Man sentenced to life in prison for shooting deaths of 2 teens inside Corona movie theater

KABC logo
Monday, February 26, 2024
Man sentenced to life in prison for killing 2 teens at SoCal theater
A 23-year-old who fatally shot two teenagers at a Corona movie theater in July 2021 was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- A 23-year-old who fatally shot two teenagers at a Southern California movie theater in July 2021 was sentenced Monday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Joseph Jimenez also received an additional 50 years to life for the shooting deaths of 19-year-old Anthony Barajas and 18-year-old Rylee Goodrich during a showing of the film "The Forever Purge" at the Regal Edwards Theater at the Crossings at Corona. The two teens were on a date that night.

Jimenez was declared sane at the conclusion of a bench trial in December, clearing the way for his conviction of two counts of first-degree murder special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and taking multiple lives, as well as sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.

The families of the victims' read emotional impact statements during the sentencing, saying there will never be anything to compensate for their loss.

"This past December was the first time in three years that there was any semblance of a Christmas at the Goodrich household," said Rylee's grandfather Patrick Goodrich. Her heartbroken parents chose not to attend.

"Her memory for her mom and dad is in a place of peace, comfort and beauty. Her memory for them lives in their home and in their hearts," said the girl's grandmother Jody Goodrich.

Defense attorney Charles Kenyon had argued Jimenez was not rational at the time and in the throes of schizophrenia when he shot the teens.

"We all agree that schizophrenia caused this," he said in December. "Joseph Jimenez is not a bad person, but the legal burden is what it is. At the end of the day, unarmed people have their backs turned to you that don't appear to overtly present a threat is not under, any circumstance, something you can defend from an objective perspective."

READ ALSO | Former friend testifies suspect gave 'death stares' before murders

During the trial's closing arguments, Kenyon told the court Jimenez "was misguided by the voices" and "in the theater, he thought he had no options." He also said Jimenez "was acting out of fear in defense of his friends and family."

But the prosecution countered that argument with Jimenez's actions during and after the murders using Jimenez's own testimony.

The prosecution pointed out Jimenez knew the victims were innocent and did not have to kill them, but that he had made up his mind to do so 20 minutes prior to shooting them, even though the voices that urged him on had gone silent.

The prosecution argued Jimenez "knew he did something morally wrong and fled" and "no one was commanding him to do anything or threatening him."

Kenyon said due to legal rules, Jimenez had to testify in his own insanity trial.

"I don't think Joseph told a lie in his own mind up on that stand, but the reality was he hurt his own case," he said.

During Monday's sentencing, Anthony's father held his son's picture and spoke to the choices leading to his son's murder.

"You stole the lives of two young people with so much potential to do great things," Brian Barajas told Jimenez. "Anthony was so full of life and touched so many lives in a positive way." Anthony's two sisters also faced Jimenez and spoke to the toll and loss their family has suffered. His oldest sister, Julia, did so on her 24th birthday.

"I want justice and I want peace for my family. It's time we get put this part behind us and start to fully heal from this," she said.

Jimenez previously withdrew his not guilty pleas on two counts of murder and not guilty by reason of insanity. Instead of a criminal trial, a judge heard the case and determined Jimenez's state of mind at the time of the murders.

City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.