Man faces sentence in Corona movie theater shooting – NBC Los Angeles

California

A man convicted in the shooting deaths of a man and woman watching a movie at a theater in Corona is expected to be sentenced Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

A sentencing hearing was scheduled for Monday morning in a Riverside courtroom for 23-year-old Joseph Jimenez. He was convicted at the conclusion of a bench trial in December of two counts of first-degree murder special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and taking multiple lives, and sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations in the killings of Anthony Barajas, 19, and Rylee Goodrich, 18, both of Corona, in 2021 at the Regal Edwards Theater.

Barajas, known online as itsanthonymichael, was a social media influencer who had nearly a million followers on TikTok and more on other platforms. He also played soccer at Mater Dei High School.

Goodrich’s family said the two were on a first date after he had just returned from Hawaii. Goodrich was a sophomore at Grand Canyon University. Friends and loved ones wrote message in tribute to the victims and placed a life-size cutout of Goodrich outside the theater in the days after the shooting.

Messages in honor of Rylee Goodrich, 19, and Anthony Barajas, 18, were left outside a movie theater at The Crossings mall in Corona.


Toni Guinyard/NBCLA

A cutout of Rylee Goodrich, 19, stands outside the Corona movie theater where she was shot and killed Monday, July 26, 2021.

There was no indication Jimenez knew the victims or had any prior contact with them.

Police said the July 26, 2021 shooting happened inside the theater during a 9:35 p.m. showing of “The Forever Purge.”

Jimenez had argued that he was insane at the time of the shooting. A Riverside County Superior Court judge found the defendant was mentally competent.

His attorney, Charles Kenyon, said Jimenez cannot “discern right and wrong.”

“He doesn’t recognize things in real time,” Kenyon said. “There are things highlighted in his brain that aren’t there. He’s hearing ghosts.”

Kenyon described how his client suffered following the loss of his mother a year prior to the deadly attack and was plagued by voices commanding him to engage in violence and even take his father’s life before the elder Jimenez could kill him and his sisters.

“This is a person who is literally insane. He thinks he is going to die. All of his delusions were 100% schizophrenia,” the attorney said.

Deputy District Attorney Kevin Beecham countered the defense on almost every point, emphasizing that Jimenez was not bereft of help, being admitted to hospitals for mental health treatment multiple times over the 11 months prior to the killings.

“The discharge orders were always the same — take your medication and don’t do drugs,” Beecham said. “But he does the exact opposite.”

According to the prosecutor, Jimenez failed to show up for appointments with doctors, didn’t get his psychotropic medications refilled and regularly used marijuana and “chugged” alcohol, capturing much of the recreational substance abuse on his cellphone camera and sharing the images.

Beecham said while the defense sought to paint Jimenez as a sympathetic character, “he’s not credible, and he has a tendency to exaggerate facts and a history of placating practitioners.”

Beecham pointed to videos of the defendant smoking cannabis and conversing normally with friends as evidence Jimenez wasn’t out of control. Further proof surfaced in his procurement of a 9mm home-assembled ghost gun a month prior to the theater attack.

The victims, Jimenez and three high school friends were the only people in the theater at the time of the showing.

A few minutes after the film started, Jimenez left, then returned with a backpack from his car and sat back down a few row behind Barajas and Goodrich. A friend, who testified that Jimenez was behaving erratically and talking to himself, said he asked Jimenez what was in the backpack. The defendant said it contained a “strap,” or handgun.

The three friends and Jimenez left the theater, but he soon went back inside.

“Leaving the theater is a huge, significant fact,” Beecham said, recalling how Jimenez later told detectives he decided to return because he didn’t want to miss the last 20 minutes of the film. “He’s not in imminent fear.”

Jimenez said voices told him to kill the victims, each of whom he shot in the head. He then went to his home, Beecham said. Two of the friends told investigators that, around 11:30 p.m., they saw Jimenez running from the theater before jumping in his car and speeding away.

Barajas and Goodrich were found by theater workers cleaning up after the movie.

After seeing press releases the next day, those friends said, they believed Jimenez was the one who had shot Barajas and Goodrich.

During the search at Jimenez’s home, authorities found a gun that matched the caliber of the weapon used in the homicide, and additional evidence related to the crime.

Read original source here.

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