Man who shot 2 teens to death inside Corona theater ruled sane; will be sentenced to prison – Orange County Register



A man who shot and killed two teenagers inside a Corona movie theater more than two years ago was ruled sane Tuesday by a judge after a weeklong trial, and will be sentenced in February to state prison for his crimes.

Joseph Jimenez Jr., 22, who said months ago in a jailhouse interview with Southern California News Group that he was diagnosed with schizophrenia, testified that he had been tormented by voices in his head that threatened to harm him.

During testimony during his sanity trial, which ended Tuesday, Jimenez said the voices came from “Abigail” and an unnamed companion while he was in the Regal Edwards cinema at the Crossings at Corona on July 26, 2021, watching “The Forever Purge” with three friends. The voices, Jimenez testified on Monday, Dec. 4, were coming from several rows in front of him where Corona High School graduate Rylee Goodrich, 18, and Mater Dei High School graduate Anthony Barajas, 19, sat in Row F of Theater No. 15.

Both teens died in the shooting that night.

Jimenez’s attorney, Charles Kenyon, posed two questions to Superior Court Judge Timothy J. Hollenhorst, who ruled Tuesday on Jimenez’s sanity: But for schizophrenia, would we be here? And was this a rational crime with a motive and intent or truly senseless violence?

Kenyon answered no to the first question and said this was an irrational crime with no motive.

“He’s not the person who was described by his sister (during testimony) in such a loving way,” Kenyon told the judge.

He noted that Jimenez appeared rational and articulate while medicated during his testimony, but “This masks to some degree who he was the night in question.”

Kenyon listed several cases that have been heard in Riverside County, that while horrific, could be explained. Of the theater shooting, Kenyon said, “I can’t think of one that is more senseless.”

The reason, he said, is that Jimenez was insane at the time.

Hollenhorst’s decision on whether Jimenez was sane would be based on two tests, according to Kenyon. Did he understand the nature of his actions? And did he understand that what he was doing was morally wrong? The defense has the burden of proving that Jimenez was insane during the shootings.

Kenyon said Tuesday that Jimenez did understand the nature of his actions, but that he was so overcome by his mental deficiencies that the moral implications of the shootings escaped him.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Kevin Beecham began his closing argument before the lunch break. He answered Kenyon’s two questions himself. He said when Jimenez was hospitalized for mental illness several times before the shooting, he was told each time to take his medicine and not to misuse drugs. Yet he smoked marijuana and drank alcohol.

“He’s been told ‘You cannot do this,’ but he does,” Beecham said.

But Beecham said his most important argument that Jimenez is sane is that he was not a credible witness. Beecham said Jimenez did not immediately report upon his arrest that he heard voices. And that his story changed from being questioned by Kenyon to being questioned by Beecham.

“Let’s take all his statements and throw them in the trash,” Beecham said. “Without his statements, what are you left with?”

The prosecutor added the gun Jimenez said he bought for protection was a “ghost gun” — one that is untraceable because it lacks serial numbers. Beecham said Jimenez bought the gun and a 100-round magazine on OfferUp not for protection, but because he knew he could not pass a background check because of his mental illness.

On July 26, 2021, those voices returned. Jimenez testified that the voices were coming from a nonexistent “Abigail” and an unnamed companion from the area several rows away where Corona High School graduate Rylee Goodrich, 18, and Mater Dei High School graduate Anthony Barajas, 19, sat.

Those voices said “We’re going to get you guys,” he testified.

But the teens never said a word to Jimenez, and Abigail and the companion existed only in Jimenez’s mind.

Jimenez went to his car and retrieved a bag containing a gun he had purchased for protection. As the credits rolled, he fired shots into the back of the teens’ heads, killing them.

Jimenez previously had pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and not guilty because of insanity. But he withdrew those pleas and is now testifying in an insanity trial.

He is scheduled to be sentence to state prison on Feb. 26.



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