RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- A 21-year-old man accused of fatally shooting two teenagers at a Corona movie theater must stand trial on two counts of first-degree murder and other offenses, a judge ruled Friday.
Joseph Jimenez allegedly gunned down Anthony Barajas, 19, and Rylee Goodrich, 18, both of Corona, last year at the Regal Edwards Theater during a screening of the "The Forever Purge."
Following a preliminary hearing at the Riverside Hall of Justice, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bernard Schwartz found there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial on the murder counts, along with special circumstance allegations of lying in wait and taking multiple lives in the same crime, as well as sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations.
Jimenez sat shackled in the courtroom during the preliminary hearing to determine if there was enough evidence to move forward with a trial.
For the first time, testimony was heard from friends who were with Jimenez in the movie theater on the night of the shooting, July 26, 2021.
Julian Velasquez testified prior to arriving at the theater that Jimenez was acting strange. Once inside the theater he was muttering and staring blankly at them.
"He was quiet at first, but he got stranger as the movie continued," the witness said. "He kept staring at us, making us uncomfortable. He was staring at us like he wanted to punch us in the face. That type of stare."
An hour into the movie, Velasquez said Jimenez got up and left the theater and returned moments later with a backpack.
Jimenez told the witness he had "a strap" in his backpack. Velasquez said he didn't understand Jimenez's meaning, but heard him say "No, I can't do that. They are my friends."
Ramon Felis, another friend, testified he feared Jimenez had a gun in his backpack and even took it away during the movie.
Felis testified that if he thought Jimenez would've hurt the couple, he would not have returned the backpack and would've alerted authorities when he, Velasquez and another friend left the theater.
"We felt he was acting weird, so we wanted to leave him," Velasquez testified about that moment.
Jimenez has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Schwartz scheduled a post-preliminary hearing arraignment for Oct. 21 and ordered that Jimenez remain held without bail at the Smith Correctional Facility in Banning.
City News Service contributed to this report.