
Gurkeerat Singh Kainth was also charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a stolen firearm, according to charging documents. Bail was previously set at $1 million, but a judge raised it to $2 million after prosecutors argued Kainth was at high risk of reoffending and not appearing in court.
Prosecutors allege Kainth stole a pickup truck Monday and then shot at the owner, Jered Sperling, multiple times after Sperling climbed into the truck bed to stop him, according to charges. Police found Sperling’s body the next morning in his truck, which was abandoned in the parking lot of a nearby apartment building.
“As Mr. Sperling lay in the truck bed dying from the gunshot wound he inflicted, the defendant simply abandoned the truck and fled,” senior deputy prosecuting attorney Jessica Berliner wrote in charging documents.
Multiple witnesses told detectives they saw Kainth steal the truck or later abandon it, which was also recorded by surveillance cameras, according to charges.
Police said Kainth claimed he shot the victim with a gun found in the center console of the pickup. But detectives say that after further investigation, they now believe Kainth already had a stolen firearm, which he likely used to kill the victim.
One witness told police he had seen Kainth with a handgun two days before the theft, according to charges. After arresting Kainth and obtaining a search warrant for the home where he was found, police located a loaded magazine and holster, according to charges.
A witness led police to a gun missing a magazine, which police believe was used in the shooting. The gun was stolen in a vehicle prowl this week, according to charges.
Police say Kainth told detectives he had been high at the time of the shooting, according to charges.
Kainth does not have prior convictions for violent crimes, but has a history of “placing his own desire to steal cars with impunity over the well-being of others,” Berliner wrote in charging documents.
Prosecutors cited Kainth’s past two convictions for felony possession of a stolen vehicle in King County, as well as another charge from December. A bench warrant was issued against Kainth in March after he twice failed to report to community corrections, which was a condition of his release, according to court records.
Kainth had been under state Department of Corrections supervision since September 2017, according to a department spokeswoman.